Somali Cat Breed Information

Learn all about Somali Cats, read about the Somali Breed information, find out about the Somali Breed Standard, Somali behavior and lots more about Somalis.

Somali Cat Breed Introduction

The Somali cat breed is a longhair offshoot of the Abyssinian cat breed.

Somali Behavior/Personality

Source: Wikipedia (March 2006)

While this may not qualify as a behavior per se, it is worth noting that Somalis are fairly unique in how they shed fur. They shed or "blow" a large amount of fur once or twice a year rather than day by day.

Somali Breed Standard/Physical Description

Here are some facts on the Somali breed based on information in Wikipedia, March 2006 and the Cat Fanciers' Association breed standard.

  • Head: wedge-shaped but slightly rounded,
  • Ears: large, pointed, broad
  • Eyes: large; dark-rimmed, as with Abyssinians
  • Body: medium-long
  • Legs: in proportion to body
  • Paws: oval-shaped with five in front and four in back
  • Tail: characteristically bushy tail
  • Coat: longhair and traditionally, red or "ruddy" colored; however, other color varieties have also been developed; tabby patterns not allowed

Somali History

Source: "The Somali Cat: 30 Years and Going Strong!" by Kathy Black and Wikipedia (March 2006)

The origins of the Somali breed are fairly straightforward. Like so many other breeds, the Somali breed is a naturally-occurring offshoot of an existing breed, in this case, the Abyssinian. The Abyssinian is a shorthair breed, yet litters would often have a longhair cat which did not fit the breed standard. As with some other offshoot breeds, breeders eventually tried to create a new breed from the nonconforming kittens.

The formal beginning of the Abyssinian breed occurred in the 1960s in the United States. Cat breeder Evelyn Mague pushed for the longhaired cats to be recognized as a new breed, and was the one to choose the name Somali, for Somalia, the next country over from Abyssinia. At first the new breed was ridiculed by Abyssinian breeders, but by 1979 the breed was recognized by the Cat Fancier's Association.

Why did a shorthair breed like the Abyssinian ever come to carry a longhair gene, even a recessive one? There is a good deal of speculation. It may be that the gene was introduced when the breed was revived just after WWII. At that time, there may have been as few as twelve Abyssinians. Strict breeding among purebreds was relaxed as cats with unknown fathers were allowed into the fold.

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