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Somali Cat

This Somali Cat Article is Listed in Somali Cat Breed Information

Somali Cat

Somali Cat | Breed History | Breed Description

Somalis are intelligent cats, and while active, they have soft voices and are usually quiet. They communicate with human family members through soft mews and possess a charming trill. They are extroverts and very social. Possessed with a zest for life, they love to play, solicit nuzzles and pats, and thrive on human companionship.

Somalis have bursts of energy several times a day, at which time they will take off through the house, jumping into the air. They toss balls and toys in the air, fetch them back and begin the game anew. Tail and back arched, the Somali will run sideways like a monkey, and even hold objects and food the way a monkey does. Adept at opening cupboards and drawers, Somalis sometimes hide inside their secret areas. Many Somalis can manipulate faucets, and they love to play with water.

  

The Somali is a long-haired breed of cat. The breed appeared spontaneously in the 1950s from Abyssinian breeding programs when a number of Abyssinian kittens were born with bottle-brush tails and long fluffy coats. Abyssinians and Somalis share the same personality (active, intelligent, playful, curious) and appearance.

The only difference between them is the fur length and therefore the amount of grooming required. Somalis are extroverted, lively, alert cats that love to play, love attention, and thrive on human companionship. They are very curious, captivating, and expressive, with alluring personalities. Somalis are intelligent, learn quickly, remember remarkably well, and show a playful sense of humor.

They are natural show-offs and born clowns. Somalis have a naturally happy disposition, desire the company of humans, and demand to be treated as one of the family. Unlike most long-haired cats, Somalis shed very little excess hair. Their coat is generally shed en masse, or “blown”, once or twice a year, rather than constantly shedding like a Persian or other long-haired cat.

The Somali is a long-haired Abyssinian cat. The breed appeared spontaneously in the 1950s from Abyssinian breeding programs when a number of Abyssinian kittens were born with bottle-brush tails and long fluffy coats. Abyssinians and Somalis share the same personality (active, intelligent, playful, curious) and appearance. The only difference between them is the fur length and therefore the amount of grooming required. Unlike most long-haired cats, Somalis shed very little excess hair. Their coat is generally shed en masse, or “blown”, once or twice a year, rather than constantly shedding like a Persian or other long-haired cat.

Somalis have a striking, bushy tail, which, combined with their ruddy coat, has earned them the nickname of “fox cats” in some circles. In addition to the fluffy tail, the Somali breed features a black stripe down its back, large ears, a full ruff and breeches, contributing further to the overall “foxy” look. Their coats are ticked, which is a variation on tabby markings, and some Somalis may show full tabby stripes on portions of their bodies, but this is seen as a flaw, and tabby Somalis are only sold as neutered pets.

The only tabby marking on a show Somali is the traditional tabby ‘M’ on the middle of the forehead. Like Abyssinians, they have a dark rim around their eyes that makes them look like they are wearing kohl, and they have a small amount of white on their muzzles and chins/throats. White elsewhere on their bodies disqualifies them from show-status.

They are smart and lively, but also alert and curious. They are freedom-loving and must have plenty of room to roam and explore. They are best kept indoors or in outside runs for their own safety. The essence of the Somali cat is ticking – each hair is ticked multiple times in two colours. The Usual or Ruddy Somali is golden brown ticked with black.

There are 28 colours of Somali in total (some organisations accept only some of these colours). All organisations accept Somalis in usual/ruddy, sorrel/red, blue, and fawn. Most clubs recognise usual/ruddy silver, sorrel/red silver, blue silver, and fawn silver. Other colours that may be accepted include chocolate, lilac, red, cream, usual-tortie, sorrel-tortie, blue-tortie, fawn-tortie, chocolate-tortie, lilac-tortie, and silver variants of all the above colours.

Somalis have a striking, bushy tail, which, combined with their ruddy coat, has earned them the nickname of “fox cats” in some circles. Their coats are ticked, which is a variation on tabby markings, and some Somalis may show full tabby stripes on portions of their bodies, but this is seen as a flaw, and tabby Somalis are only sold as neutered pets.

The medium length coat of the Somali needs regular grooming to prevent matting of the undercoat, and its particular feature is the ticking that runs down each hair shaft in bands, giving an extremely rich colouring.

The principle colours are Usual, a rich, golden brown, Sorrel, a rich copper, which is very foxy; Fawn, a pale oatmeal and Blue, which has a warm oatmeal undercoat tipped with bands of blue. There are many more colours, including a range based on Silver. The Somali is a well-proportioned, medium to large cat with firm muscular development, lithe body, showing an alert, lively interest in all surroundings. Somali coats are generally two to three inches in length, non-matting, and easy to care for.

In the 1990s, many purebred Somalis had significant dental problems due to congenital problems magnified by inbreeding. As a result, many Somali cats had to have all their adult teeth removed. (Dental abscesses, especially below the gumline, can cause cats to stop eating, which often leads to hepatic lipidosis, a condition that’s often deadly.) As of 2006, the CFA breed standard makes no mention of this, and breeders say they’ve made much progress in breeding out this unfortunate trait.

The Somali breed along with its parent breed the Abyssinian have been found to suffer from Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKDef), with around 5% of the breed carrying the defective gene. There is now a genetic test to identify this recessive disorder within the breed, and as such all breeding stock should be tested to ensure no more affected kittens need be produced.

They have a remarkable “fox-like” appearance due to their markings, bushy tail, full breeches, and ruff. The Somali is available in ruddy, red, blue, and fawn. The only tabby marking on a show Somali is the traditional tabby ‘M’ on the middle of the forehead. Like Abyssinians, they have a dark rim around their eyes that makes them look like they are wearing kohl, and they have a small amount of white on their muzzles and chins/throats. White elsewhere on their bodies disqualifies them from show-status.