ruddy Somali
ruddy Somali

Somalis exist in the following colours:

  • ruddy

  • chocolate

  • sorrel

  • blue

  • lilac

  • fawn

  • all those colours can be also with silver, where the base colour is silver white.

In the ruddy Somali the base colour is a rich orange colour, the hairs are ticked with dark seal.
The ruddy Somali is genetically black, the warm coppery coat colour comes from rufismus (caused by rufus polygenes) which has been increased over the years through sorrowful selective breeding.


In the sorrel Somali the base colour is apricot, the hairs are ticked with chocolate.
In some federations this colour is called "red", which has nothing to do genetically with the red colour caused by the gene "Orange", but with the gene "bl" an allel of "b", called cinnamon.

In the blue Somali the base colour is blue-grey with a beige (sometimes quite pale) ground colour, the hairs are ticked with dark blue.
Chest, stomach, inside of the legs are coloured with the beige ground colour and don't show any ticking.

In the fawn Somali the base colour is beige (cream) with a very pale ground colour, which is also cream in tone, the hairs are ticked with dark cream.
Chest, stomach, inside of the legs are coloured with the very pale cream ground colour and don't show any ticking.
The colour is very rare and appears to be slightly dull, it is a colour for cat fanciers.

In the black silver Somali the base colour is silver white, the hairs are ticked with black.
It is very difficult in this colour not to have a yellow tinge in the coat (mainly not in the face, on the back and the front legs) which is caused by too much rufismus.
Chest, stomach, inside of the legs are silver white without any ticking or darker colour patches.
Not all colours are recognized in all organizations, this differs quite a lot.
In some organizations also "red" (and cream, and tortie) is recognized, based on the sex-linked gene O.


The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication, Science Express June 28, 2007, Science July 27, 2007, Vol. 317, pages 519-523
describes the sequencing of the DNA of the domestic cat, where it turned out that the domestic cat (and the Abyssinian belongs to domestic cats) originates from the Felis slivestris lybica.

Study Traces Cat's Ancestry to Middle East, The New York Times, Science, June 29, 2007
You can register yourself for free.

African Wildcat, IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group

Felis chaus, IUCN/SSC Red List of Threatened Species

Cats, Their Points & Characteristics, Dr William Gordon Stables, 1876, Dean & Son, London

The Book of the Cat, Frances Simpson, 1903
If you click on the link, you can download the complete book.

Our cats and all about them
Harrison Weir
London, Fanciers' Gazette, 1892

Harry Bloks historische Abessinier
with many pedigrees and pictures of historical Abyssinians.

The Abyssinian Homepage
Very detailed history, and many articles.



Progressive Retina-Atrophy (PRA)
is a progressive degeneration of the photo receptors in the retina and loss of vision.
Since the begin of 8/2007 there is a DNA-test for the recessive type of the progressive degeneration of rods and cones in the retina of Abyssinian and Somali - rdAC.

Pyruvatcinase deficiency
leads to a special type of anemia. The cats miss the enzyme Pyruvatcinase in the red blood cells (erythrocytes), which is necessary for energy production. The consequence is a a disturbed enzymatic reaction, called the glycolysis (split of glykose, an energy carrier), the life span of the red blood cells, which is usually 70-120 days, is drastically shortened. this fact leads to a chronic, regenerative hemolytic anemia.

Renal Amyloidosis
is a defect in metabolism, which causes that proteins, which cannot be detracted, called amyloides, are settled in the kidneys. This disease becomes virulent between an age of 4 to 7 years, and can be found in 75% of diseased males. Consequently it leads to chronic kidney insufficiency (CNI), which usually leads to death.

Patella luxation
is a deformation in the knee or the patella, where the patella is dislocated temporarily or permanently.


Standard ACF
Standard ACFA
Standard CCA
Standard CFA
Standard FIFe
Standard GCCF
(You must buy the booklet.)
Standard LOOF
Standard TICA
Standard WCF
Unusual Abyssinian colors
Show breeders
Enter cattery into breeders list

Breed profile

The Somali is the longhaired version of the Abyssinian and is a very elegant and active semi-longhaired cat.
Size is medium.
The body together with the legs form more or less a square. The body is very muscular with sinewy slender legs.
The shape of the head is a short modified wedge where all lines and curves are soft and gentle.
What does that mean ?
Looking on the head either from the front or in profile there should not be seen any straight lines or flat planes. The forehead is gently curved, the muzzle is gently curved and round, i.e. the head is not pointed.
When viewed from the side the head is rather short, the nose shows a gentle curve and the profile is not straight.
Ears are fairly large and wide at the base, when viewed from the side they are slightly tilted forward, called pricked, which gives the cat this certain alert expression.
Eyes are large and almond in shape and very brilliant, you get caught by these eyes.
The tail is medium to almost long with a rounded tip, i.e. not pointed like on the Siamese.

The most characteristic and important part of the Somali is its coat, in the non-silver colours it shows a rich base colour and each hair of the upper body parts is ticked, which means each hair shows several bands of the base colour alternating with the darker colour of the ticking, the tips of the hairs are coloured with the same darker colour as the ticking.
The ticking is it what gives that certain impression of wild hairs as you can see it also for example in rabbits and deer.
The underside of the body (chest, stomach, inside of the legs) is without ticking.

In the face you can see, that the Somali is a tabby cat (called Ticked Tabby), because you can find the typical tabby markings like the "M" on the forehead and the rims around the eyes. But on all the other parts, like around the neck, the flanks, the legs and the tail no stripes or rings are permitted.
The best place to see which colour the ticking has is the tail tip which is uniform in colour.

Hairs are quite fine and thin, not very long on the body, with a little frill, but longer breeches on the hind legs. The coat has quite little undercoat. In summer one can see that the Somali is a longhaired cat on the beautiful foxy tail.



When in 1963 the CCA allbreed judge Ken McGill judged on a show in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, he got a longhaired Abyssinian to judge in his class, which was entered as a joke by Abyssinian breeder Mary Mailing. He was captured by the beauty of the cat that he asked Mary to breed such a cat for him. So Ken founded the oldest Somali line in Canada, the first official Somali was McGill's May-Ling Tutsuta.
At the same time in 1967 the US breeder Evelyn Mague began working with Somalis, because she detected that two of her Abyssinians carried the gene for longhair, Lynn-Lee's Lord Dublin and Lo-Mi-R Trill By. These two cats had produced a longhaired kitten, but before Evelyn could continue, her friend Charlotte Lohmeyer had given away this kitten to be placed, because it was not a good Abyssinian. Evelyn worked for an animal welfare group, Cat Placement, when she found the male cat, George, in a shelter, which turned out to be the kitten from the litter of Lord Dublin and Trill By. As George could not be used for breeding, because he was not used to other cats, Evelyn repeated the mating between his parents. It was not easy for Evelyn Mague to breed Somalis, because the Abyssinian breeders considered the longhaired Abyssinians to be of low quality and sorted the longhaired kittens out. In the early 1970-s the co-operation between Evelyn Mague and Don Richings, a Canadian breeder, started. The lines of Don Richings traced back to Ken McGills Cattery Dunedin.
Evelyn had choosen the name Somali for the longhaired Abyssinian, Somalia being the ancient neighbour country of Abyssinia, to give this new breed a diligent name.

The first documented ancestor of the Somali seemed to have appeared in 1942, when a sailor brought a shipping cat, looking alike to an Abyssinian, to England. One daughter of this cat was given as gift to the breeder Janet C. Robertson, who called the female Mrs. Mews. Mrs. Mews got two kittens, Roverdale Purrkins, which was registered as Abyssinian, and a black unregistered male. Purrkins became the foundation male of Mrs. Robertson cattery, Roverdale, from which cats were exported to Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. One progeny of Roverdale Purrkins was Raby Chuffa of Selene, an Abyssinian male, which was exported in 1953 from England to the US. This male is called the foundation male for the Somalis, because in his progeny many longhaired kittens appeared. Raby Chuffa of Selene can be found in many US pedigrees.

When the first pure longhaired litter was born on January 3, 1972 in Evelyn Mague's Lynn-Lee cattery, she founded the Somali Cat Club of America to promote the recognition of the Somali. It took up to 1979 that the Somali got championship status by CFA. In Europe the Somali was recognized in 1982 by FIFe.

The first Somalis were imported to England in 1980: Foxtail's Belle Starr and Ch Naphrani's Omar Khayyam. In 1981 Drs Peter and Margaret Frayne imported two more Somalis, Black Iron Vagabond and Black Iron Venus from the US to England. Richard Gebhardt, president of the American Cat Fanciers Association described Black Iron Vagabond, a usual Somali male, as the foundation cat of the British Somali.



The Somali is extremely gentle and affectionate to people. They are very good companions, not excessively "talkative". They are interested in their surroundings, which gives them this very special expression in their sparkling brilliant eyes. Nothing is too small, nothing too big not to be the subject of their adventure of investigation.
They love to climb, but very seldom break or disturb things, even when they move between things like a slalom skier.
This breed seems to be able to read and anticipate the needs of their favorite persons.


As the Somali is a longhaired cat, it needs to be brushed regularly. But the coat has little tendency to get knots or to become filthy, because it has little undercoat. Bathing is rather seldom needed.

Eurocatfancy 2005-2012