Somali Cat

somali cat
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Somali Cat Photo of Siennaman ©copyright Helmi Flick

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Introduction

The Somali is one of the most popular newer breeds. I think that you’ll agree that this is a very handsome cat and one that looks a little familiar. At first sight Siennaman (above) looks a bit like an Abyssinian with a gorgeous tail, which is not quite the case. Siennaman is a long-haired Aby or a Somali Cat. I like the look of this cat because I like foxes and there is a distinct look of the fox about the cat breed.

This cat breed appeared naturally in Abyssinian breeding programmes in the 1950s (60 years ago as at 2010). For reference purposes, in the United Kingdom, the Abyssinian cat has been known “for well over 100 years”. On that basis it is not unreasonable to suggest that long haired Abyssinians have been appearing in litters since the Abyssinian cats were first bred and registered in the 1930s in Britain. World War II had an impact on all purebred cats and in building up the Abyssinian after the war, the recessive longhair gene may have been introduced although this is likely to have happened much earlier or it is due to a genetic mutation.

Some breeding lines of Abyssinians carry the recessive long haired gene. Within these lines Somali cats will be produced if two cats carrying this gene are mated. The litter will have one Somali and three Abyssinians or in that proportion.


Somali cat CHASE
Somali cat CHASE

Chase (above) is a Ruddy or “Usual” Somali cat. This was one of the first colours to be accepted for showing. The other was sorrel. The base coat is a deep “red-brown shade of apricot”1 and the ticking is black. This foxy face combined with this fox like coat have earned the Somali the nickname of “fox cats”. I can well remember Chase being photographed by Helmi in Oklahoma. He looked an outstanding cat. He caught the eye. He certainly caught my eye. He also behaved confidently in front of the camera as this photograph demonstrates.


For a long time Somali cats were considered a mistake and were unwanted by cat breeders. They were given away until the late 1960s when Evelyn Mague, the president of a private cat shelter at the time liked the unwanted kittens and decided to start a new breed against the wishes of many Abyssinian breeders. The breed was accepted for championship competition in 1979.

Evelyn’s choice of name is sensible as it is the more modern version of the name Abyssinian; Abyssinia now being called Somalia.

The Somali has the same personality as the Abyssinian. The Somali is then a very intelligent and independent cat that likes exercise and space. It is said that they only accept confinement when introduced to that kind of like when young. They are also known for their trill greeting and affectionate behavior.

Unlike most long haired cats Somalis shed very little excess hair. They are said to shed hair in one go every 6 or 12 months and in the summer appearing almost shorthaired, rather than constantly like a Persian (I am not sure about that). Grooming demands are therefore low and the coat does not mat. Once a day combing/brushing will suffice.

somali cat

Photo of Rebel ©copyright Helmi Flick

This cat breed arrived accidentally during the Abyssinian breeding programme. After a period of about ten or more years it was decided to turn an accident into a predictable event and deliberate breeding began.

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