The Abyssinian

The Abyssinian cat, also known as Aby, is a fun-loving, affectionate, and friendly breed. They are very active and very intelligent. They are both entertaining and energetic. They like to climb to the highest available spot to survey their surroundings. 

Plan to spend a lot of time with your Abyssinian, as they enjoy playing with adults, children, strangers and other pets. They do require a fair amount of brain stimulation as well as attention several times per day. This breed loves to play, so having toys available for them to play with is important.

The training of an Aby requires patience and persistence. They thrive on praise and will learn well with positive reinforcement. The use of scratching posts around the home will give your cat something to scratch and should save some wear and tear on your furniture. Be sure to remind your pet to use them. 

Abyssinians are not cold tolerant, but do love to sunbathe. They will need your help to ensure that they do not spend too long in direct sunlight or they may get sunburned.

an abyssinian cat looking right at you

The Abyssinian Information

  • Average Height: 8 to 10 inches
  • Average Length: 12 to 16 inches
  • Average Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
  • Coat Type: Medium 
  • Coat Appearance: They have a short, silky coat with a fine texture
  • Coat Colors: Rudy brown, blue, fawn, and cinnamon
  • Grooming Needs: Medium
  • Shedding: Low
  • Brushing Requirements: They need to be brushed once a week
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Excessive Meow: No
  • Good tolerance to Heat and Cold: No
  • Good Pet: They are friendly and affectionate, so yes.
  • Safe with Children: Loves being around children, so yes!
  • Good with Other Cats: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: Yes
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: No
  • Suitable for First-Time Cat Owners: Yes but they tend to jump a lot 
  • Exercise Needs: Medium 
  • Weight Gain: Medium
  • Health Concerns: Hyperesthesia Syndrome, Patellar luxation, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD), Renal amyloidosis, and periodontal disease 
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 9 to 13 years
abyssinian cat ready to pounce

Physical Appearance of Abyssinians 

The Abyssinian is a medium-sized cat with a long body that has a sleek look. The cat has long and slim legs. They stand well off the ground giving the appearance that the cat is standing on the tips of their toes. Their paws are oval and small with the front paws having five toes and back paws having four.

They have a somewhat rounded and wedge-shaped head. The ears are broad, pointed, and slightly bent in the forward direction. The cat has large almond-shaped eyes which can be golden or green in color. The tail is long and thick and smooth with a tapering towards the tip.

Abyssinians have a medium-length coat that has a silky and soft texture. Their coat has a ticked pattern with alternating colors of light and dark. This looks similar to the ones on wild cats like cougars. The coat comes in four different colors, each having a unique color shade on the snout and paws of the cat. 

Temperament of Abyssinians

The Abyssinians are known for being sweet and kind. The cat is very intelligent and always curious about things. They are highly active and love moving around the house. Unlike other cats that like to spend most of their time on the lap of their owners, they are always looking forward to playing with someone. The cat is also very affectionate towards the owners.

They can adapt to any environment making them a great choice for singles, couples; and larger families. The cat does not mind having strangers at home and enjoys being around other pets like dogs. In fact, they love to make friends and play with them.

Give them a lot of toys to play with. You can give them puzzles, ping pong balls, bottle caps, and similar toys. They are quick learners and you could also teach them some tricks like retrieving the toys or other objects.    

These cats are very smart and you will have to entertain them to keep them occupied. Have them play games two times in a day. You can play puzzles, train them to retrieve toys, or play other interesting games. Since they like to jump you can get an indoor cat tree for them. They are highly active and climbing the cat tree will help to take care of their physical exercise and mental agility.

Another interesting thing you will notice about them is they love to perch and look down on the home.  They will usually climb to the highest point they can get to and just observe things.  If you have thought about getting a cat tower, this would be the cat that would always use it.  Just make sure that they’re not going to knock anything down from wherever they will perch.

Training an Abyssinian

These cats are intelligent and easy to train. As long as you have a litter box that gives them some privacy, and is big enough for them to comfortably fit inside you should have no problems with them using it.  Just remember to keep it clean as this is the main reason why a cat may not use the litter box.

You may see a few accidents in the beginning but do not punish them. Give them praise and treats whenever they use the litter box. This will help them to understand what kind of behavior is expected of them. 

To take care of their scratching habits, set up scratching posts around the house. Whenever you see them scratching your furniture or any other object, pick them and take the cat to the nearest scratching post. This will take care of their scratching habits and also prevent damage to your furniture. It may take time for them to get used to it in the beginning but eventually, they will learn.

If you already have pets in your home then there are some basic steps to take to teach the new cat how to interact with the existing pets.  After you’ve introduced the new cat to each pet, observe their behavior.  If the new cat is doing things that the other pets don’t like, you should step in and tell them no.  You want to do this before an existing pet tells the new one for you.

Clicker training is becoming more popular now. Make a noise with the clicker when the cat does something which is considered good behavior. It will let them know that this is something that you like and hopefully will do it more frequently.

an abyssinian cat closely watching something
abyssinian kitten hanging on to a scratching post

Their Compatibility with Children

They are one of the best cats for families with children. Abys loves to play with children. They enjoy the attention they receive from children and return the same with affection and care. 

The cat is smart and knows that they should stay out of reach of toddlers hands. Also, they do not act aggressively toward children.

Older children are a perfect match for the high energy these cats have. You will see them running and playing together for most of the day. They also really enjoy cuddles and lap time.

Best Climate for Abyssinians

Moderate temperatures are considered best for Abyssinians. Unlike some cats like Himalayans, they do not have a long and dense coat to keep them warm in cold temperatures. 

As for the hot climate, their body has a thin layer of fur that helps the cat to stay cool in warm temperatures. Some cats may try to enjoy the sunshine by laying near the windows or doors. Be careful not to let them lay for too long in the sun as they can get a sunburn.

The Attention an Abyssinian Needs

The cat needs a lot of attention. They are an active cat and while they will love the affection you give them as they sit next to you, they prefer to be doing things.  While they are smart enough to solve puzzle toys to get treats, you should keep these for when you cannot actually spend time with them.

If you have a mouse on a stick or a laser pointer toy they can play with these for a long time.  Batting balls around will be a common occurrence in your home with them.  It might sound like a lot of work but usually you can just make their day by getting their attention and rolling it in their general direction.  They will often retrieve it and bring it back so that you can roll it again.

If you have a family that stays away from home for many hours, it would be good to get a second Aby. These cats like attention and leaving them alone could be a concern. The cat in their attempt to escape boredom might damage things in your house while jumping around. Having a companion means they will always have someone to play with.

Health Issues

Most Abyssinian Cats will live a healthy life but like any other animal, they too can have certain hereditary and acquired health conditions. 

The most common disease found in cats is periodontal disease. It is a common gum and teeth disease that occurs when small food particles or bacteria build-up inside the mouth. This can turn into plaque. In severe cases, the plaque can enter the bloodstream and cause kidney or liver diseases.

The Aby can also have a neurological problem called Hyperesthesia Syndrome. This causes the cat to groom themselves excessively which can lead to loss of hair, acting excited, or behave weirdly. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic eye disease that many cats can have. It first causes loss of night vision and gradually results in complete blindness. If you see your cat is bumping into walls or furniture you should take them to the vet to check whether they have PRA. Early treatment will help to limit the damage to the retina.

Abyssinians can also have Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD), a hereditary condition that can result in the rapid breakdown of the red blood cells. 

Another hereditary condition is patellar luxation which causes mild to severe dislocation of the kneecap. In severe cases, surgery might be required. 

an abyssinian cat laying on a cat tower
an abyssinian kitten looking to the right

Renal amyloidosis is also a hereditary condition that leads to the deposit of protein amyloid in the internal organs of the body. The amyloid getting deposited in the kidney often leads to kidney failure.

Bathing, Coat, and Cleaning

The Abyssinian cats have a medium-length coat that sheds moderately. The coat needs to be brushed once a week to remove the loose hair. Always use a soft bristle brush to brush them. 

Abyssinian are prone to have periodontal disease. They should have their teeth brushed every six months to keep them clean. If you want to be proactive with their health you can brush them between these vet visits.  Just use a toothpaste recommended by your vet. 

Trim their nails every other week. 

Some cats might have teary eyes. To remove the stain you can use a damp cloth to softly wipe the area under the eyes. 

Check their ears once every week for dirt, wax buildup, or redness. If there is any dirt or wax use a moist cotton ball to softly clean only the visible part of the ears. Check their body, paws, and legs for any signs of redness or bad odors while brushing them every week. If you see any sign of infections, call your vet immediately.

Feeding An Abyssinian

The recommended meal size is ⅓ to ½ cups of high quality cat food. This should be divided into two meals during the day. The exact meal size will depend upon the activity your cat does during the day and also on the age of your cat. Always serve them at a set time to keep them from worrying about when they will be fed next. 

The cat food that you feed should contain taurine which is an essential nutrient that every cat needs. It is an amino acid that nourishes the brain, eyes, and also helps to improve the immune system. If you are not sure whether your cat food has this nutrient you can consult your vet on which food to serve.

Related Questions:

Are Abyssinian Cats pedigree or cross-bred?

They are a pedigree breed but their exact origin is not accurately known. Though they are named Abyssinian they did not originate from Abyssinian, Ethiopia. These cats are one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds and people used to trace their roots back to the city Zula. 

But the latest evidence shows that they might have originated from the Indian Sub-continent and had been brought West by British and Dutch traders in the 19th century.

a large pile of multi colored cat food

How high can the Abyssinian Cats jump?

They can jump up to a height of six feet. They are curious and always in search of something interesting. You will often find them at the highest points in your home. It is recommended that if you have this breed you avoid keeping sharp or other harmful objects on the top of your furniture. 

In their excitement, the cat may not see the object and might accidentally hurt themselves. It is always possible that they may accidentally bump things off from shelves too.

Can Abyssinian Cats Stay in a small apartment?

It actually depends on how you train them. Though they can adjust to all types of environments, Aby is very active and loves to jump around. Staying in a small apartment can prevent the cat from enjoying themselves to the fullest. So it is generally not recommended to have them stay in small apartments.

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