The Somali cat is of medium build; firm, lithe and well muscled. The head forms a medium wedge with gentle contours and the ears are set wide apart and tufted. The eyes are almond shaped, set well apart and are often amber, hazel or green in colour - the deeper the shade the better. The legs are long and have oval tufted paws. The coat is of medium length and the soft, fine hair is dense but lies flat against the body. Mature adult Somali cats will have a ruff and full breeches, but this will not be evident in kittens. On each hair there should be at least three bands of ticking giving six contrasting colour sections from base to tip. The Somali cat comes in a choice of 28 colours. 'Usual' is a rich golden brown with an apricot base coat ticked with black.
The Somali cat is the long haired version of the Abyssinian. The longhair gene was introduced into the Abyssinian breed in the early 1900s but the longhaired variety was not bred specifically until the 1960s. The original introduction of the longhaired gene took place in Britain and Abyssinians carrying the recessive gene were exported to Europe and America. Systematic breeding of the Somali cat began in America. Somalis soon became popular in other parts, particularly Australia where they are bred almost to the exclusion of the Abyssinian.
Country Of Origin
Somali cats are highly intelligent. The Somali breed is good natured and playful and enjoy games and toys. Somali cats may be shyer and more independent than their Abyssinian cousins but enjoy human company. They are active and enjoy access to outdoor exercise.
Although most Somali cats are healthy there are a few hereditary diseases which are known to appear in their near relative the Abyssinian and may, therefore, be linked to this breed too. Abyssinian cats can suffer from an inherited disease called pyruvate kinase deficiency that can cause anaemia. A reliable test is available for this and prospective owners should ask breeders if their cats have been tested and are clear of the problem. An eye problem, called progressive retinal atrophy, which causes progressive blindness has been indentified in some countries so it is worth asking the breeder about this as well.
Every cat is unique and each has their own particular likes, dislikes, and needs when it comes to food. However, cats are carnivores and every cat must obtain 41 different and specific nutrients from their food. The proportion of these nutrients will vary depending on age, lifestyle and overall health, so it's not surprising that a growing, energetic kitten needs a different balance of nutrients in her diet than a less active senior cat. Other considerations to bear in mind are feeding the right quantity of food to maintain 'ideal body condition' in accordance with feeding guidelines and catering to individual preference regarding wet or dry food recipes.
The Somali cat requires regular grooming to keep the coat free from tangles. However, because the hair is not so long as the likes of the Persian, it is easier to keep the coat in good order. Most Somali cats enjoy being groomed if the routine is established as a kitten and the job is certainly easier when done regularly. As with all cats, this breed needs regular vaccinations, parasite control and annual health checks.