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The Abyssinian Cat

The Abyssinian is a very old breed and its origins are not
entirely clear. Abyssinian cats look similar to paintings
done by the ancient Egyptians, with arched necks, almond
shaped eyes, muscular bodies that are usually brown in
coloring with markings, and large ears. The Abyssinian still
looks a lot like the jungle cat, Felis lybica, an African
wildcat ancestor of today's domestic cats.

The name "Abyssinian" comes from Ethiopia, which was
formerly called Abyssinia. It is believed that this breed
originated in Ethiopia and that the first Abyssinians that
where exhibited in England were from that country. But there
are no written records to trace the Abyssinian breed back to
those imported cats and some people are of the opinion that
the Abyssinian was created in Britain by crossing silver and
brown tabbies with British ticked cats.

Genetic studies that have been done on Abyssinians trace the
origins of the breed to the coast of the Indian Ocean and
parts of Southeast Asia. The earliest identified Abyssinian
is exhibited in the Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland as a
taxidermist piece. It was purchased around 1835 from a
supplier of small wild cat exhibits and is labeled as
"Patrie, domestica India".

It is, however, undisputable that the Abyssinian breed was
refined in England. It is thought that perhaps the breed
migrated over to England with merchants and colonists from
Calcutta, a major port on the Indian Ocean. Abyssinians were
imported to North America in the early 1900's and were the
foundation for the American Abyssinian cat breeding program.

Carolyn Osier, in the Abyssinian Breeders International
"Kitten Buyer's Guide," says, "Abyssinians must be one of
the most intelligent animals ever created." She describes
these cats as "...a very people-oriented cat. Not a lap
cat... but a cat that likes to be with people, a cat that
wants to know what you are doing -that wants to help. There
is probably no breed anywhere more loyal than the Aby. Once
you have acquired an Aby as a companion, you will never be
able to complain that no one understands you. Abys are very
good at training people to do just what they want them to
do."

Abyssinians need toys and scratching posts as they are an
active breed that is intelligent and likes to play. And, of
course, if you don't intend to breed your Abyssinian, be
sure to spay or neuter your cat.

The type of Abyssinian usually determines the purchase
price. There are a number of factors involved, including
markings and bloodline. Kittens of the Abyssinian are
usually adopted out at around twelve weeks of age, after
they have had their basic immunizations and have been
socialized to live with humans as a companion.



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