Somali Cat

An elegant, sweet-natured and affectionate breed. Basically, it is the semi-longhaired equivalent of the Abyssinian. It is the occasional "fluffy" kitten that appeared in early litters and was dismissed as a poor example of the Abyssinian breed.


The Somali cat is believed by many to be an Abyssinian except that it is long-haired. There are also others who identify this breed of cat as Fox cat due to its appearance. Both are neither wrong nor right.

The Somali cat breed can be said to have originated by chance or fate. This is because the breed's appearance was just at a time when many cat breeders were frantically trying to establish a breeding standard for the Abyssinian breed. The history of the breed goes back to 1940s when a British cat breeder exported true Abyssinian kittens to different parts of the world including Canada and Australia. Due to gene mutation, some of these kittens once mature gave birth to kittens with long hair, which was not the true Abyssinian cat breeding standard.

Many cat breeders whose cats gave birth to long-haired kittens chose to ignore them, viewing them as undesirable kittens. One Canadian Abyssinian cat breeder named Mary mailing had a different view of similar kittens she obtained from her Abyssinian cats. She chose to exhibit one of the extraordinary kittens at a cat show in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1963, showing it alongside her Abyssinian kittens and cats.

On noticing the extra-ordinary breed, the Canada Cat Association appointed judge by the name Ken McGill became curious. Although other exhibitors did not show interest, the judge did, requesting mailing for her permission to have one of the unusual kittens, a request that Mailing readily accepted. The judge went on to establish the oldest known Somali cat line.

About the same time in the USA, one Evelyn Mague noticed that her Abyssinian cats had given birth to long-haired kittens. She embarked on breeding the longhaired kittens (Somalis) without realizing that she was establishing the Somali cat breed in the USA. The name "Somali" was actually coined by Evelyn who after receiving a call from a lady with Abyssinian cat wanted a different breed of cat. Evelyn took to her one of the long-haired kittens (Somali) and to her surprise, the lady readily welcomed the kitten, mesmerized by its beautiful long hair. Since the Abyssinian originated from Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Evelyn chose to give the kitten the name of a neighbouring country; she settled for Somali, in effect giving the breed its name.

The Somali is a very popular cat breed both in Canada and the USA. Indeed, many homeowners chose the breed in the 1970s as their most preferred cat breed. The breed however only came to be recognized officially in Europe in the 1980s. Although individual homeowners around the world recognize this cat, it is yet to be officially recognized by other cat organizations in other regions of the world.


Somali is a medium-sized cat that exhibits soft hair which is also medium in length. It has a characteristic bushy tail that has earned it the nickname of "fix cat". Looking at the cat gives you the impression of a cat that always remains alert. It is indeed not only alert but very intelligent and curious. Looking at the cat standing also gives you the impression that it stands on its toes.

Somali cats feature the tabby "M" on their foreheads with dark pencil strokes originating from the eyes. Looking a Somali cat's eye gives the impression that the cat wears eye liner. This is simply because of the pencil strokes.

A pure-bred Somali cat bred to standard has a head that is mildly wedged. The skull remains rounded but proportional to rest of the body.

Although muscular, a Somali cat features a lean and graceful body that remains medium in length. The feet remain compact.

Somali cats feature a dense, feathery and fine double coat. The tail remains bushy.

A standard Somali cat should be in ruddy, fawn, brown or blue colour. The colour should remain plain without any form of pattern or shading. A Somali cat's colour development is slow with colour becoming prominent when a cat attains the age of 18 months.

Like with other cat breeds, female Somali cats weight less than males. While adult females weight between 6 and 10 pounds (3 and 7 kg), adult males weigh between 10 and 12 pounds (7 and 10 kg).

Origin: U.S.A.

Grooming: 4/5

Activity: 5/5

GCCF Group: Semi-Longhairs


Outgoing and intelligent, Somalis love company and do not like being left by themselves. That said, they do not always enjoy a crowded feline household as they appreciate plenty of one-to-one attention from their owner.

Its activity level is similar to that of the Abyssinian, its cousin. Unlike the Abyssinian however, the Somali is not outgoing. Although it is kept as an indoor pet, it also thrives outdoors where it has enough room to spend its energy. You will need to do a lot of work if you choose to keep the cat indoors. You will need to have several scratch posts, different types of toys and ample climbing structures to prevent the cat from feeling bored.

It is attention-seeking and will do everything just to get your attention, which it will do through soft but firm meows and expressive eyes. It is simply a cheeky, charming breed of cat that you need to keep engaged otherwise it resorts to destructive activities especially when restricted outdoors.

Suitability as a pet

A quiet-voiced but active breed that will suit most family circumstances, especially given the opportunity to roam outdoors. The Somali cat is a real huntin', shootin' and fishin' cat and will often bring back little presents! Time must be spent on grooming.

Gallery of Somali Cat