If you want a cat with the high spirits of the Abyssinian but with luxurious fur -- a cat that resembles a fox with its pointed muzzle, alert ears, and intelligent, brilliant eyes -- look no further than the Somali. With all the virtues of the Aby plus a gorgeous semi-long coat, the Somali is a beautiful and animated addition to any household.

The Somali is a breathtaking cat to behold. It bears an uncanny resemblance to a little fox, with its large ears, masked face, full ruff and bushy tail. The Somali's wild, feral look is what immediately draws fascinated attention. The lovely Somali cat is a breed of many contrasts and paradoxes. From the contrasting colours of the ticked fur to its wild appearance that belies a supremely affectionate and people-loving cat, the Somali is a unique package and an ideal companion for many homes.

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 most easily described as the longer-haired cousin to the Abyssinian. The Somali originated from Abyssinian breeding programs and Somalis share the Abyssinians lively intelligence and playful nature. The breed is now recognised in its own right and can be found in most parts of the world.

The Somali is a lot of fun to live with. They would never be described as couch potatoes - they are lively and energetic and the world is an endless adventure for them. They adapt well to life in single households or families alike - they form intense relationships with their people and delight in attention. Many Somalis are fascinated with water and love to play with a dripping tap, or drink from it. They are most helpful with housework - this may mean making a bed may takes a little longer with a Somali leaping under and over the sheets! But housework was never so much fun. Of course there are also the tender moments on their human's lap, showing their love with the same passion that they give to anything else. Although they are an active breed, they are very well-suited to indoor life - in fact this is recommended as their busy and curious nature does not make for good road sense, and like all cats they are prone to the many other dangers of outdoor life. They are easily trained to walk on a harness and lead and this is a safe way for a Somali to get fresh air. They love to play indoor games such as "fetch" and chasey. As they are such sociable cats they may be unhappy if left alone for long periods, and would benefit from another companion animal in the household. They get on well with other animals - other cats as well as dogs.

Despite the luxurious look of the coat, it is surprisingly easy to care for. The texture is silky and resistant to matting, so a weekly comb through is all that is needed. Many will "groom" their owner's hair in return! The coat takes around 2 years to develop completely, and often features a prominent ruff, and "breeches ". The tail on a Somali is a real feature - it is big, bushy and resembles a fox brush.

SomaliCurrentLonghaired Abyssinian. Agouti coat, colors and build as for Abyssinian. Longhaired kittens appeared in Abyssinian litters from time to time but were originally considered undesirable. Also found in silver series (silver base colour). See also: Abyssinian, Wild Abyssinian.
SomillaCrossbreedSomali x Chinchilla; apparently with aim of producing a silver-tipped/shaded-silver Somali-type cat (not developed). Similar to existing silver series Somalis in UK and (Alaskan) Snow Cat in US.
Wild AbyssinianExtinctFrom Singapore, close to the original type Abyssinian; ruddy (slatey) color, larger build, ringed tail, barred legs. It resembles the older style of Abyssinian before breeders eliminated the tabby markings; but its use of the name Abyssinian is controversial. The breed began in 1987 when Jerry Mayes of Marietta, Georgia imported additional foundation Singapuras from Singapore. As well as 2 Singapuras (Burmese expression brown ticked tabby) he found black ticked tabbies (non-Burmese expression) and red ticked tabbies. The blacked ticked tabbies were bred for a while as "Wild Abyssinians" and the red ticked cats were dubbed "Limau Kohlum" (Malay for "red cat"). Interest in these appears to have waned.


The long-haired cousin to the Abyssinian, the Somali cat's long, silky coat was at one time considered to be an undesirable trait by Abyssinian breeders, who took careful measures to ensure that it did not show up in their litters. In the 1960's, however, cat fanciers began to realize the exquisite beauty of the long haired Abyssinian, and soon the Somali - named after the country bordering 'Abyssinia' - breed was born.

No one knows for sure when and where the first Somali appeared; some proponents think that the long coat was a spontaneous natural mutation in the Abyssinian. Genetic studies indicate, however, that the Somali probably originated around the turn of the century in England when breeders, low on breeding stock, used longhaired cats in their Abyssinian breeding programs. In the late 1910s and in the late 1940s, during the aftermath of World Wars I and II, when so many breeds had dwindled to near extinction, breeders were forced to mix other breeds into their Abyssinian bloodlines to keep the breed going.

Raby Chuffa of Selene, a male Abyssinian that came to the United States from Britain in 1953, and that appears on the pedigrees of many Abyssinians, is considered the father of the Somali breed on this continent; all Canadian and American Somalis can be traced back to this cat.

Raby Chuffa's pedigree can be traced back to Roverdale Purrkins, an English Abyssinian female whose dam, Mrs. Mews, was of unknown ancestry and probably carried the longhair gene. Mrs. Mews was given to breeder Janet Robertson by a sailor during WWII. Mrs. Mews later produced two kittens: Roverdale Purrkins, registered as an Abyssinian, and a black unregistered male. Robertson used Purrkins to start her Roverdale cattery. Her cats and other Abyssinians of British origin were exported to Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

When longhaired kittens cropped up in Abyssinian litters (possible whenever two Abyssinians carrying the recessive gene for long hair were bred together), the kittens were quietly disposed of, since no breeder wanted to be thought to have Abyssinian lines that were "tainted" with un-Abyssinian genes. It wasn't until the 1960s that breeders, seeing the appeal of a longhaired version of a breed that was rapidly gaining popularity in the United States, began seriously trying to turn these castaways into a breed of their own. At the same time, breeders in Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand began working with the new breed as well.

Some Abyssinian breeders wanted nothing to do with these longhaired nonconformists and did not want to encourage the tenuous connection that the name "Longhaired Abyssinian" would produce. Abyssinian breeder Evelyn Mague, one of the first U.S. breeders to work with the developing longhaired breed, came up with the name "Somali" because Somalia borders Ethiopia, the country formerly called Abyssinia for which the Abyssinian was named.

In 1972 Mague founded the Somali Cat Club of America and began bringing the Somali enthusiasts together. In 1975 the CFA's International Somali Cat Club was founded, and in 1978 the Somali earned Championship status in the CFA. Since then, the breed has steadily gained popularity and has won over the opposition. Today, the Somali has Championship status in all the North American registries.


With all the virtues of the Abyssinian and adorned by a gorgeous semi-long coat, the Somali is a beautiful and lively addition to any household. Don't get a Somali if you want a cat that can be taken for a furry doorstop, or if you want a cat that will do your bidding. Like the Abyssinian, the Somali is active, curious, and high-spirited, and loves to prance around the house, opening cupboards and generally getting into mischief. Their voices are soft, their minds active, and their food dishes are always empty. They also tend to be determined cats: Once they get an idea in their furry little heads, there's no dissuading them. They're not aggressive or unfriendly, just tenacious.

Somalis are affectionate, but are not lap cats. They don't like to be cuddled and would rather be near than on you. They do, however, want to be involved in every aspect of your life. Open a drawer and your Somali will be there to peer in.

Somali cats are active, playful, intelligent, affectionate and lots of fun. Somali cats thrive on attention and make wonderful companions, putting the myth of the "aloof cat" to rest. As beautiful as they are to look at with their expressive almond-shaped green eyes and delicate markings, Somalis captivate their owners with their incredible charm, charisma and sense of humor. They remain kittenish throughout their lives, and love to play and entertain you with their clownish antics. These happy, bright little creatures are sure to bring love, joy and cheer into the lives of those who are lucky enough to own them.


Although essentially a longhaired Abyssinian, the Somali has characteristics all its own. The most notable difference, besides fur length, is size; Somalis are larger than their Aby relatives. Dense fur adds to the appearance of size. Their bodies are long, lithe and graceful with firm muscular development. The head is a modified wedge shape adorned with large, pointed, alert ears. The large, expressive, almond-shaped eyes gleam like brilliant gold or green jewels in a rich setting of fur.

The Somali's medium-length coat is soft, silky and baby-fine. The hair is longest around the neck and breeches; the mane gives the Somali the appearance of a miniature lion. A luxurious fox-like brush adorns the tail.

Like the Abyssinian, the Somali is a ticked or agouti breed. Each hair has bands of alternating darker and lighter color that gives the fur its characteristic camouflage. The Somali's longer fur shows off the ticking to its best advantage. The ticked pattern is actually a type of tabby. While the body is free of tabby stripes, some striping can be seen on the face; dark pencil lines extend from the eyes and brows, and the forehead is decorated with the classic tabby "M."

Somalis come in the same colors as the Aby: ruddy, red, blue and fawn. All associations except TCA accept these colors; TCA accepts only ruddy and red. Some associations such as TICA and AACE also accept silver. This color is controversial, however, as some breeders believe that the inhibitor gene responsible for the silver effect will ruin the ruddy coloration.

The traditional Somali was recently accepted by TCA. According to traditionalists, the body and head type of the Somali began to change around 1983, when the other cat associations began supporting a more tubular and thin body type and an extreme wedge-shaped head. The traditional Somali has a more robust, muscular body and a head that's less extremely wedge-shaped and fine-boned.

Somalis are well-proportioned, medium to large cats with firm muscular development. Their body is medium long and graceful, with a medium-length soft and silky coat that requires little grooming. The coat is usually one to three inches long, with shorter fur across the shoulders. The tail is fluffy and full; their feet have tufts between the toes. Their large, almond shaped eyes range in color from intense green to rich copper. The Somali has an agouti, or ticked, coat with four to twenty bands of color on each hair. The ticked fur mantles the cat with harmonizing solid color on its underside. They come in four recognized colors: ruddy, red, blue and fawn.

Somalis have small litters of three to four kittens, which develop slowly. They reach their full size at about eighteen months of age. Somalis are medium to large cats with a well-proportioned, slender frame. The coat is from two to three inches long, but is easy to care for. The Somali cat's coat comes in beautiful shades of ruddy, red, blue and fawn. The lovely face is accentuated by markings that rival anything that could be achieved by a makeup artist, and they have an almost fox-like appearance, thanks to a full, fluffy tail, breeches and ruff.

Somalis are generally healthy, hardy and vigorous. Like all purebred breeds, however, Somalis have a few cons with their pros. Like the Abyssinian, some Somalis have trouble with gingivitis and tooth decay, and require regular check ups, cleanings and tooth brushing to keep their smiles bright. Some Somali lines also have a higher incidence of renal amyloidosis -- a hereditary disease found in Aby bloodlines as well.


Like the Abyssinian, the Somali is a ticked or agouti breed. Like the Abyssinian, Somalis are susceptible to gingivitis, tooth decay, and the renal disease amyloidosis.

GeneralThe overall impression of the Somali is that of a well proportioned medium to large cat, firm muscular development, lithe, showing an alert, lively interest in all surroundings, with an even disposition and easy to handle. The cat is to give the appearance of activity, sound health, and general vigor.
BodyTorso medium long, lithe, and graceful, showing well-developed muscular strength. Rib cage is rounded; back is slightly arched giving the appearance of a cat about to spring; flank level with no tuck up. Conformation strikes a medium between the extremes of cobby and svelte lengthy types.
HeadA modified, slightly rounded wedge without flat planes; the brow, cheek, and profile lines all showing a gentle contour. A slight rise from the bridge of the nose to the forehead, which should be of good size with width between the ears flowing into the arched neck without a break.
MuzzleShall follow gentle contours in conformity with the skull, as viewed from the front profile. Chin shall be full, neither undershot nor overshot, having a rounded appearance. The muzzle shall not be sharply pointed and there shall be no evidence of snippiness, foxiness, or whisker pinch. Allowance to be made for jowls in adult males.
EarsLarge, alert, moderately pointed, broad, and cupped at the base. Ear set on a line towards the rear of the skull. The inner ear shall have horizontal tufts that reach nearly to the other side of the ear; tufts desirable.
EyesAlmond shaped, large, brilliant, and expressive. Skull aperture neither round nor oriental. Eyes accented by dark lidskin encircled by light colored area. Above each a short dark vertical pencil stroke with a dark pencil line continuing from the upper lid towards the ear.
Legs/FeetLegs in proportion to torso; feet oval and compact. When standing, the Somali gives the impression of being nimble and quick. Toes: five in front and four in back.
TailHaving a full brush, thick at the base, and slightly tapering. Length in balance with torso.
CoatTexture very soft to the touch, extremely fine and double coated. The more dense the coat, the better. Length: a medium length coat, except over shoulders, where a slightly shorter length is permitted. Preference is to be given to a cat with ruff and breeches, giving a full-coated appearance to the cat.
ColorRuddy, red (sorrel), blue, and fawn.
PenalizeColor faults - cold grey or sandy tone to coat color; mottling or speckling on unticked areas. Pattern faults - necklaces, leg bars, tabby stripes, or bars on body; lack of desired markings on head and tail. Black roots on body.
DisqualifyWhite locket or groin spot or white anywhere on body other than on the upper throat, chin and nostril area. Any skeletal abnormality. Wrong color paw pads or nose leather. Any other colors than the four accepted colors. Unbroken necklace. Incorrect number of toes. Kinks in tail.
Allowable OutcrossesAbyssinian

COAT COLOR: warm and glowing. Ticking: distinct and even, with dark colored bands contrasting with lighter colored bands on the hair shafts. Undercoat color clear and bright to the skin. Deeper color shades desired, however, intensity of ticking not to be sacrificed for depth of color. Preference given to cats UNMARKED on the undersides, chest, and legs; tail without rings. Markings: darker shading along spine continuing through tip of tail; darker shading up the hocks, shading allowed at the point of the elbow; dark lines extending from eyes and brows, cheekbone shading, dots and shading on whisker pads are desirable enhancements, eyes accentuated by fine dark line, encircled by light colored area. Eye color: gold or green, the more richness and depth of color the better.

RUDDY: ground color burnt-sienna, ticked with various shades of darker brown or black; the extreme outer tip to be the darkest. Tail tipped with black. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the ground color. Nose leather: tile red. Paw pads: black or dark brown, with black between toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.

RED: ground color rich, warm glowing red, ticked with chocolate-brown, the extreme outer tip to be darkest. Tail tipped with chocolate-brown. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the ground color. Nose leather: rosy pink. Paw pads: pink, with chocolate-brown between toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.

BLUE: ground color warm beige, ticked with slate blue, the extreme outer tip to be the darkest. Tail tipped with slate blue. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the ground color. Nose leather: old rose. Paw pads: mauve, with slate blue between toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.

FAWN: ground color warm rose-beige, ticked with light cocoa-brown, the extreme outer tip to be the darkest. Tail tipped with light cocoa-brown. The underside and inside of legs to be a tint to harmonize with the ground color. Nose leather: salmon. Paw Pads: pink with light cocoa-brown between the toes, extending slightly beyond the paws.

(the Somali is extremely slow in showing mature ticking and allowances should be made for kittens and young cats.)