Abyssinian cat breed information and advice

The exact origin of the Abyssinian cat is unclear. It was first thought that the breed originated in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). They’re also thought to resemble the cats of Ancient Egypt. However, the breed is now considered to have come from coastal regions of the Indian Ocean and south-east Asia. The first Abyssinian cat (called Zulu) was brought to the UK from North Africa by British soldiers in the nineteenth century.

With its distinctive ‘ticked’ coat, the Abyssinian (or Aby for short) is a popular breed of cat. They’re intelligent and playful and make great companions.

Abyssinian facts

Lifespan 15+ years
How much £300+
Size medium
Weight 3-5kg
Grooming minimal
Temperament lively, affectionate and intelligent
Exercise medium



Abyssinian cat insurance

It doesn’t matter if your cat is a pedigree or mixed breed, pet insurance can protect your cat or kitten from unexpected illnesses or accidents. Abyssinian cat cover can help cover the cost of medication, vet prescribed complementary treatment or surgery.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

Sainsbury’s Bank cat insurance can cover kittens from 8 weeks until their 10th birthday. But if you take out a policy before they’re 10, cover will be continued year after year as long as keep renewing your policy without a break. So, you won’t need to worry about mounting health bills for an elderly cat.

How to care for an Abyssinian

Aby cats have lots of energy and are always on the move. Make sure that they have a balanced diet and lots of playtime to keep them out of mischief.

If you get an Abyssinian kitten from a breeder, ask which kitten food they use and how often to feed. Keeping to the same feeding schedule will help to avoid any tummy upsets. If you want to change to a different brand, it’s best to do so gradually and keep to the recommended portion size on the package. However, you won’t need to worry about them putting on too much weight as they’re very active cats.

With their short coats, Abyssinians need little grooming. They’ll enjoy a weekly brush or comb. You can also wipe their coats with a damp chamois leather cloth. This will make their coats gleam.

Their coats are ticked (apart from their belly, inside of their legs and throat). This means that each hair has a band of colour. The most common coat colour is called ‘usual’ (or ‘ruddy’ outside the UK) and is dark brown on a pale brown background. Other colours include sorrel (cinnamon), blue, chocolate, lilac, fawn, red, and cream. There are also silver and tortie versions. Kittens are born with a dark coat that lightens as they mature. Their ears can be quite large, and their gold or green eyes are large and almond-shaped.

Graceful and athletic, these cats love to jump and climb. Provide them with a high perch or cat tree, ideally by a window, so they can watch their surroundings from up high. Also, provide a scratching post and, if they’re allowed outdoors, an enclosed space so that they can explore in safety.

Abyssinians are intelligent and easy to litter or toilet train. They can be taught various tricks such a fetch and puzzle toys can help keep them entertained.



Temperament and behaviour

Abyssinians are curious and very playful. They’re sociable and have a soft chirrup voice. They’ll be interested in whatever you’re doing and have a tendency to follow you around the house. Abys want to be the centre of your attention.

They’ll be happy in families with children and will usually tolerate dogs and other cats. If they’re left alone during the day while you’re are at work, a companion cat can keep them company. However ideally another Aby cat so they can keep each other entertained. They tend to have too much energy to be a lap cat though and are more suited to a large house with lots of space for them to explore. Most Abys are kept as indoor cats. They have a prey drive so playing games that allows them to use their hunting instincts will keep them entertained and happy.

Common health problems

Abys are a healthy and robust breed but can be affected by a couple of inherited conditions. Ask your breeder if their cats have been DNA tested and are negative for the genes responsible for these conditions.

PK deficiency is an inherited enzyme deficiency that affects red blood cells. Abyssinian cats can be affected by this condition, but the resulting anaemia is usually mild and can be managed. As it’s caused by an inherited genetic mutation, there’s no cure. A genetic test can identify those that will carry the gene. Affected cats and those that carry the gene should not be bred from.

Abyssinians can also be affected by retina degeneration, another inherited disease. Rod-cone degeneration in Abyssinian cats (RdAC) causes retinal degeneration and can lead to blindness. There is no cure. DNA testing for the gene mutation allows affected cats to be identified and not used for breeding. This means that the condition is no longer the problem that it was in the past.



What is an Abyssinian cat?

Abyssinian cats are slender with a distinctive ‘ticked’ coat. They have the look of an African wildcat and resemble cats of Ancient Egypt. Their name implies that they originated in Abyssinia which is now known as Ethiopia. However it’s now thought they may have come from an area nearer the Indian Ocean and south-east Asia. The breed was likely introduced into the UK by British soldiers who took a cat back to the UK from North Africa in the 1860s.

How long do Abyssinian cats live?

Abyssinians are a healthy breed and can have a lifespan of over 15 years.

Do Abyssinian cats shed?

These cats have a short, soft coat with a low tendency to shed. This doesn’t mean that they’re hypoallergenic though. They still produce the protein in their saliva that causes cat allergies.

How much do Abyssinian cats cost?

The price of an Abyssinian kitten from a good breeder can be upwards of £300.

Is an Abyssinian right for you?

If you welcome an Abyssinian cat into your home, be prepared for an energetic and playful companion. They don’t need much grooming but need space to explore and climb. They like to be busy so provide them with lots of toys. These extrovert cats are good with children and other pets including cat-friendly dogs. They make an excellent family pet and will want to be fully involved in family life.

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Content provided from Vetstream’s Vetlexicon

Vetstream Ltd (online) Abyssinian. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/freeform/abyssinian.

Michael Day, Urs Giger (online) Pyruvate kinase deficiency. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/pyruvate-kinase-deficiency

Natasha Mitchell, David Gould (online) Retina: inherited degenerations. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/retina-inherited-degenerations