A Guide to the Abyssinian Cat

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

22 September 2016

abyssinian cat breed profile infographic



The Abyssinian cat is named after the Ethiopian Empire, although the evidence now suggests that these cats are probably from Egypt or India via Britain. No matter, while the name may be a mouthful, it makes for some irresistible Abyssini-pun material.


In retrospect, it’s no surprise that this cat breed originated in Egypt - its slender, fine-boned body is the spitting image of the cats worshipped in ancient Egypt. The Abyssinian’s long legs end in tiny paws, giving the impression of an animal that lives life on its toes. Its large, pointed ears keep you under constant surveillance, and its almond-shaped eyes are incredibly expressive. What are they saying? Don’t look at us, that’s for you to find out!

The Abyssinian’s fur is quite short, but dense and beautifully silky to touch. The coat grows in a ‘ticked’ pattern, similar to a tabby (that is, a Tabby-ssinian): each hair has a light base with three or four bands of colour growing progressively darker. The most common varieties are: reddish-brown banded with black, and cinnamon banded with chocolate brown - for the dessert lovers out there. The coat will be darker along the spine and tail, and may be lighter on the cat’s chin.

Less common colours include:

  • Blue on beige
  • Tan on cream
  • Chocolate on lilac
  • Black on silver


The Abyssinian is extremely energetic and positively Aby-silly-an. These affectionate cats love climbing, playing and, most of all, your attention. What’s more, thanks to their intelligence and persistence, they know how to get it. You may want to reply to those e-mails, but you know what’s more fun? Playing whack-a-mole with your keyboard until you fetch the feather wand! While you might disagree, know that your Abyssinian doesn’t take rejection very well. These kitties are used to worship, remember? Keeping your cat entertained with toys and games is essential, and they may become depressed or mischievous if you consistently ignore them. Speaking of fetch, this animal’s intelligence means that it can be trained as easily as it trains you.

As outgoing as Abyssinians are, they are very quiet cats, and let their gorgeous eyes do most of the talking. You might also be surprised to find them to be shy around strangers. However, once they get over their initial caution, they will be fast friends. This cat can learn to get along not only with dogs, but other animals - even ferrets and large birds. That said, this graceful cat may not appreciate young children who handle them in a rough manner. Also, females in particular may not tolerate sharing your love with other cats.


Your Abyssinian’s short coat does not need much maintenance, a weekly comb should be plenty, in addition to all the other grooming that a healthy cat requires. Pay particular attention to brushing your cat’s teeth, as this breed can be prone to gingivitis. Good breeding practice means Australian Abyssinians are largely free of other health problems, although be mindful of your cat’s stress levels - this breed may over-groom when tense, leading to hair loss.

This breed loves to climb and explore, but letting your cat explore freely exposes it to risk of cars, disease, animal attack and theft, as well as endangering native wildlife. We recommend buying your cat an outdoor enclosure so that it can climb and play in peace.


This breed’s short coat and minimal shedding makes it an excellent choice for those with allergies, and studies have suggested that the Abyssinian is hypoallergenic (producing less allergens than other breeds).

Suggested Names

The mythical association with ancient Egypt was just too much for us to pass up when it came to naming these little deities. Here are our suggestions:

  • Ramses
  • Tut
  • Cleo
  • Baset
  • Niles

If you still need convincing, let us help you fall in love with the Abyssinian; or maybe you want a less energetic kitty? It’s okay, we won’t judge. Find the cat that’s right for you here.


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