Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: Abyssinian

Abyssinians are one of the most majestic and popular cats today. From their stunning coat pattern to their splendid conformation, these cats are truly a beauty to behold. Their balanced temperaments make them wonderful companions, and their regal bearing makes them seem to know far more than they should.

The Development of the Abyssinian

The ancient origins of the Abyssinian are composed of many alternating theories. Some claim that the Abyssinian is descended from cats worshipped by the Egyptians over four thousand years ago. Others are sure that the Abyssinian first originated in the deep jungles of North Africa, and that they were later brought to England by sailors in the late 1860s. Still others are convinced that the Abyssinian began as nothing more than ticked tabbies in the fields of Great Britain. Regardless of its ancient origins, the Abyssinian has developed into a very distinctive breed.

The first Abyssinian to arrive in the United States belonged to a woman named Jan Cathcart of New Jersey, and these cats were probably silver in color. Though these cats were shown in Boston in 1909, the first recorded Abyssinian litter was not born in the United States until 1935.

After World War II, the development of the Abyssinian progressed rapidly due mostly to increased interest in the breed. At first, Abyssinians were difficult and uncooperative at shows, as they did not adjust well to being handled by strangers. Since those days, the temperament of the Abyssinian has greatly improved, largely due to selective breeding.

Colors range for the Abyssinian. Accepted colors include blue, fawn, red, ruddy, lilac, and cream. All Abyssinians have distinct and even ticking, with dark-colored bands contrasting with light-colored bands.

Some Breed Standards for the Abyssinian

The standards for the Abyssinian in shows are fairly strict, as with most other breeds. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: Abyssinians should be colorful with a ticked coat, medium in size and very regal. The body should be lithe, muscular, and hard, and the cat should show a lively interest in everything. Temperaments should be well-balanced and gentle.

Head: The head should be a slightly rounded wedge with no flat planes. The brow, cheek, and profile lines should all show a gentle contour. The forehead should be of a good size, with some width between the ears.

Ears: The Abyssinian has large, alert, and moderately pointed ears. The hair on the ears should be very short and close lying.

Eyes: Eyes should be almond shaped, large, expressive, and brilliant. They should be neither round nor oriental, and should be either gold or green in color.

Body: Abyssinians are medium-long and very lithe. They are extremely graceful, and have a muscular body that is devoid of coarseness. Proportion and balance are more important that size. The legs should be slim and fine boned. When standing, an Abyssinian should appear to be on its tiptoes. The front foot should have five toes, the back foot should have four.

Tail: The tails of all Abyssinians should be thick at the base, fairly long, and gently tapering.

Coat: The coat should be very dense and resilient to the touch with a high lustrous sheen, but it should also be soft, silky, and fine. Though only medium in length, the coat should be long enough to accommodate two or three dark bands of ticking on each and every hair.

Penalties: Any of the following may result in a penalty for any Abyssinian: long, narrow head; rings on the tail; gray tones in the coat; barring on legs; off-color pads.

Disqualifications: An Abyssinian will be disqualified immediately if there is any white anywhere on the body other than nostrils, chin, and upper throat area. Also, kinked or abnormal tails, gray undercoat, or the incorrect number of toes will result in disqualification.

The Abyssinian is a wonderful and elegant companion for many cat-lovers. They’re regal appearance and upbeat attitude make them a delightful addition to countless households.

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