Abyssinian

Janelle Leeson
By

Janelle Leeson

. Reviewed by Barri J. Morrison, DVM
Updated Oct. 13, 2023
red abyssinian cat looking at the camera

In This Article

General Care

Abyssinian cats, also known as Abys, have a striking resemblance to the cats depicted in ancient Egyptian murals. They have almond-shaped eyes, perky ears, and a slender build. Some people believe Abyssinians are the direct descendants of these revered ancient cats, while others suggest they originated in what is now Ethiopia and journeyed alongside British soldiers to England, according to the Abyssinian Cat Club

All Abyssinian cats have an agouti coat, which means each strand of hair flaunts multiple colors: a dark band, a light band, and a dark tip. This gives their silky fur a salt-and-pepper, or ticked, appearance.

Caring for an Abyssinian

Abys are medium-size kitties who stand 8–10 inches tall and weigh 8–12 pounds. They’re loyal, intelligent, and energetic. While they require plenty of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, they’re also relatively easy to care for and don't require a lot of grooming. This makes Abyssinians a good choice for first-time pet parents.

Abyssinian Health Issues

Abyssinians have an expected lifespan of 9–13 years and are prone to a few health issues, so pet insurance is worth considering.

Fortunately, some common health conditions in Abyssinians can be genetically tested using a DNA test. Working with a reputable breeder will help ensure your Abyssinian kitten has the best start to life.

Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a condition caused by the abnormal deposition of protein into tissues of the body. When too much protein builds up, it can disrupt the normal function of organs, leading to conditions such as liver failure and kidney disease.

The condition is uncommon in most cats. However, amyloidosis occurs more often in the Abyssinian as well as a handful of other breeds, including Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese, Devon Rex, and Oriental Shorthairs. Most commonly, the disease affects the kidneys. 

Symptoms of amyloidosis in cats can include:

Pyruvate Kinase (PK) Deficiency

Pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency is caused by a deficiency in the pyruvate kinase enzyme, which is essential for the metabolism of red blood cells. This deficiency can lead to anemia and other blood-related problems. Before purchasing your Abyssinian kitten from a reputable breeder, ask if their breeding parents have been genetically tested for PK deficiency. 

Signs of PK deficiency in cats include: 

  • Weakness

  • Muscle wasting

  • Jaundice (rare)

  • Pale mucous membranes

  • Elevated heart rate (tachycardia)

  • Inability to perform routine exercises

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a genetic eye condition that causes blindness in cats. Abyssinian cats are prone to a type of PRA called photoreceptor dysplasia. This condition occurs when photoreceptor cells don’t develop properly in early kittenhood. Aby kittens with photoreceptor dysplasia typically develop blindness within a few months of birth. Blindness in cats with PRA is irreversible.

Blind kittens can live full lives with extra help from their pet parents. Nonetheless, it’s important to ask your breeder if either parent is a carrier for PRA. Cats carrying the gene for PRA should not be bred.

What To Feed an Abyssinian

Feeding a commercial cat food that meets the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is the best way to ensure your Aby eats a complete and balanced diet. 

The food should match your cat’s life stage: kitten, adult, or senior.

  • Abyssinian kittens require “growth” or “all life stages” foods.

  • Adult cats can eat “all life stages” or “adult maintenance” cat food.

  • Older cats may benefit from foods labeled as “senior diets.” 

How To Feed an Abyssinian 

All cats are clever, but Abyssinians stand out as one of the smartest cat breeds. One way to exercise their problem-solving skills is by using a puzzle feeder. Most cats do best with two (for adults) to three (for kittens) measured feedings per day.

How Much Should You Feed an Abyssinian?

The recommended caloric intake for your cat depends on their age, health, activity level, and ideal weight. The best way to determine how much to feed your Aby is to talk with your veterinarian. You can also consult the guide on the back of your cat food bag or can for feeding recommendations.

Nutritional Tips for Abyssinians

A complete and balanced commercial cat food diet will provide all the nutrients your cat needs. If your cat develops health conditions or requires joint support as they age, your veterinarian may recommend adding supplements to their diet.

Behavior and Training Tips for Abyssinians

Abyssinian Personality and Temperament

The stunning Abyssinian could easily steal the spotlight at any cat show, but they prefer independent pursuits around the house. Being handled isn’t their forte, and house rules don’t always seem to apply to them.

True to their independent streak, they’ll curl up in your lap or perch on your shoulder when you least expect it. The one thing you can be sure of is that participating in every aspect of your life is an Abyssinian’s top priority.

Abyssinian Behavior 

The Abyssinian is an active cat who tends to get plenty of exercise making games for themselves. However, indoor cats tend to be less active than other cats, so they’ll appreciate at least one interactive play session a day. Abys also require plenty of cat furniture to climb, scratch, and lounge on.

Abyssinians are outgoing and social cats who get along well with humans and other pets, making them ideal companions for multi-pet households. Because they typically don’t enjoy being held or picked up, it’s important to teach kids how to safely interact with Abys

Abyssinian Training 

The Abyssinian’s curious nature, love of games, and high intelligence make them eager participants in training, including walking on a leash and harness. Like all cats and dogs, Abyssinian cats learn best with positive reinforcement methods. 

Fun Activities for Abyssinians 

Abyssinian Grooming Guide

Abyssinian coat colors include reddish-brown, cinnamon, chocolate, blue, fawn, and lilac, and all have black or silver ticking. Their short, silky fur is relatively easy to maintain. 

Skin Care

Abyssinians typically don’t have sensitive skin, so they don’t require a special skincare routine. However, many Abyssinians love water, so you may find they want to join you in the tub.

Coat Care

Abyssinians are low-shedding cats, but they still enjoy a weekly brushing session to bond with their pet parents and keep their fur healthy. 

Eye Care

Check your cat’s eyes daily for any unusual discharge, redness, or irritation. These are common signs of eye problems in cats. If you notice any of them, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian. 

Ear Care

Any redness, odor, and/or debris in your cat’s ears could be signs of an ear infection or parasites. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian. 

Considerations for Pet Parents

Abyssinian cats are a popular breed, and for good reasons. Aside from their good looks, they are one of the friendliest cat breeds. They also have an independent streak that makes them a good fit for pet parents wanting a companion who, at times, can entertain themselves.

Abyssinians are highly intelligent, so it’s important to provide them with ample mental and physical exercise to keep them happy. Like all cats, proper nutrition, feeding routines, and grooming are essential for maintaining an Abyssinian’s well-being. Abyssinians can get along well with other pets and children, with proper introductions and handling education.

Abyssinian FAQs

Are Abyssinians rare?

Abyssinian cats are not difficult to find when purchasing from a reputable breeder. As with most purebred cats, it’s uncommon to find Abyssinians for adoption, though it’s not unheard of. 

How much do Abyssinian cats cost?

You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to $2,800 for an Abyssinian kitten from a reputable breeder. Keep in mind that this is just the upfront cost, and you will also need to budget for routine veterinary care, emergency visits, food, toys, bedding, and pet sitting.

What colors are Abyssinian cats?

Abyssinian cats come in a handful of colors, but they all have an agouti coat (meaning each hair has multiple bands of color). The most common Abyssinian color is ruddy, which is a warm, reddish-brown base with black ticking. They can also have a silver base with dark ticking, giving their fur a sparkling appearance. Other fur colors include cinnamon, chocolate, blue, fawn, and lilac. 

Featured Image: Getty/anobis


Janelle Leeson

WRITTEN BY

Janelle Leeson

Freelance Writer


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