History Abyssinian

 
History  Abyssinian

Although the Abyssinian is one of the oldest known breeds there continues to be speculation and controversy concerning its history …
The name Abyssinian refers to Ethiopia, but most of the stories about the origins of Abyssinians refer to Egypt. Genetic research suggests the breed originated near the coast of the Indian Ocean, where colonists may have purchased animals from wild animal traders. The breed was developed in Egypt. 
In appearance, Abyssinians resemble the paintings and sculptures of ancient Egyptian cats which portray an elegant feline with a muscular body beautiful arched neck, large ears and almond shaped eyes.
The Abyssinian is sometimes believed to have originated from one Egyptian female kitten named Zula, who was taken from a port in Alexandria by a British soldier and brought to England. This theory is not established because there is no solid link between Zula and the cat first listed as an Abyssinian .
The source of the name is not because Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia, is thought to be the original home of these cats, but because the first "Abyssinians" exhibited in shows in England were reported to have been imported from that country. The first mention is in the Harper's Weekly (January 27, 1872 issue) where the 3rd prize in the December, 1871 Crystal Palace show was taken by the Abyssinian Cat ("captured in the late Abyssinian War"). This article is accompanied by an illustration of the Abyssinian Cat. In the British book, by Gordon Stables, Cats, Their Points, and Characteristics... published in 1874 there is also mention of an Abyssinian.
British troops left Abyssinia in May 1868, so that may have been the time when cats with ticked coats first entered England.
Many sources repeat the story that the Abyssinian breed is a few thousand years old and comes from Ancient Egypt, as the cats resemble those in ancient paintings. There are also stories that wild Abyssinians live in parts of North Africa today .
Recent studies by geneticists show that the most convincing origin of the Abyssinian breed is the coast of the Indian Ocean and parts of Southeast Asia. In fact, the earliest identifiable Abyssinian is a taxidermal exhibit still residing in the Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland.
Although the Abyssinian as a breed was refined in England, its introduction to that country and others may have been the result of colonists and merchants stopping in Calcutta, the major port for the Indian Ocean.
Coat types and genetic makeup
The coat is medium-length, dense, and silky to the touch. The Abyssinian, and a similar long-hair breed called the Somali, have coats that are unusual enough to catch attention. These felines owe their special coat to one dominant mutant gene known as Ta. Each hair has a base color with three or four darker-colored bands; the hair is the lighter color at the root, and the darker "ticking" color at the tip. This ticking is found only in the Somali, Abyssinian and Singapura.
The first cat to have its entire genome published was an Abyssinian named Cinnamon.
The original Abyssinian coat colour is known as 'Usual' in the United Kingdom and as 'Ruddy' elsewhere. The coat has a warm reddish-brown base, with black ticking. The feet and the backs of the hind legs are always black.
Over the years, various other colours have been developed from this original form, but the markings on the coat have remained the same. The back of the hind legs and the pads of the paws are always darker than the rest of the coat. A popular colour is Sorrel, which has a cinnamon (yellowish-brown) base, with chocolate brown ticking, paw pads and backs of the legs. Blue Abyssinians , which have become increasingly popular in recent years, have a light beige base colour with blue ticking, paw pads and backs of the legs. The relatively rare Fawn Abyssinians have a light-cream base colour, with darker cream ticking and warm dark cream pads and backs of the legs.
Silver Abyssinians are a separate group among the breed. Although this colour has been in existence for decades, it is not recognised by the Cat Fanciers' Association, the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats. In Silvers, the undercoat is always a pure silvery white. The markings include black, blue, warm dark cream and cinnamon. Purely Silver Abyssinians are difficult to breed because they sometimes have undesirable tan patches in the coat. In addition to this, any spots in the coat show up more clearly on a silver coat.
Rare colours include the Tortoiseshell, Red, Cream, Chocolate and Lilac, which are all bred on a small scale in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Abyssinian kittens are born with dark coats that gradually lighten as they mature. It usually takes several months for the final coat colour to be established.

4 Colours recognized, of equal show status (CFA)

RUDDY: coat ruddy brown (burnt-sienna), ticked with various shades of darker brown or black; the extreme outer tip to be the darkest, with orange-brown undercoat. Tail tipped with black. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the main color. Nose leather: tile red. Paw pads: black or brown, with black between toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.

RED: coat rich, warm glowing red, ticked with chocolate-brown, the extreme outer tip to be dark, with red undercoat. Tail tipped with chocolate-brown. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the main color. Nose leather: rosy pink. Paw pads: pink, with chocolate-brown between toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.

BLUE: coat warm beige, ticked with various shades of slate blue, the extreme outer tip to be the darkest, with blush beige undercoat. Tail tipped with slate blue. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the main color. Nose leather: old rose. Paw pads: mauve, with slate blue between toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.

FAWN: coat warm rose-beige, ticked with light cocoa brown, the extreme outer tip to be the darkest, with blush beige undercoat. Tail tipped with light cocoa brown. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the main color. Nose leather: salmon. Paw pads: pink with light cocoa brown between the toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.
Temperament
Abyssinians are extroverted, extremely active, playful, willful and intelligent. They are arguably the most active breed of cats. They are usually not "lap cats", being too preoccupied with exploring and playing . They are popular among breeders and owners, and can be very successful show cats. Not all Abyssinians are shown, however, because the color and type standards are very exacting, and because some are shy towards strangers and timid in public. They have quiet, engaging voices.
"Abys", as they are affectionately referred to by their fans, need a great deal of interaction with the family to keep them happy and can get depressed without daily activity and attention. They generally get along well with other cats, although they need their space and the females can sometimes be irritable around other cats. Abyssinians are known for their curiosity and enjoy exploring their surroundings, including heights. They are sensible cats that do not take unnecessary risks. As one might expect from such an intelligent and physically capable breed, Abyssinians are known to be formidable hunters. They adore toys and can play for hours with a favorite ball. Some play fetch.

 

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