Somali Cat

History

DateEvent
1950Long Haired Abyssinians began to appear naturally within the Abyssinian breeding programme.
1960sBreeders’ attitudes changed towards the long-haired Abyssinian and they started to breed them deliberately
1963Canadian breeder Mary Mailing enters a Somali cat in a cat show. Judge Ken McGill asked her for one of her cats to breed from and a Somali of his, May-Ling Titsuta was the first official Somali. Don Richings used McGills stock and bred Somalis working with Evelyn Mague (mentioned in the introduction). This led to acceptance of the breed in the late 1970s.
1965Somali Cat shown in Australia
late
1970s
Accepted for Championship status (full) in major North American associations
1980sSomalis appear in Europe
1991GCCF grant Championship Status (full) to the Somali and worldwide recognition7 established.
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Somali-cat

Photo – Somali Kittens © copyright Helmi Flick

Kittens may be darker and less warm in color than when adult

Appearance and Character

Helmi Flick’s photographs say all you need to know.

Here’s the character in bullet form:

  • alert, intelligent and keen
  • even tempered
  • active, athletic and playful requiring space
  • apparently calmer and less active than the Abyssinian
  • quiet with a soft voice
  • like to lick the hair of their human companion
  • welcomes companionship
Somali Cat
Photo of Mana ©copyright Helmi Flick

Here’s the appearance in words and bullet form:

  • all Somalis have dark rimmed eyes surrounded by spectacles (light hair). There are tabby markings on the cheeks and forehead7.
  • the Somali cat appears to walk on tiptoes and has an arched back.
  • the coat as can be seen is “ticked”. This is one of the defining features of the Somali cat. Ticking means that the coat has that broken salt and pepper appearance. This is due to the Agouti gene (A) causing banding on the hair, which also produces the tabby cat in tandem with the Tabby gene (T). The color of the ticking is naturally dependent on the color of the cat. For example, for a ruddy cat the ticking is black (see Siennaman at the top of the page).
  • the Somali ticking has ten to twelve bands while the Abyssinian ticking has two to three bands.
  • magnificent plumed tail due to the long haired gene
  • “M” on the forehead (a tabby cat trait)
  • 4 colors, ruddy (most popular), red, blue and fawn are accepted by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). Ruddy is an orange brown color and ticked with black, the undersides of the torso and legs are an even ruddy colour without ticking.
  • TICA limits colours to Tabby and Silver/Smoke divisions and “eumelanistic colors and agouti pattern only”.  Eumelanistic means black-based. Dense black based colours are chocolate and cinamon and dilute black based colours are blue, lilac and fawn. Agouti pattern means ticked (banded hairs producing ticked effect) and the classic markings of the Somali.
  • Medium build
  • Medium weight at 10-12 lbs for males (see cat breed size/weights)
  • gold or green eyes
  • white under chins and around mouths but a white locket, groin spot or any white on the body other than upper throat, chin or nostrils results in disqualification for a Somali cat in competition.

Somali

Photo of Somali cat as a killer © lara68 under creative commons

Some breeders have mated the Somali cat with a black domestic shorthair cat to produce black Somalis. These cats are the same as the Somali except for the coat color and the ticking is hardly visible, apparently.

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