What do Abyssinian cats look like?

The Abyssinian cat is an athletic looking companion animal. People who breed Abyssinian cats i.e. those in the cat fancy, might describe the cat’s body as “foreign” which means slightly slender. This is descriptive of an athletic, lively, hardened and muscular cat which shows eager activity and a lively interest in things that are going on. Some people describe the body as “lithe” and graceful. This is an elegant looking cat and not bred to extreme so the body conformation falls between cobby and svelte. The cat should look balanced, in harmony and the various elements of the cat in proportion to each other.

What does the Abyssinian cat look like?
What does the Abyssinian cat look like? Photos: Helmi Flick with her permission. The bottom cat is: RW QGC Alexy Braeside Candytuft of Aksum. The kittens in the middle: three Blue Aby and three Ruddy Aby kittens. Top picture: Ruddy Abyssinian, “Nobgoblin”.
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That’s the overall feel of the way the cat looks but of course you have to also mention the coat. The classic Abyssinian cat coat is described as “ruddy”. This coat is ruddy brown otherwise described as “burnt sienna”. It is also called “ticked”. This is a form of tabby coat without the big dark brown/black markings you normally see on a tabby cat. There are various shades of dark brown or black with the extreme outer tip to be the darkest and the undercoat being orange-brown. The tail is tipped with black.

Although the ruddy coat is the classic version of this cat breed you will find many other colours such as blue, fawn, red, lilac and cream (this list is not comprehensive). The face is quite a standard looking domestic cat face. But perhaps a bit more angular than normal and the ears are a bit bigger than you normally see on a random read cat. The breeders would describe the head as a “modified, slightly rounded wedge”. The muzzle is a standard muzzle and it is neither sharply pointed or square.

100 Years of Abyssinian Cat Breeding
100 Years of Abyssinian Cat Breeding. The appearance has changed substantially over 100 years of selective breeding. Top photo copyright Helmi Flick.

The eyes are almond-shaped, large, brilliant and expressive. They are not round and neither are they oriental in appearance.

In competition, a kinked or abnormal tail would disqualify the cat as would a white locket (a small white patch of hair on the chest). Also white fur anywhere than on the chin, upper throat area and nostril will also disqualify the cat. This is not a comprehensive list of disqualify aspects.

The tail should be fairly long and tapering and the coat should feel soft and silky with a fine texture but dense and resilient to the touch. In general terms, this is a very standard looking domestic cat but a bit slender and more athletic than normal with a beautiful rusty-yellow coat to use layman’s language and large ears.

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