Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Characteristics of the Abyssinian Cat

The Abyssinian, or Aby, is one of the most popular cats, both as a pet and a show cat. Most people would recognize this distinctive breed, even if they don’t know what to call it. The Abyssinian was once worshipped by the ancient Egyptians and is the cat depicted in most ancient artwork. The inner grace and beauty of this creature makes it an appealing companion for many people.

The Personality of the Abyssinian

Abyssinians are highly intelligent cats known for their loyalty and affection. They love to interact with both their owners and their environment and they love to explore. However, they are delicate enough that they’ll rarely knock over priceless heirlooms or the random saltshaker. Abyssinians enjoy having a good view of what’s going on around them, so expect them to sit high atop the fridge, a bookshelf, or even perching on the tops of doors. They are intensely curious and will follow whatever catches their eye, so they should be kept indoors.

Due to their high energy level, an Abyssinian will only rarely curl up on a vacant lap or sneak under the covers. They do enjoy playing with their beloved owners and will likely engage in a round of fetch in their more kittenish moments. These cats are highly social, but they don’t do well in large groups of cats. Abyssinians simply do not like to share the spotlight and are better suited to single cat households.

The Physical Appearance of the Abyssinian

The most defining characteristic of the Abyssinian is its unique coat. The richly colored fur has a ticked tabby pattern free of markings on its legs, tail, and neck. However, the perfect Abyssinian has dramatic facial markings. Each individual hair on Abyssinians is ticked with four to six distinct bands of color. These bands should alternate between dark and light, with the lighter beginning at the root, the darker at the tip. Ideally, the color at the root should be identical to the color on the underside of the cat, as well as the color on the insides of its legs. The eyes should be gold or green, though some associations such as the Cat Fanciers’ Federation (CFF) recognize hazel as an appropriate eye color. These cats are medium in size, with males weighing in from 8-10 pounds. Females should be slightly smaller at 6-7 pounds.

Abyssinians come in several different colors. The most common is the ruddy Abyssinian. The coat should be burnt sienna in color, ticked with various shades of darker brown or black. The undercoat should be orange-brown and the tail may be tipped with black. The nose leather should be a tile red, but the paw pads must be either black or brown. The ruddy Abyssinian is accepted in all major associations where the breed is recognized.

Blue Abyssinians are particularly striking. Their coats are warm beige ticked with shades of slate blue. The undercoat should be blush beige and the tail must be tipped with slate blue. The nose leather should be a deep rose in color, often referred to as old rose. The paw pads are usually mauve with slate blue between the toes. This color is accepted in all major associations where the breed is recognized.

Fawn Abyssinians are a warm rose beige ticked with light cocoa brown. The undercoat should be blush-beige and the tails must be tipped with light cocoa brown. The nose leather is typically salmon while the paw pads are dark pink with light cocoa brown between the toes. This color is now accepted in all major associations where the breed in recognized.

Red is has become a common color for Abyssinians. The coat should be rich, warm, glowing red ticked with chocolate brown. The undercoat should be bright red while the tail is tipped with chocolate brown. The nose leather is usually a rosy pink and the paw pads are a solid pink with chocolate brown between the toes. This color is accepted by in all major associations where the breed is recognized, though the International Cat Association (TICA) calls this color cinnamon.

Lilac is a beauty and unique color for Abyssinians. A lilac Abyssinian is a pale ivory ticked with a frosty gray. The undercoat is a pale ivory and the tail is tipped with frosty gray. The nose leather is always mauve or pink. Paw pads should be lilac pink with a dusty lilac between the toes. This color is only recognized by TICA and the American Cat Association (ACA).

Cream is one of the less recognized colors. Cream Abyssinians should be a pale cream in color, ticked with a darker cream. The undercoat is an even paler cream and the ears and tail should be ticked with darker cream. The nose leather should be rosy pink, as should the paw pads. This color is only recognized by the ACA.

Both the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE) and TICA accept the silver version of each of their recognized colors. This means that an icy white coloration closest to the skin is followed by ticking up the hair shaft.

The Abyssinian is active, agile, animated, loving, and intelligent. These cats make engaging companions for people of any age and can easily adapt themselves to most environments. Abyssinians are truly a remarkable breed.

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