American Cat Fanciers Association
Abyssinian Breed Synopsis
Abyssinian Breed Standard
The actual history of the Abyssinian cat is unknown. What is actually known
is that this breed was first recorded in England in 1871. Twelve cats, most
with one unknown parent were listed in the stud book between 1900-1905.
One story has it that the original cats were brought to England from
Ethiopia (Abyssinia) by sailors in1868. Zulu, an Abyssinian owned by Mrs.
Barrett-Lennard, was described in a book by Gordon Stables published in
1874. In it, he says that she was brought from Ethiopia. There is no other
However, it is just as possible that the breed was developed in England from
tabby cats as the Abyssinian is a tabby carrying the agouti gene. In the
late 1800’s, cat shows in England exhibited domestic and wild cats, so it is
possible that the tabby was crossed with an African or Asian wild cat.
Recent genetic studies show that the most probable origin is the coast of
the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. However, some zoologists point out the
strong resemblance to the small African wild cat(F.caffra). This is a small
ticked cat with the facial patterns of the Abyssinian.
The Abyssinian came to the United States around 1900, but was not widely
bred until the 1930’s. In 1938 and 1939, most Abyssinians were lost in
England due to the war and breeding slowed down.
The Abyssinian is a medium
sized cat neither cobby nor oriental, but very muscular and elegant. It
stands high on its toes. The fir is ticked, having three to four bands
of color, with a full undercoat. The coat is lustrous and very resilient
springing back when stroked. The stomach, chest, and inside of legs are
of a color to complement the ticked coat.
It has moderately large ears which are tilted forward in a listening
posture giving the whole cat a very alert appearance. The tail is broad
at the base and tapers to a point which is the color of the darkest
ticking of the cat.
The Abyssinian is a very active cat that is very social. They bond
closely with their person and want to be involved in everything that
person is doing. The Abyssinian even as an adult is playful and
intersperses periods of frenetic activity and total relaxation. They are
also extremely intelligent and train their people very quickly.
ABYSSINIAN breed chair