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10 Surprising Abyssinian Cat Facts (Vet-Approved)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Considering an Abyssinian for your home? You might be surprised to learn how much you don’t know about these felines (and we don’t mean what to feed them or how much exercise they need!). This unique cat breed has accomplished a lot throughout its history.

Want to learn more about the Abyssinian before you adopt one? (Of course you do!) We’ve gathered 10 surprising facts about these kitties that you probably didn’t know. There’s plenty to learn, whether it’s information about their unique coats or the fact they helped make up a pedigreed breed.

Keep reading for 10 facts about cats!

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The 10 Facts About Abyssinian Cats

1. The history of the Abyssinian is mysterious.

Though there are theories, nobody is quite sure where the Abyssinian came from or how the breed came about. Some believe this breed originated in Ethiopia (called Abyssinia at the time) and that these felines were brought back to England by soldiers who fought in the Abyssinian War in the late 1800s, which is how the breed became known to the rest of the world. Others think these cats look similar to the felines found in ancient Egyptian art, so they believe they may be ancestors of the cat breed that was revered in ancient Egypt.

However, recent genetic studies on these felines indicate their ancestors might have lived in areas of Southeast Asia and the coasts of northeastern India.


2. These cats appeared in museums, early cat shows, and breed books.

The Abyssinian breed made quite a splash in Europe in their early days there. A stuffed Abyssinian was purchased by Holland’s Leiden Zoological Museum somewhere between 1834 and 1836. The Abyssinian also won 3rd place at what is considered the second major cat show the world ever saw in 1871. And the breed earned a mention in an early English feline breed catalog—the mention featured a colored lithograph of Zulu the Abyssinian.

chocolate abyssinian cat
Image Credit: Oksana Bystritskaya,Shutterstock

3. The Abyssinian breed almost went extinct.

By the end of World War II, the Abyssinian breed was close to extinction. It’s believed that there were only 12 of these felines still alive by the end of the war. Luckily, between American breeders and the guardians of those 12 cats, the Abyssinian breed was revived by breeding programs in the 1930s.


4. The first pedigreed cat in Australia is part Abyssinian.

The first pedigreed cat developed in Australia in the 1970s was part Abyssinian. Dr. Truda Straede wanted to create a feline that carried all the things she loved from her favorite cat breeds, so she crossbred the Abyssinian, Australian domestic shorthair, and the Burmese to form what is now known as the Australian Mist. This new breed carried the ticked coat of the Abyssinian, the laid-back temperament of the Burmese, and an exceptionally hardy immune system from the domestic shorthair.

abyssinian cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

5. They’re the only cat breed to have their DNA decoded.

This feline breed is the only one to have its DNA decoded. Why is that? In 2007, a research group was trying to understand the genetics of roughly 250 common diseases found in cats and people, so they pulled some DNA from an Abyssinian named Cinnamon. Using Cinnamon’s DNA helped these researchers decode the genome, which enabled them to learn more about the genetics involved in different diseases. This also had the added benefit of increasing knowledge about cat domestication.


6. Their coats are ticked.

Abyssinians have what is known as a ticked coat. Ticked means that individual hairs on these cats alternate between dark and light shades. Generally, this breed’s coat will be lighter near the base of the hair, then get darker at the tips. A ticked coat provides these felines with a fascinating pattern that gives them a unique look.

What colors can these coats come in? Mostly ruddy brown, but they can also come in blue, fawn, lilac, cinnamon, and chocolate.

Abyssinian cat in kitchen
Image Credit: Ingus Kruklitis, Shutterstock

7. The breed is the Energizer Bunny of cats.

If you’re looking for a lower-energy breed, the Abyssinian is not right for you. These kitties are super active and always on the go, just like the Energizer Bunny. They’re naturally athletic and incredibly curious, so you’ll find them exploring your home, climbing whatever they can manage to get on, and jumping around almost constantly. Don’t be surprised if you find your Abyssinian perched on the top of the fridge or the highest bookcase in your home!


8. They have the nickname “Aby-Grabby”.

Every cat needs a fun nickname and the Abyssinian has “Aby-Grabby”. It sounds a bit silly, but the breed has certainly earned the name, considering their fondness for reaching out a paw and grabbing anything that catches their eyes. And with this breed’s inquisitive nature and penchant for climbing on absolutely everything, it’s guaranteed that the kitty will find tons to be fascinated by in your home.

Abyssinian kitten
Image Credit: tsapenkodg, Pixabay

9. The Abyssinian is the clown of the feline kingdom.

This is one playful and silly cat breed! In fact, they’re pretty much the clowns of the feline kingdom. This kitty is a jokester with a love of playing and acrobatics. From perching on your shoulder as you move around the home to daring feats of athleticism, this feline will make you laugh more often than not. One thing is for sure—life with an Abyssinian will never be boring!


10. An Abyssinian was the star of a 1978 film.

Walt Disney Productions made some interesting films back in the day, and one featured an Abyssinian (or two, rather). The 1978 movie The Cat From Outer Space, features a UFO crashing on Earth piloted by a cat-like alien (who is named “Jake” by a researcher later on in the film). It’s a bit silly, sure, and the movie definitely wasn’t Disney’s biggest hit, but it did give Abyssinian siblings Rumper and Amber a chance to shine in the title role.

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Conclusion

The Abyssinian breed is a truly fascinating one. Whether they’re starring in Disney films or having their DNA decoded to help scientists figure out diseases, these felines are unique! And having one in your home will offer plenty of surprises and tons of fun. Just be sure you’re ready to handle their high-energy and prankster ways!


Featured Image Credit: Kyselova Inna, Shutterstock

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