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Home > Cats > Cat Breeds > Abyssinian Cat Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Abyssinian Cat Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Abyssinian cat

When you look at an Abyssinian, you are viewing one of the world’s most ancient felines in history. These cats carry grace, fierce intelligence, and personality. Even though you might be captivated by the thick coat and penetrating eyes of the Abyssinian, is this cat a perfect candidate to be a member of your household?

Breed Overview


8-10 inches


9-15 pounds


12-15 years


Sorrel, blue, lilac, silver, fawn, cinnamon

Suitable for:

Active families, spacious homes


Active, playful, social, quiet, adventurous

Let’s get into all the details on what makes the Abyssinian fantastic or challenging to own.

Abyssinian Characteristics

High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds' potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.


Abyssinian Kittens

Abyssinian kitten
Image Credit: Dmitry Tsapenko, Pixabay

Because of the potential for genetic health issues, it’s always best to buy from a cat breeder that can offer a full history of any health issues in the bloodline. Vet checks and first-round shots are commonplace for kittens going to new homes. Get a heads up on what work has been done and find out if there are any health issues in the litter.

You might be able to find an Abyssinian or Abyssinian mix from a local rescue or shelter. If you do, you can expect the adoption fees to include vet care, medications, surgeries, and other care expenses. Bringing home an Abyssinian means creating a strong bond with a charismatic and loyal cat.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Abyssinian

Abyssinian cats
Image Credit: Dmitry Tsapenko, Pixabay

Abyssinian cats are brilliant, outsmarting you at every turn. They thrive on adventure and are even clownish in their actions. They might be sitting peacefully on your windowsill one minute only to be leaping on top of your refrigerator the next. We really can’t ever pinpoint exactly what your Abyssinian will do.

Abyssinians tend to be very food motivated, so make sure to safeguard your plate at dinner. They might snatch something out of your hand if you’re not careful—which makes them semi-dog-like in ways.

These cats are known to be very affectionate with their owners, but the same might not extend to kids or strangers, so keep your eye on them. If an Abyssinian is well-socialized, they make terrific buddies with just about everybody in the house—on their terms, of course.

Abyssinians need constant stimulation. If you don’t give them something to do, they will find something on their own. So, as you might suspect, this can make them quite mischievous when the mood strikes.

The more cat-friendly objects you have to add to their kingdom, the better your belongings will stay intact. Get creative with toys, cat trees, and hideouts. They will appreciate the variety.

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

Abyssinians do very well in family settings, but they do as they please. They will come up to you when they’re hungry, want chin rubs, or a warm place to nap—but the relationship between you has to be mutual.

Also, smaller kids can be a bit more erratic, which might irritate your Abyssinian. Because they don’t like being restricted when cuddled, they might not do best with smaller children. It’s not that they are aggressive, they aren’t. They just prefer to steer clear of chaotic kids until they mature a bit.

Because of their high activity levels and need for pacifying attention, they might not work well with seniors, either. Abyssinians aren’t lazy lap cats, so they need an atmosphere that’s as active as they are.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

It’s entirely possible for you Abyssinian to make good friends with other household pets, but they can be particular. If the cat is annoyed or off-put by a furry household friend, they might just put up certain boundaries or avoid them altogether.

Early socialization is a crucial part of development. The more you acclimate them to other pets, the better they will do.

However, these cats have a high prey drive. They may torment smaller pets, like guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, or rats. It’s always best to keep a safe and reasonable distance between smaller cage animals and your Abyssinian.


Things to Know When Owning an Abyssinian:

Food & Diet Requirements

Abyssinians don’t have any particular dietary requirements. However, they do need high-quality, nutrient-rich cat food daily. You can feed your Abyssinian dry kibble, wet food, or a combination of both. If you tailor the right recipe, these cats will also enjoy my lovely oral diet as well.

Abyssinian cat lying on a white carpet
Image Credit: Dmitry Tsapenko, Pixabay

Abyssinians are very food motivated, so make sure that you’re always providing them healthy snacks. They don’t have as much reserve for what they should and shouldn’t put in their mouths. So don’t be surprised if this is the kind of cat that will eat items that make you question their judgment.

Exercise 🐈

Abyssinians won’t have a problem with self-exercise. Most of the day, you will find them hanging off of different furniture pieces in your home. These cats benefit greatly from having lots of toys, activities, and entertainment places to keep them busy.

If your Abyssinian is bored, this is a recipe for trouble. These cats can become very poorly behaved if they don’t have enough to stimulate them. Always offer excellent scratching surfaces, high places to perch, and lots of enticing toys.

Even though they might get much more, Abyssinians at least 15 minutes of exercise per day to stay healthy.

Training 🧶

An Abyssinian kitten will have next to no trouble catching on to simple tasks, like litter training. Once you introduce them to the box, most will pick up on how to use the potty the first few times. Most of the time, when kittens are 8 weeks old, they are fully litter-trained and sufficient.

It’s best to restrict the distance your kitten can go at first so they don’t have an accident if they can’t find the box. You can gradually introduce them to the rest of the household once you feel they have the swing of things.

You can absolutely train an Abyssinian to learn tricks, but you have to make them feel like they’re doing it on their own terms. The breed tends to be somewhat headstrong and independent. Don’t let them fool you—they are beyond capable of learning, and they will—with enough perseverance on your end.

Abyssinian cat sitting on grass
Image Credit: Dmitry Tsapenko, Pixabay

Grooming ✂️

Abyssinians tend to be very low maintenance in terms of grooming. Like most cats, they are excellent at self-grooming, which takes a lot of the workload off your hands.

But, like all house cats, bath time is still a real thing. They need to have a good scrub once every 6 weeks to keep their coat healthy and debris-free. Because Abyssinians are a bit high-strung, they might not like the restriction or helplessness during bath time.

It’s best to acclimate them at a very early age to ensure they are tolerant of baths. You can also follow up after bath time with ear cleaning, nail clipping, and routine teeth brushing.

Health and Conditions 🏥

This breed is generally healthy but may face certain conditions in its lifetime. Most health issues can be avoided by ensuring they have a proper diet and exercise regimen.

Kittens go to the vet pretty often during their first year for immunizations, checkups, and spay or neutering. Afterward, take your kitty on their annual vet visit to make sure they are healthy.

Many vets can pick up on the onset of specific illnesses or conditions with regular blood work and observation.

Minor Conditions
  • Bacterial and viral infections
Serious Conditions
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency
  • Kidney disease
  • Retinal atrophy

Serious Conditions:

Pyruvate kinase deficiency — this is a breed-specific genetic red blood cell disease that affects Abyssinian and Somali cats. The main issue with the disorder is the development of anemia.

Kidney disease — while kidney disease typically starts later in life, it can affect cats at any stage of life. With early detection and proper treatment, they can live a long life.

Retinal atrophy — this eye disease causes retinas to deteriorate, causing eventual blindness.

Minor Conditions:

Bacterial and viral infections — these cats can be susceptible to viruses and bacterial infections, like upper respiratory illnesses.

divider-cat Male vs. Female

When it comes to personality, every Abyssinian is different, regardless of gender. But specific characteristics might fall to one side or another most commonly.

Males tend to be a little more lovable and interactive. Females prefer attention but at their will. Both genders are fiercely independent, but the female is okay spending time alone. Males might be a tad needy or clingy.

Both genders reach sexual maturity around 6 months of age. Your vet might recommend getting them fixed before this takes place. Both males and females use marking, but for different reasons. Many males get territorial and might spray to ward off others or claim their property.

All Abyssinians desire to chase, pounce, and attack—but females tend to be better hunters. So, don’t be surprised to find a dead mouse at the feet of a very proud cat.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Abyssinian

1. Abyssinians Are Explorers at Heart

These cats will constantly be on the move, exploring every little movement, small space, and high platform. They will leave no stone unturned.

2. Abyssinians Have a Long-Haired Version—The Somali

The impressive Somali is structurally similar to the Abyssinian, but they have medium to long length fur.

3. They Hold the Nickname, “The Cat Of The Blue Nile.”

There’s a widespread belief that the Abyssinian is a breed worshipped as gods by the ancient Egyptians.

Abyssinian cat on sofa
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock



If you’ve reached the end of this article and you think the Abyssinian is for you, congratulations on finding the breed you love. The ancient Abyssinian is a fun, refreshing, charismatic cat with a mind of its own. They will bring you lots of joy and laughter in your relationship.

Remember, if you purchase from a breeder, make sure they are trustworthy, so you have a healthy kitten. There is always the option to check with local rescues and shelters, too.

Featured Image: Osetrik, Shutterstock

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