The origin of the Abyssinian cat remains unclear, although several theories exist as to its exact origin. There are those who believe that the cat is native to Ethiopia, which was often referred to as Abyssinia. There are also those who believe that the cat’s origin is in Egypt from where a British solder travelled with a female cat named Zula all the way back to England in 1868.


Due to uncertainty regarding the origin of the eat, geneticists have recently undertaken studies to establish the correct place of origin. The geneticists have since traced the exact origin to the Indian Ocean coastline and along the Southeast Asian coastline.

The conclusions reached by these geneticists have some credence. It is along the Indian Ocean coastline where many indigenous animals from the interior parts of Africa were sold to early merchants to foreigners on voyage. It is therefore possible that the Abyssinian cat was sold along the coast, having been transported from Ethiopia.

It is also possible that the cat is native to the Southeast Asian coastline and, in particular, India. The Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland houses an exhibit of one of the earliest known Abyssinian cat. It is believed to have been purchased between 1834 and 1936 from Calcutta, which used to be a major stopping point for merchants and colonialists.

The Abyssinian Breed

Although the exact origin of the Abyssinian cat still remains cloudy, available records indicate that development of the breed occurred in Britain. In 1929 it was a time that the breed was introduced in the USA and France. It was not until 1909 that the cat was first exhibited in the USA as a breed.

The first cats exhibited in the USA were not of good quality, which made it necessary for importation of high quality cats from Britain. The arrival of the quality cats in 1930 laid the foundation for the modem USA Abyssinian cat-breeding programs. The breed was then introduced to New Zealand before its introduction in Australia. The breed was actually introduced into Australia in 1959 with importation of two cats from New Zealand and Britain. It was not until 1966 when the first Australian Abyssinian cat club; The Abyssinian Club of Australia was created.

Breakout of the WW II was a serious threat to the existence of the Abyssinian cat, particularly in Britain. The population of the cat reduced drastically, making it necessary for UK breeders to import the breed from USA to bolster the minimal existing numbers.

The Abyssinian cat is often confused with the Somali cat, a cat that is similar' to the Abyssinian except that it has long hair. The Somali cat is believed to be the descendant of the Abyssinian cat, which may also explain the theory that Abyssinian cats are native to Ethiopia. The Somali cat is no longer considered an Abyssinian; it is a distinct breed.

The beginning of the 1960s saw a remarkable increase in the numbers of Abyssinians, mostly in the USA, New Zealand, England and Australia. It is from these countries that the breed spread to other regions of the world. The spread of the breed in Europe was in particular very remarkable, with many homeowners across Europe choosing the cat as their indoor pets.

It is also at the beginning of 1960s that many Abyssinian cat clubs and Associations were established in different regions, laying a strong foundation for development of the breed. Many cat breeders indeed abandoned breeding other cat breeds in favor of the Abyssinian breed.

Abyssinian Character

Domestic cats have a general personality that is shared by any member of the cat family. These are inherent traits that the process of evolution imprinted on them — they make a cal what it is. However, not all cats will display all characteristics to the same degree: each is an individual unto itself.

The same is true of canine breeds. Each is the result of the same selection process that went into molding a group of cats into a very distinctive breed. In doing so, the breed's character was also shaped. The character of a sheepdog is very different than that of a gundog and that, in turn, of a guarding breed. While it cannot be said that cat breeds display such an extensive and distinctive range of breed-related traits as dogs, they nonetheless have them.

The Persian is very different from the Siamese, which is different from the Abyssinian. Breed-related characteristics may at times be very subtle, but they are there, as any cat lover who has owned numerous breeds will confirm. Characteristics are also subjective traits — we all see within our cats features and emotions that we believe to be very special, because only by constant and loving interaction between owners and their cats will personalities be fully displayed.


The Abyssinian is a breed that craves affection from its owner, yet it can be aloof and independent. It must be given time to itself when it wants it. It is not a breed that should be subjected to the rough handling of children. It is much more an adult's sort of cat. While it will make a fine family feline, it must be said that it is probably at its best in homes where there is no competition for the favors of its owner. It can be a possessive cat and does not readily give its affection unless it lias been earned.


The Abyssinian cat is a very intelligent breed, so you must provide it with the opportunity to utilize this faculty. This is done through playful interaction with it. Obtain safe toys from your local pet shop. Balls on a string and cat climbing frames are the sort of toys that enable your Abyssinian cat to focus its mind on something. These will also enable it to bum up a few calorics.

Exercise is important in such an active breed, and an Aby must be allowed to exercise as often as possible. It is a very athletic breed, as its conformation clearly suggests. If on one of its mad dashes from one room to another it destroys a few ornaments, it is a small price to pay for being an owner to such an imperial feline. To an Aby, the world and its owner's home are its oyster. You should keep this very much in mind. Such a noble breed should not be expected to behave like any common street cat, alter all it was carefully bred to be a cat of high standard.

The more space you have the better. An Abyssinian will not appreciate restrictions. It will be at its best in a home where it ran explore and run around. A home where it enjoys lots of interaction with its human companions.

By all means hang on to your day job, but you must be prepared to devote as much of your spare time as possible to entertaining an Abyssinian. This will result in the full development of its personality. They really do thrive on affection and are unsuited to homes where their owners cannot devote at least some time during each day to handling them.


Another trait of most Abyssinians is that they are very much kitten-cats. This means that while many felines become more mature and adult in their demeanor as they grow up, the Aby retains a Peter Pan quality to its personality. It matures physically and emotionally but never loses the mischievous side of its nature it displayed when it was a cute kitty. Always inquisitive and ready for a game, an Abyssinian cat is only as old as it feels, and it always feels young at heart.

The down side of this characteristic is that to an Abyssinian, curtains and shelves arc things for their sole amusement! However, with a bit of training, an Aby is intelligent enough to compromise. It will accept that you must be allowed a few concessions if you are to provide all the other good things in life that such a breed expects, befitting its status in the social hierarchy of the feline world.


You do not need to be blessed with the flowing coat of a Persian or the bright parti-colors of some breeds to be instantly stamped with that quality we call elegance. The Abyssinian is a true blue-blood. developed by the aristocracy for their own pleasure. Times may have changed, but the regal bearing and majestic look of the Aby oozes superiority without the need to rely on any effects other than those that are inherent within the breed.

It is one of the least exaggerated cats. You cannot point to any particular anatomical feature that is striking. It is the intrinsic way in which all its features combine to say, "Now there is a truly magnificent feline". It is this fact that is, perhaps, the very quintessence of what a natural, yet noble feline is all about.

There are, of course, those who would say that the Abyssinian is a plain-looking breed. But the connoisseur would answer by saying that only when you have tried the lesser wines can you appreciate the quality and refinement of one that has been carefully tended and matured to give of its fragrance and delicate taste. To some, the Aby instantly strikes them as a very special breed. To others, it takes time and experience with other breeds before they can appreciate a feline so gracefully put together in every way.

Gallery of Abyssinian