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Somali Cat Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The Somali cat breed is interesting because it’s a long-haired version of an Abyssinian cat. If you ask us here at IndulgeYourPet, it is pretty awesome because first, we’re a bit of a fan of any long-haired cat. And second, we’re BIG fans of the Abyssinian cat breed, so this is the best of both worlds!

But just because…

We are huge fans of the Somali cat breed, but that doesn’t mean this “type” cat will be “right” for you. That’s why, in this article, we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it might be like to own a Somali cat so that if you ever get a chance to own one, you’ll know for sure if it’s a good idea. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Somali Cat Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  United States of America

Size:  Medium

Weight:  8 to 10 pounds

Eyes:  Almond-shaped (green or gold)

Head Shape:  Rounded, wedge shape

Lifespan: 9 to 15 years

Origin of the Somali Cat

As we stated before, because the Somali cat breed is essentially a long-haired version of an Abyssinian cat, for us to understand where the Somali cat comes from, we first need to know where the Abyssinian cat originates from. This is where things can get a bit “dicey” because this topic will cause quite a few “cat fights” among any cat enthusiasts simply because there are so many theories out there. Most haven’t been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, leaving many to wonder what’s factual and fiction.

That said, however…

Most folks seem to agree that the Abyssinian Cat breed originated from the ancient lands of Abyssinia, which is now modern-day Ethiopia, which is why they are known today as the Abyssinian cat breed. However, a few reports and studies suggest that the first members of the species may have dwelled along the coast of the Indian Ocean and a few areas of Southeast Asia.

There are even others…

Who claims that the Abyssinian cat breed was first bred in the United States in 1935. This latter idea, however, is not one that we here at IndulgeYourPet subscribe to even though we, as Americans, would love to be able to take credit for being the origin country of this magnificent cat. We tend to believe that this is where folks confuse the Abyssinian cat breed that has been around for hundreds of years and the Somali breed, which is relatively “new” to the scene.

You see…

While the true origin of the Abyssinian cat breed remains somewhat of a mystery, folks are pretty sure where the first Somali cat came from. They even know her name:

“Raby Chuffa of Selene”

Raby Chuffa of Slene was born in America in 1953, and while one knows where the gene that makes a Somali cat look like the long-haired version of an Abyssinian came from, they know that Raby was the first to exhibit this trait.

The strange thing is…

When breeders first saw these long-haired Abyssinian kittens, they weren’t impressed and tried to avoid creating them. That is until one breeder, Evelyn Mague, wasn’t appalled by these creatures and began to breed them. Eventually, she found another breeder, Don Riching. Together, they set to breed these long-haired Abyssinian cats, which they chose to name Somali as an acknowledgment of that country’s geographic status as the next-door neighbor to Ethiopia (formerly known as Abyssinia).”  Then, in 1979, the Somali cats were “officially” recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association.

Physical Characteristics

The Somali cats are best known for their bushy tails. They’re sometimes called “fox cats” because of this feature. That and their large almond-shaped eyes, which can be gold or green, and large pointed ears—another reason they’re known as the “fox cat.”  These medium-large cat has a soft coat because their hairs are fine in texture. They feel like silk. And while most Somali cats will tend to be red, don’t be surprised if your breeder offers you a few other options, including:

  • Blue,
  • Ruddy,
  • Or Fawn.

Or perhaps a mixture of one or two because the Somali coat is a “ticked coat,” meaning that their fur will have both light and dark colors, though all of the same color. Another unique feature of the Somali cat is that they seem to be walking on their tiptoes. A look that is certainly accentuated by their lean, muscular body and round wedge-shaped head.

Personality and Temperament

The Somali cat is one of the most playful cats out there. They’re filled with endless energy and curiosity. Expect to find this cat constantly jumping, climbing, and running to get a look at the animals and people walking outside. This means that you’ll want to get them lots of toys to play with because they’ll love all of them. They’re fast learners and learn the tricks you teach them. If you want them to join you on your daily walks, you can teach them to walk on a leash, and they’ll be excited about the new adventure.


They’re such curious cats; they’re very adaptable. They’re great with new environments because they bring new opportunities to explore different things. You’ll also want to remember that these guys love heights, so you’ll find them perched on your refrigerator, bookshelf, or at the highest point in your home. If you have fragile things on shelves, you don’t have to worry because they’re graceful and won’t push down things just because they can. (Okay, sometimes they will, but not always!)


They’re going to want your attention all the time. They love being the one thing to focus on, and if you’re scrolling away on your phone, don’t be surprised when they tap your hand for attention. This is why we’ll often recommend these cats to those with small children around the house because often it will take a small army of children to wear your Somali out, and because they’re great with kids, these guys can often make great babysitters/entertainers!

Potential Health Issues

The most common health issue is called pyruvate kinase deficiency. This is a hereditary disease that runs among Abyssinians, too. The pyruvate kinase (PK) is a regulatory enzyme that metabolizes sugar. If a cat lacks this enzyme, it can develop intermittent anemia.   This can appear in cats anywhere from between 6 months and 12 years. There is a DNA test that allows you to see whether or not a cat has PK deficiency. Having your Somali tested is good because not all cats show signs. These signs include depression, pale gums, lethargy, and a lack of appetite.

This cat can also have renal amyloidosis, which can lead to blindness.

Some diseases are genetic, and these diseases include:

  • periodontal disease,
  • hyperesthesia syndrome,
  • and patellar luxation.

And while…

Indeed, these diseases are not necessarily life-threatening. Most, if not all, can become quite expensive to treat, particularly if they recur. This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet always advise any new pet owner to take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for their new loved one. If they ever become sick or injured in the future, you won’t be on the “hook” for 100% of the cost of treatment.

For more information on who we “feel” currently offers some of the “best” pet insurance policies on the market, check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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