While longhair cats occasionally were born in Abyssinian litters for many generations, it was not until the nineteen sixties that a Canadian breeder decided to develop a cat breed from these longhair kittens. The Somali was soon quite popular and rapidly spread to the United States and Europe. Because these cats were developed without using any breed but the Abyssinian, they are also known as Longhair Abyssinians.
The Somali’s most striking characteristic is its facial markings. Many cat fanciers say that these markings look like heavily applied stage makeup. The breed’s eyes are especially striking since the cats appear to be wearing kohl around their eyes. Right outside these dark rims, this breed has light colored hair. Altogether, these markings make the Somali look a bit like he is wearing eye makeup and glasses. This breed has a wedge-shaped head, big ears, large, expressive eyes, and a well-muscled body. The tail is quite long and bushy. These lovely cats come in Ruddy, Chocolate, Sorrel, Red, Blue, Lilac, Fawn, or Cream colors, with tabby, Tortoiseshell tabby, or Silver tabby patterns.
The Somali’s medium-length coat does need to be brushed at least once a week or it will become tangled and matted. If you do not have the time to groom your cat on a regular basis, you may want to consider choosing a shorthair cat breed instead, since a matted cat is not a happy cat. As you groom your cat, you will need to pay particular attention to the ruff of hair around his neck and his tail, as these areas have longer hair than the rest of his body.
Like the Abyssinian, the Somali is a very playful breed and will need plenty of toys. However, as far as this breed is concerned, a paper bag or a box are wonderful toys, so you do not need to worry about breaking the piggy bank open to keep your cat amused. The playful nature of the Somali makes it an ideal choice for families or for people with multiple cat homes. If you are away from home a good part of the day, you may want to seriously consider adding a second cat to your household to keep your little guy from becoming lonely and unhappy.
The Somali is extremely intelligent and very trainable. You should be able to easily teach your cat to come when he is called, to fetch toys, and to walk on a leash. Of course, he will also be content to just sit in your lap and cuddle while you watch the evening news.
Since the Somali is a longhair cat breed, you may want to consult your veterinarian about feeding him a hairball control food. Other than occasional hairball problems this breed is extremely healthy.