HomeCat BreedsAbyssinian CatIs the Abyssinian cat descended from Indian jungle cat hybrids?

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Is the Abyssinian cat descended from Indian jungle cat hybrids? — 3 Comments

  1. The Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland has a stuffed Abyssinian-type cat that pre-dates Zula (who is usually credited as being the first Aby). It was purchased between 1834-1836 and labelled as an Indian cat. H.C. Brooke (a breeder and collector of many cat and dog breeds) later described an Indian cat, allegedly from Bombay, and illustrations of the Indian cat in Frances Simpson’s “Book of the Cat” and in other books show a sandy coloured ticked cat very similar to an Abyssinian. Sandy, ticked domestic cats from Sri Lanka are now being bred as Celonese. It is possible that Zula came from India where the British had a strong presence at the time.

    While the Indian cat influence appears to be domestic cats rather than wild cats, wild blood was introduced to the breed early on.

    Champion Southampton Red Rust, Claude Alexander’s exceptional Abyssinian was apparently mated to an “Imported African Wild Cat” (this would be F lybica) and the female offspring, Goldtick, was registered as an Abyssinian. Goldtick was mated to a red self (solid red) called Ras Brouke (owned by Mr HC Brooke in the 1920s) and produced Tim the Harvester, registered as a Ruddy (Usual) Abyssinian. Tim the Harvester was a very influential sire both in the UK and USA and found many breeding lines.

    • Thanks a lot Sarah. You are a walking encyclopaedia of the cat 😉 Very useful information.

      I had read about the cat in Holland. We know that domestic cat sized wild cats can mate freely with domestic cats. The Scottish wildcat is a tragic example. The African wildcat also mates with domestic cats so the jungle cat as a distant ancestor of the Abyssinian seems plausible.

      • The origin of the “chaus contributed to early domestic cats” myth was Roger Tabor a couple of decades ago. He found some F chaus mummies among a cat mummy site in Egypt and hypothesised that the interbred in temples. Later DNA testing of domestic cats (excluding the Chausie of course) found no genetic markers derived from F chaus. The mummies from the Egyptian site also showed no intermediates between F s catus/F s lybica and F chaus. The Egyptians simply liked to mummify wild animals as well as domestic ones.

        So F chaus didn’t contribute to the ancestry of domestic breeds (apart from modern hybrid breeds) otherwise it would have left genetic markers. The ticked tabby mutation is common in SE Asia (it comes from F s lybica). When F chaus was later deliberately hybridised it also introduced new colours such as “grizzle”, which haven’t been seen in the Abyssinian breed.

        Indian domestic cats interbreed freely with F s ornata, the Asiatic Wildcat (aka Indian Desert Cat) – so that’s where wild blood would have come from.

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