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The Somali, despite its name, does not come from
Africa. The recessive longhaired gene was present in the Abyssinian
breed for years, probably introduced after World War II when the
Aby breed was nearly wiped out in England. For many years, these early longhaired
kittens from Aby breedings were quietly eliminated (some by placing
as pets, sometimes not) until unrelated groups of breeders in
Canada and the United States began working with these longhaired
"throwaways" in the early 1960s to develop the breed
that exists today.
The Somali breed was accepted for championship
status in CFA in 1977, though only in ruddy; other colors -- red,
blue, and fawn -- were accepted later. The breed was first imported
to the UK in 1981, and received championship status from GCCF
ten years later.
The Somali cat is perhaps most easily described as
a longhaired Abyssinian, although over time, the types have diverged
some and these breeds no longer look like exact counterparts.
The lively Somali breed has a bushy tail that led to the nickname "fox cat". Its dense, soft coat is ticked in the manner associated
with wild cats.
The Somali personality is extroverted, active, inquisitive,
very affectionate and people-oriented. They can be stubborn and
obedience is better won with love and praise than with punishment.
Although sources often state that Somalis are
not good apartment-dwellers, they are fine apartment cats as long
as they have the run of the place. They do not like being caged
or closely confined to a single room for extended periods.
Somali kittens are most commonly available in blue, fawn,
red (sorrel), and ruddy colors. Somali kittens are also available in silver
tones in Europe and less frequently in the United States, although
many associations do not accept these color. They are accepted
outside the United States in other colors in some other associations,
including chocolate and lilac. Theoretically, the Somali can be
found in twenty-eight colors total, but only the four mentioned
above are widely accepted.
Photo © Chanan
Interesting fact: The Somali cat shares the
distinction with the Birman of being one of the most challenging
breeds of cat to breed for show. This is because there are key
features of the breed -- intense undercoat color and clarity (lack
of stripes on the neck and legs) -- often cancel one another out. The longer hair length also makes undesirable marks
show up more easily than they do on their parent breed, the Abyssinian.
Associations: The Somali breed is accepted in
all major cat registries.
Books about the Somali from amazon.com
Somali Breed Information
Somali Cat Clubs/Associations
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