Breed Spotlight: The Abyssinian Cat

Abyssinian cat on a gray background

Intelligent and loyal, Abyssinian Cats are affectionately nicknamed “Abys.” If you are lucky enough to have one, you may appreciate its alert and spontaneous nature. They love to play, always at the center of attention. Jumping and being in high places is behaviour of cats.

Abyssinian History

One of the oldest known cat breeds around, there is some speculation about its origin. Some believe that it originated in what is now known as Ethiopia. Others think it was first found in parts of Southeast Asia and around the coast of the Indian Ocean. The most-believed history is that the Abyssinian is a descendant of the sacred cats that were held in the highest-regard in ancient Egypt.

Abyssinian Physical Traits

Elegant in stature, the Abyssinian is medium in size and has a strong and muscular, limber body and a wedge-shaped face. It has small, distinguishing tufts on the tips of its ears. Its wide, almond-shaped eyes are brilliant and expressive. It has a short coat, and its color may be ruddy, red, blue, or fawn. Although it resembles a small African wildcat, it is domesticated to the core.

Genetic Health Traits

All pedigreed cats have a predisposition of inheriting a particular disease. For the Abyssinian, its hereditary health issue is known as pyruvate kinase deficiency. When an animal is deficient in pyruvate kinase, they typically have intermittent anemia. Caused by a recessive gene, this condition may be found with DNA testing. Symptoms of PK deficiency may include depression, lethargy, lack of appetite, and an enlarged abdomen. Symptoms may show as soon as six months, so it is a good idea to have your Abyssinian tested early.


It is a piece of cake to keep an Abyssinian cat groomed. All you need to do is brush it weekly with a stainless-steel comb to remove dead hair and keep its coat shiny. Every few weeks, trim down its nails. Be sure to brush its teeth regularly with kitty toothpaste so that it doesn’t develop periodontal disease.


Not big fans of cuddling, Abyssinians are high-spirited in nature. When they are restrained, they often try to break free. These curious and courageous cats would prefer to sit by your side than on your lap. With that being said, they are typically affectionate and loving creatures who don’t mind being petted.

Though they are not co-dependent in nature, they do love being in the same room with you, particularly when you pay attention to them performing their clownlike antics. These natural athletes enjoy racing about, making flying leaps at your highest furniture, and purring wildly. Due to their inquisitive and social personality, you can even teach them to go for walks on a leash.

Puzzle toys will keep your Abyssinian entertained and out of trouble. You can even use a clicker to teach them tricks. Birdwatching is one of their favorite sports, so placing a feeder near a window will make them happy.