Abyssinian

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Abyssianian

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The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Quick Facts

  • Origin: Greece. They are one of the oldest domesticated breeds in the world.
  • Size: Medium
  • Breed group: Natural
  • Lifespan: 13-15 years
  • Coat: Medium-length, semi-longhaired, with a variety of colors and patterns
  • Temperament: Intelligent, playful, and affectionate
  • Exercise needs: Moderate
  • Training: Trainable
  • Grooming: ModerateThe Aegean cat is the only native cat breed to Greece.

History

Showing cats was all the rage in the late Victorian era. One of the unusual breeds exhibited at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in 1871 was an Abyssinian — “captured in the late Abyssinian War” — who took third place. The report on the cat show, published in the January 27, 1872, issue of Harper’s Weekly, was the first known mention in print of the breed. Unfortunately, no records exist regarding the cats’ origins, although myths and speculation abound, including claims that it was the cat of the pharaohs, and that it was created in Britain by crossing silver and brown tabbies with cats that had “ticked” coats.

Today, genetic evidence suggests that the cats came from Indian Ocean coastal regions and parts of Southeast Asia. British and Dutch traders may well have brought the cats from ports such as Calcutta, India, or the islands of Indonesia. A taxidermied specimen of a ruddy ticked cat exhibited in the 1830s at the Leiden Zoological Museum in The Netherlands, where he was labeled “Patrie, domestica India,” gives creedence to that theory.

The cats were probably given the name Abyssinian because Zula, the cat exhibited at the Crystal Palace, was said to have been imported from Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). Early pedigrees show crosses to non-Abyssinian cats, which may explain the introduction of new coat colors and the gene for long hair. American cat fanciers first imported some Abyssinians in 1900, but Abyssinian breeding programs didn’t get a real start in the United States until the 1930s, when more of the cats were imported from Britain.

It’s a good thing that a number of cats were exported to the U.S. because World War II devastated the breed. Only a dozen of the cats had survived in England by the end of the war. The breed bounced back, however, and has become one of the most popular cat breeds.