Nicknamed the ‘fox cat’ due to its luxurious bushy tail, the Somali is a lively and extremely agile cat who is well suited to active households. Clever and curious, the Somali cat loves to play and explore — teach your Somali a few tricks or train them to walk on a leash outdoors with you.
The main feature of the Somali is its eye catching ticked coat, with each single strand of hair having between 4 and 20 bands of contrasting colours on it which gives the coat a vibrant colourful look. Overall however, the Somali coat is recognized in four main colours including: Tawny (Ruddy in the US), Cinnamon or Sorrel, Blue, and Fawn. These colours are also available in a silver variety labeled as Black Silver, Blue Silver, Cinnamon Silver, and Fawn Silver. Every Somali has a luxurious bushy bottlebrush tail, a lovely ruff, and gorgeous britches.
Somalis have an athletic graceful build on a medium sized body. A well-defined line around the eyes gives them the appearance of always wearing eyeliner around eyes that are green or amber with the deeper richer colours being the most sought after. Their ears are pricked forward to give the appearance of alertness and intelligence. The fur is soft and silky and medium length.
These long haired versions of Abyssinians had actually been appearing in litters for many years but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that breeders from the USA, Australia, and England collaborated in an effort to attain full breed status of this semi long haired cousin of the Abyssinian. An American breeder by the name of Evelyn Mague is credited with getting the ball rolling when she noticed a few Abyssinians who were blessed with the long haired gene.
As a result, the Somali is now a recognised breed all over the world with the breed standard closely resembling the Abyssinian, apart from the length of the coat.
The Somali is a cat who enjoys life and likes to know what’s going on in your day at every moment. As a result of this exuberant personality you can expect to have a Somali riding shotgun on your shoulder while you go about the housework.
If you like to keep fit with a daily walk a Somali will make the perfect companion as they readily take to a harness and leash and will enjoy exploring the great outdoors with you. Somali cats are also great at learning tricks and can easily be trained to run an agility course.
Somali cats are gentle loving creatures who occasionally enjoy a bout of boisterous play, making them great pets for the older kids in the household. While they enjoy human company they won’t spend long hours on your lap as they will soon want to be off and exploring.
Did You Know?
Despite the name, the Somali cat breed was actually developed in the United States. Somalia, or present day Ethiopia, was the neighbor of Abyssinia at the time of Evelyn’s discovery and so she gave this new breed the title of Somali in recognition of their origin.
Caring for Your Somali Cat
Unlike other long haired breeds the Somali cat only tends to shed once or twice a year so their coat is generally easy to look after. Grooming 2-3 times a week is usually recommended to ensure their undercoat doesn’t mat or tangle.
This is a very sociable cat so if there is no one home for long periods of time it’s a good idea to get your Somali a companion so they don’t get lonely.
Despite being a very active cat it’s happy to spend its life indoors but make sure your Somali has access to lots of toys, cat gym, and receives plenty of attention and interactive play.
Somalis can suffer from a few congenital health issues including severe dental problems. Give the mouth and teeth a regular checkup as gingivitis is a constant threat. A small number of Somali cats develop PK deficiency which can cause anaemia.
If you have a Somali cat in your life, please share your experiences below.
Image: Finn Frode via Flickr.