Cat Breed 101: Abyssinian

Cat Breed 101: Abyssinian


Written by Dr. Muqeet Mushtaq DVM, MS ABG (Animal Breeding and Genetics)

The Abyssinian, one of the most common cat breeds, is easy to take care of and a pleasure to have in your home. They're friendly cats that enjoy being around people and other animals.

At A Glance

Weight range:

  • Male : medium: 8-12 lbs.
  • Female: medium: 8-12 lbs.

Eye colour:

  • Gold, Green 
Longevity Range:
  • 9-13 yrs
Social/Attention Needs:
  • High
Tendency to Shed:
  • Low



While the Abyssinian cat is thought to have originated in the Nile Valley, she was developed in the United Kingdom. Following a military expedition to Abyssinia in the 1860s, Lord Robert Napier returned a cat to Britain. This cat was called Zulu, and she was the forerunner of the Abyssinian breed that we know today. The Abyssinian's coat had a peculiar ticking pattern that reminded people of the camouflage pattern on the coat of a wild rabbit. This trait was so appealing that Zulu was crossed with unrelated cats with a similar coat pattern, and the Abyssinian breed was born.

The breed grew in popularity, and Abyssinian cats were soon being raised all over Europe and the United States and Canada. Since the breed was nearly wiped out in Europe during the two world wars, its success proved to be its saving grace. The breed was kept alive by the introduction of new Abyssinians. When the feline leukaemia virus was almost eradicated in the late 1960s, it destroyed the breed once again in Britain. More Abyssinians were brought into Britain to reestablish the breed again.


Despite being an active pet, the Abyssinian is a simple cat to have in your home. They adore both humans and other creatures. They will spend hours playing with their own toys, but they will also spend time interacting with their parents. They will speak to you softly and quietly. The Abyssinian is affectionate and caring, and she enjoys spending time with her parents. The Abyssinian coat is simple to maintain, but it prefers to be combed or rubbed with a chamois cloth. She'll give you a loving purr as a reward.


 Abyssinians are active cats that can keep their weight under control with the right amount of exercise. They should have access to high perches and cat trees to hop and climb.

Abyssinians are friendly cats that enjoy being with other people. When human partners are not present, this company can be given by getting another cat or pet around.


Coat Characteristic

  • Length: Short, Medium
  • Characteristics: Silky, Smooth
  • Colours: Ruddy, Red, Blue, Fawn, Cinnamon
  • Pattern: Ticking
  • Less Allergenic: No
  • Overall Grooming Needs: Low
Club Recognition

Cat Association Recognition:

  • TICA
  • CCA
  • ACFA
  • FIFe

Prevalence: Common

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