Ancient Abyssinians: The “Miniature Cougars” of the Cat World

But Why?

Ancient Abyssinians: The “Miniature Cougars” of the Cat World

Photos by Animal Photography

I’ve admitted in the past that I was always more of a dog person than a cat person. I liked cats; I thought they were beautiful creatures, but I always gravitated towards dogs over cats. But why do I also now consider myself to be a cat person?

Somewhere in my 30s, I began to have a bigger interest in cats and I started researching all the cat breeds. I quickly became fascinated with several breeds of cats, but one breed in particular really caught my eye—the Abyssinian. 

The Abyssinian cat breed has an absolutely stunning appearance. They have lean, muscular bodies, and a unique coat color and pattern that resembles the appearance of a wild cougar, earning them the nickname the “miniature cougars” of the domestic cat world. The coat pattern is a “ticked” tabby pattern. Traditional tabby pattern is striped with each individual hair being a solid color so the striped pattern is visible. But in a ticked pattern, each individual hair has variations in color. Typically, each hair will have a minimum of three stripes varying between darker and lighter tones, giving the coat a flickering effect. This pattern has smooth color transitions with no visible stripes or patterns, and the hairs are short and dense with a slightly lighter and softer undercoat.

Abyssinians can be found in four main colors. The first color is Ruddy, also called “Usual,” which is a warm brown base with black ticking and the undercoat is a warm orange. The next color is Red, Sorrel or Cinnamon, which is a reddish base with chocolate brown ticking and an apricot-colored undercoat in similar tone to the base color. The third color is known as Blue, which is very similar in appearance to the Ruddy pattern, but instead of red tones, the Blue Abyssinians have a warm blue-grey base with steel blue or grey ticking and a very light cream undercoat. Their color is just as striking as the Ruddy.  And the fourth color is Fawn, a pinkish buff-colored base with darker buff ticking and a very light cream undercoat. 


Abyssinians are one of the oldest known cat breeds. And although the Abyssinian cat carries the name of ancient Ethiopia because of where the first imported cats to England came from, recent DNA advances in genetic studies show that the roots of this breed’s ancestry stem from the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean and parts of Southeast Asia.

The first Abyssinians to be imported to the United States occurred in the early 1900s, but the first quality breeding stock that formed the base of the current population in the U.S. didn’t come into the country until the 1930s.  In 1934, the first 10 Abyssinians were recorded in the Cat Fanciers Association studbooks, which are the cats that founded the breed in the CFA. 

The Abyssinian cat is an energetic, affectionate, confident and curious breed of cat. They are highly intelligent and extremely social, always wanting to be a part of every family activity. The athletic abilities of Abyssinians can sometimes seem as though they defy gravity as they spring through the air from one place to another, gliding effortlessly and landing with the lightest of feet. Their curious nature can sometimes get them into mischief. They say, “If a door opens, your Abyssinian will get inside,” and they live up to that reputation. Every cabinet, closet or room door that opens, your Abyssinian will run through full force, which is why you must always exercise caution and make sure you know where your kitty is, as they can accidently get locked inside of closets or cabinets by sneaking inside in the blink of an eye! 

When it comes to affection, the Abyssinians rank among some of the most affectionate cats that exist. While they’re not known as being lap animals, they love to be with their families, and their constant ploy for your attention and petting makes up for their dislike of being held for too long. While Abyssinians are not a very vocal breed, they do tend to express themselves by tapping you with their paw, head-butting you or rubbing against you as they purr loudly.

Because Abyssinians have very short, dense coats, grooming is generally an easy process. Abyssinians are not as put off by water as many other cat breeds are, instead many Abyssinians tend to enjoy playing with water, and when introduced properly, can enjoy bathing and grooming and accept it easily. Regular nail trimming and brushing in between baths will keep your Aby clean and happy, and when groomed regularly, they don’t shed much.

Living with an Abyssinian cat has certainly made life more interesting. For someone who once called himself a dog person, I can officially say that an Abyssinian cat has made me into a bit of a cat person as well.  I truly cannot imagine not having this special creature by my side, sleeping next to me at night or laying next to me on the couch as I catch up on my shows. If you’re thinking about bringing a fabulous feline into your life, consider an Abyssinian and discover what I’ve been lucky enough to learn about this wonderful breed. ✂️

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