The Abyssinian breed can be traced back as far as three thousand years ago. The Abys were constant companions to the Pharaohs and were highly prized for their ability to guard the grainery. Grain was one of the most important Egyptian commodities and Abys were quite good at protecting it. In ancient Egypt if a person killed a cat even by accident, the penalty was death. Cats are still treated with respect and kept as companions in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, although street cats that look like Abys are now mostly found in northern India near and in Calcutta, because the wild ancestor of the Aby, the jungle cat (Felis Chaus), is still found there. The Abyssinian as a modern breed is believed to have originated from a single cat that was imported by a British officer at the end of the Abyssinian War in 1868 to England.

Abyssinians are very friendly and affectionate in nature. As a breed, they are quite fearless and outgoing, coming to the door to greet strangers and going at once to investigate noises. They usually get along very well with other cats and with dogs and other animals. Abys are very active! Abys love to perch high above to be able to look down upon their domain. They are not lap cats although they will sit or sleep next to you when they are finished playing. Even though they are quite independent Abys always take time to say hello, purr and rub against you before going to investigate something else. Abys have dog-like traits such as they often love to play fetch, will bring you a favorite toy and many have been trained to walk on a leash. They are naturals in cat agility. They vary in nature from very active and involved to gentle and loving. Most people that have an Aby will tell you they never seem to lose their kitten like personalities. They are quiet cats, only meowing to get your attention or in an attempt to locate their owner. Although they can and do meow like other cats when they are upset it is usually at a much lower volume. They are very people-oriented and want to be around you even when they are playing with each other. They will "help" you with whatever you happen to be doing, too! They are loyal friends who always seem to know when you need an extra snuggle or purrs.

Abys need very little care. They shed about as much as any other short hair cat although they do enjoy a pampered brushing. Like most cats, Abys cause normal allergic reactions in sensitive people. Clip your Aby's claws front and back every week or two. If you need help learning how, ask a groomer or your vet to teach you. Only clip the clear part of the claw at the tip. This will reduce the scratches you receive and the damage they do to furniture. There are several more things you can do to reduce furniture damage from your Aby's claws, starting with providing several sisal rope scratching posts, at least one in each room, especially where they have scratched furniture. Aby ears need to be cleaned about once a month with a feline ear cleaning solution, preferably one with neem oil in it. Neem oil naturally eliminates fungus and yeast infections. Hold the head still while squeezing a few drops into the ear canal. Massage the base of the ear from the outside. Let the cat shake their head, then wipe the ear clean.

We use the Merial 4-in-1 vaccine. The kittens receive their vaccines starting at 8 weeks followed by 12 weeks and then 16 weeks. If you get your kitten before they are 16 weeks old, please remember to give the last kitten vaccination at 16 weeks old so the maternal antibodies won't interfere with the vaccine and the vaccination's protection will last until they are 1 yr. If the rabies vaccination is required, use the 1-year Merial Purevax ONLY. Abys are sensitive to vaccinations and indoor cats do not need Feline Leukemia vaccinations, which are not 100% guaranteed to work anyway. Don't declaw your Aby, or any cat, for that matter. It's cruel and leaves them defenseless. Don't ever let your Aby outside as their curious and friendly nature will lead them inevitably to tragedy. Tell your veterinarian before any surgery that Abys have been known to be sensitive to anesthetic and pre-anesthetic and to watch carefully for any reactions to these. There are usually antidotes they can give if there is a reaction. Gas can be used instead in most cases, spay or neuter for example.

All kittens will be spayed/neutered before leaving for their forever home. Kittens are spayed/neutered at 10 weeks/2 lbs.

We use and recommend feeding only fresh meat (raw or cooked lightly) and/or canned food without grains, but with vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A and taurine. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they require a high percent of meat protein in their diet to receive complete nutrition.

We prefer BFF by Weruva canned food or Friskies Pate canned food. Our favorite dry foods are Earthborn which we buy at a local pet store and Young Again Cat Food which we order online. We also feed Blue Ridge Beef Kitten Mix raw food.

The preferred percentage of protein, fat and carbohydrates is similar to what the cat has eaten in the wild for thousands of years: mice. Mice have about 55% protein, 30% fat, and 2% carbohydrates in their bodies (dry weight analysis, after water is removed, since there can be varying amounts of water). Therefore we recommend looking at the ingredients list and buying dry cat food that has at least 40% protein, 20% fat, and less than 10% carbohydrates. For canned food, it should say at least 10% protein, 4% fat and less than 2% carbs. Exact percentages for canned food can be calculated using dry weight analysis.

Here is some more information on the best, most nutritious diet for your cat. A good probiotic mixed in their food every day like Only Natural Pet Probiotic or GNC Super Probiotic Complex (my current favorite) or GNC Ultra Probiotic Complex 25 Packets helps an Aby's immune system stay healthy (most of the immune system cells are in the intestine). It also helps treat IBD/IBS (Irritable Bowel) and is great for helping to repopulate the intestines with good bacteria after antibiotics. This is the same probiotics that we humans need and is also in live culture yogurt.

Since they were originally desert animals, like most cats Abyssinians naturally don't drink much water. The majority of their water comes from food. However, to encourage them to drink more, especially when they are fed mostly dry food, always keep a clean bowl of fresh water available for your cat. Metal or ceramic bowls are easier to keep clean than plastic ones. A constantly recycled water supply in a fountain is even better because it encourages your cat to drink because they are attracted to running water, and it also filters the water. You will still have to clean it regularly, however. We use a bleach solution when cleaning food and water bowls by hand, and regularly put them through the dishwasher.

The four main Abyssinian colors recognized by TICA and other cat registration organizations are: ruddy (rich dark brown also known as usual or tawny), blue (the dilute of ruddy, a slate blue-gray), cinnamon (rich deep cinnamon-red also called sorrel or red), and fawn (the dilute of cinnamon, a pale tan).

Actual photos from each different color of Aby

New and unusual colors recently approved for Championship titles and points in TICA and GCCF are: chocolate (rich dark reddish-brown, called brown in genetic dna testing) and lilac (the dilute of chocolate, a pale cream with very light blue-gray or lavender shading). The silver versions of the six colors above are also recently approved by TICA for titles and points, for a total of 12 approved colors.

The new red colors are the torbies (ruddy, blue, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, or fawn torbie females), red males and females, and cream males and females. These sex-linked red Abyssinians are TICA registered with the normal SBT registration numbers. Their kittens, or even their littermates, can be shown in TICA for Championship titles and Regional and International points, if they are one of the colors approved for Championship. They are pure Abyssinian just like any other TICA registered Abyssinian, except for their color. These colors have been bred in Europe and the U.K. since the mid-1980's, so they are not new. They are only somewhat new and rare here in the U.S.

Sex-linked red male
Photo taken by Helmi Flick on July 11, 2009

Sex-linked cream male
Photo by Helmi Flick

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