Somali cats are also known as long haired Abyssinians or fox tails due to their long bushy tails. Somali cats are an interesting and distinctive breed. It is thought that they may first have appeared as a result of natural mutation in Abyssinia but it has also been argued that they originated in England at around 1900 when English breeders used long haired cats to breed with Abyssinian cats.
Long haired breeds may have been mixed with Abyssinian cats in order to carry on the breeding when stock was low after the world wars, but it was not until the sixties that long haired Abyssinians became popular and were bred on purpose for shows and championships. By the end of the seventies Somali cats where accepted in all North American championships, but the cat was less popular in Europe and it was not until 1991 that the British Cat association allowed the Somali to compete in Great Britain.
A male Abyssinian named Raby Chuffa who came to Britain from the united states in 1953 is considered the father of the breed in Europe. Since then many long haired Abyssinians appeared in Britain. This was because of the fact that whenever two Abyssinian's with recessive long haired genes where bread a long haired kitten was possible. These long haired cats were given away for use as pets and not considered competition material. Some breeders began to nurture the long haired cats while others wanted to discourage the use of such cats for competion and saw them as polluting the Abyssinian breed. A group of breeders decided to rename the cat so that it would be more acceptable as its own breed and decided on the name Somali. The reason this name was chosen was because Somalia is the country next to Ethiopia � which used to be called Abyssinia . Somali clubs which brought enthusiasts together helped the popularity of the cat to grow in America and Europe and now the breed has full championship status.
The most notable thing about the Somali's appearance is its beautiful fluffy coat and bushy tail. Despite being called 'long haired' the coat is actually a medium length over most of the body except the shoulders where it is often shorter. The tail is long and thick and is very similar to that of a fox in texture pattern and colouring. One of the key features of the Somali's coat is ticking. Ticking is the name given to the effect of different bands of colour in hairs produced by the pigment strength varying as the hair grows. This creates a beautiful textured effect, with the overall colour of the coat changing subtlety as the hair moves in different directions. This is a feature common to the tabby variety of cat but unlike tabby cats, a show standard Somali will have no stripes. Pet quality cats may have some striping on the legs tail and neck.
Somali Character and Temperament
Somali's are one of the most affectionate breeds and love to be around their owners and join in whatever is going on. However they often prefer to be near you than sat on your lap being stoked. These highly intelligent cats don't stay still for long and are always looking for the next toy to play with or nook to explore. They are known to be determined cats and if there is something they want they will get it, but in the nicest possible way. They are fairly quiet and chirrup to let you know when its feeding time. When they are feeling OK their food bowl is emptied quickly so you know there's something wrong if their food stays uneaten for too long. These cats are freedom loving and need plenty of room to run and explore but despite this they do very well if keped indoors and this is often advantageous to their safety.
Average Litter Size
3-4 kittens per litter
Somali cats like Abyssinian are know to have dental problems which has been made worse by inbreed. Cats often have to have their adult teeth removed. A Somali will usually stop eating if it is experiencing problems with its teeth so have them checked out if you think something is wrong. The are also susceptible to gingivitis, tooth decay and the renal disease amyloidosis.