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Abyssinian Cat Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

abyssinian cat reating outdoor

Abyssinian Cat Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

Breed Overview


12 – 16 inches


6 – 13 pounds


9 – 15 years


Red, cinnamon, blue, fawn

Suitable for:

Active families with older children, singles around the home


Curious, playful, intelligent

The Abyssinian cat, or the Aby, is unique compared to many other fuzzy felines commonly kept as pets. These lovely creatures combine most of the best traits in a cat to make one that is highly active, playful, wickedly smart, and impressively athletic.

Combining all this with their tendency to be silly and social, they make an excellent pet if you frequently have people coming in and out of your home, as many other cats wouldn’t appreciate these invasions. They look practically Egyptian with their wedge-like faces and love to be adored like they would have been in those ancient times.

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Abyssinian Characteristics

Abyssinian kitten
Image Credit: tsapenkodg, Pixabay
A high-energy cat needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep healthy and happy, while a low-energy cat needs minimal physical activity, but still needs mental stimulation. When choosing a cat, It’s important to ensure their energy levels match your lifestyle.
Cats that are easy-to-train are more willing and skilled at quickly learning prompts and actions with minimal training. Harder-to-train cats are usually more stubborn or aloof and require a bit more patience and practice.
Certain cat breeds are more prone to various genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat in those breeds will have these issues, but they do have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Due to their size or potential genetic health issues of a specific breed, some cats have shorter lifespans than others. Proper nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, and hygiene also play an important role in your cat’s lifespan and quality of life.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other cats and animals. Cats that are more social have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches or jump on laps for cuddles, while cats that are less social shy away, hide, are more cautious, and even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed or gender, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to many different situations.

3 Little-Known Facts About an Abyssinian

1. The name of the Abyssinian is deceiving since they do not come from Ethiopia.

Before Ethiopia was known as such, it was called Abyssinia. Ethiopia’s name means “burnt faces” in Greek and was the new name given to the country by the Greeks when the Empress attempted to convert most of the realm to Christianity. Ethiopia was the chosen Christian name for the country. It has ranged back and forth between the terms in a variety of languages since then.

One would think that a cat with the name “Abyssinian” would originate from this region of the world. However, these beautiful kitties are most likely from the coastal area, along the Indian Ocean, and into sections in Southeast Asia.

There is a theory that their predominant ancestor, Zulu, was brought to Great Britain after a military expedition to Abyssinia. However, this is only one of many theories and is only accepted by part of the research community.

One of the most significant reasons these cats were given such a regionally specific name is that their origins were largely contested as they began to spread through the world. Their wedge-shaped faces mirror those depicted in ancient Egyptian artwork, and that distinction was what got them dubbed with the regional moniker. It has only been more recently that researchers have discovered that they likely have nothing to do with these ancient cats besides sharing the shape of their faces.

2. Banding in their coats gives the color unusual depth.

The coloring on these cats gives each of them unique coloration that sets them apart from many other species and even from other individuals in the breed. Interestingly, most of the fur in their coat has individual bands of color. Each hair gives the coat a look of increased depth. Looking at them in various lights can make it challenging to determine exactly what color they predominantly are.

Their bodies practically look like a piece of formal art. Beyond the shading on each hair, they also have a coloring that makes the coat look darker as it moves up to their spine. It softens along their body and gets lighter under their neck and inside their legs.

3. Abyssinians have such an inquisitive nature that it is relatively easy to teach them tricks.

Abyssinian cats have unique coats with many colors on each hair. They also have a personality that makes them an interesting breed compared to the traits typically associated with other cat breeds.

The Aby is forever curious and incredibly athletic. These cats are not relaxed lap cats that you can expect to find lazing around the house when you get through the door. They are always running around, jumping on things, and sticking their noses where they do not belong.

These cats’ inquisitive nature makes it easy to teach them tricks and new lessons. They can even be taught to walk on a leash so they have an excuse to get outside and explore new territories. This will give them a chance for mental exercise and take some of their focus off the rest of the house.

It is not recommended to let these cats out to explore by themselves. They are not a typical domesticated breed and are often stolen when left alone and unmonitored.

abyssinian cat resting in carpet
Image Credit: tsapenkodg, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Abyssinian Cats

Abyssinians are a convenient cat to have around because they are so social. They are also extremely active, and their inquisitiveness means that they can keep themselves occupied for many hours with whatever toys and interactive activities they can find.

The Aby is an overall loving and affectionate cat that might not want to cuddle for hours but will love any time that you spend with them. The Aby is a highly intelligent cat looking to expand their mind and experiences. They can learn more tricks than a typical cat would be willing to and can even learn to walk on a leash.

Are These Cats Good for Families?

Abyssinians are often excellent choices for families. They are friendly and enjoy having large houses full of people who want to play with them. They don’t tolerate rough handling well, so they are often a better choice for families with older children. If you have young kids, teach them how to pick up or play with the cat appropriately. Although they are athletic and healthy, they are also daintier than other, larger breeds and can get hurt.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

These cats enjoy having other people around and will often enjoy the company of other animals, dogs and cats included. If your Aby hasn’t had the opportunity to meet many different animals in their lives, then introduce them slowly to create a higher likelihood that they will get along.

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Things to Know When Owning an Abyssinian Cat

Food & Diet Requirements

This medium-sized cat has a medium-sized diet. They need food that is high in protein to support an active lifestyle. Since they do not have a naturally robust physique, they don’t struggle with weight gain as much as many breeds do, but their consumption and exercise should still be managed.


These cats are normally quite adept at keeping themselves in shape because they have such a proclivity for around-the-house activity. If you want to help them stay in shape and active, get them a perch or a cat tree. They will love to climb on top of it, watch from above, and then practically fly off of it. The Aby is known for their love of heights.

Another unique way to get these cats to exercise is to take them out for walks. Train them to walk on a leash so they won’t run off, and they will appreciate you for it. It will satisfy their need for activity and allow them to explore and broaden their horizons.

ruddy abyssinian cat
Image Credit: Anton Akhmatov, Shutterstock


The Abyssinian can be trained to do a wider variety of tricks than a typical cat would be willing to learn. It is fun to work their brain by training them to perform with their favorite treats.

Grooming ✂️

Abys are not hypoallergenic animals. They look as though they have walked straight out of the jungle, having the ticked coat patterns typical of wildcats, like cougars. Their coat is not extremely thick, though, so brushing through it a couple of times each week should be enough to reduce the amount of hair shed around the home.

Beyond keeping them brushed, keep the area around their eyes free from any gunk. Stroke them down gently with damp leather if you want them to have a polished and professional look. Doing so brings out a gleam in their coat and makes them look sleeker than ever.

The Aby is especially susceptible to dental diseases. It is essential to brush their teeth at least once a week to keep their teeth in shape. Brushing them more than once a week is suggested.

Health and Conditions

Abys tend to live exceptionally long lives, on average, lasting between 10 and 15 years. But these cats can have several diseases that can impact their life and longevity, much like any other animal. Maintain their vet appointments, and keep an eye out for these specific diseases to ensure a long and healthy life.

Minor Conditions
  • Early-onset periodontal disease
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
Serious Conditions
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency (genetically inherited)
  • Hyperesthesia syndrome
  • Patellar luxation
  • Renal amyloidosis

Male vs. Female

There are no noticeable differences between males and females in this breed.

Final Thoughts

Not all cats can provide you with the attention that you want from them and the antics that you can enjoy posting to your social media. These special kittens can give it all. Even with an unknown heritage, they’re beautiful cats that often come from strong backgrounds and lineages.

From a member of the family to your sole partner in crime, these cats are generally a great fit for anyone.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Kyselova Inna, Shutterstock

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