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Abyssinian Cat

Other names: Bunny cat

Abyssinian Cat
Abyssinian Cat

Some people say these cats are the spitting image of the Felis Iybica, the ancient African ancestor of the modern domestic cat. Others say their face, large ears, almond-shaped eyes and the colour of their coat must have been the inspiration behind many paintings and other artwork from Ancient Egypt. Their genetics, however, indicate that they also had South-East Asian ancestors. Regardless, the Abyssinian is a breed as magnificent as it is ancient, whose characteristic colour and regal appearance are the perfect match for their endearing personality and abundant energy.


Key facts about the Abyssinian Cat

  • Life expectancy : Between 13 and 15 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent
  • Type of coat : Short
  • Price : Around £300

Physical characteristics of the Abyssinian Cat

Adult size

Female cat Approximately 12 in
Male cat Approximately 12 in

Both males and females grow quite subtly, reaching their adult size around 6 months and reaching full maturity around 1 year.


Female cat Between 7 and 9 lb
Male cat Between 9 and 11 lb

Coat colour

Hare/ruddy, cinnamon (also called sorrel/red), blue, fawn

The Bunny Cat’s characteristic colouring is due to the Agouti gene. This gene separates the colour pigments along the length of the hair, resulting in alternate pale and dark bands on each hair. So for the hare colour, the fur is made up of alternating bands of red-orange (hot apricot red) and black or very dark brown, reminiscent of a hare’s coat in summer. The cinnamon colour is a mixture of light apricot and dark cinnamon, not unlike a puma’s coat. Blue and fawn coats are a dilution of the hare and cinnamon colours. Abyssinians can also be other colours such as chocolate, lilac and ginger. All these colours can fade to silver if the gene is present.

Coat patterns

Tabby / striped, but without the bands and black markings normally seen in other tabby patterns. The coat is ticked all over, which is also where the nickname “Bunny Cat” comes from.

Type of coat


Eye colour

Gold / yellow, hazel, copper, green.


Abyssinians are average size and ‘foreign’ build, meaning they have a narrow overall structure. They are athletic, with well-defined muscles, but never heavy, with a build and posture that give the impression that they are constantly on the verge of jumping. These cats move with lightness and elegance, always appearing as though they’re on the tips of their toes. Their well-proportioned and proudly-held head, along with their long tapered tail further accentuate the suppleness and fluidity of these little house pumas. Their big, almond-shaped eyes, neither round nor narrow, are shiny and expressive. Their large cup-shaped ears, with a flared base, sit quite low on their head and when pointed forward, give them a very attentive look.



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Even though they’re very lively, Bunny Cats are also very affectionate in general, enjoying the odd moment of tenderness with their humans. Some of them come asking for strokes non-stop!


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These cats love heights and need to use up their energy by playing lots and often. They are fascinated by anything that moves and can sometimes seem inexhaustible.


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Although certain individuals are the embodiment of calm, more often than not these kitties are full of life and sometimes even quite boisterous. Their physical aptitude has to be put to use somehow...


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Due to their natural curiosity, these cats have a reputation for being quite the little tornadoes, wanting to be everywhere at once and to take an active role in the life of their adopter.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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More prone to curiosity than wariness, these cats generally adapt well, but can sometimes take a little while to get there.


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This breed is normally quite independent and capable of keeping itself amused. However, they enjoy the company of their humans just as much as their own.

Behaviour of the Abyssinian Cat


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These cats are good little singers, with a diverse and melodious register, though their voice is on the quieter side.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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These little feline athletes need to play and be active every day. They will surprise you with their agile prowess.

Tendency to run away

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Bunny Cats can sometimes seek to keep exploring further and further to satisfy their curiosity, but they generally remain loyal to their humans.

Greedy / Gluttony

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Given they spend so much energy, Bunny Cats are also extremely good eaters and can sometimes even try to take food straight off the table… Interactive bowls are advised for these crafty little things!


Abyssinian Cat and cats

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These cats don’t need feline company, but will adapt to it if they are given time and the right introduction.

Abyssinian Cat and dogs

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With a good introduction, Bunny Cats get on well with dogs and may even want to play with them. If they turn out not to be so compatible, high-up spots will allow these cats to easily find respite and tranquility.

Abyssinian Cat and children

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Being so lively and active, Abyssinians in families with children, you must make sure that the children are respectful of the cat’s needs. Generally, they will be happy to play together. Just watch out for tomfoolery!

Abyssinian Cat and the elderly

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Bunny Cats require a much higher level of physical activity, meaning they are not ideal for very tranquil people. Although they enjoy lots of stroking, they may get bored and resort to making up their own activities, earning themselves a reputation for being troublesome.


The average purchase price of an Abyssinian is about £300, with price varying according to lineage, breeding reputation, age, sex, etc. For your monthly budget, you should allow around £25 per month to meet their needs, in providing a quality diet and ensuring they are kept in good health.


These cats are very easy to maintain, requiring just a weekly brushing. You can also use a chamois cloth to make their coat even shinier.


Shedding in this breed is minimal, particularly if they are brushed once a week and have a quality diet.

Nutrition of the Abyssinian Cat

Being so active, these cats sometimes have slightly higher caloric needs than other, calmer breeds. However, you must be careful not to overfeed them as if they get overweight this will quickly cause their physical abilities and general wellbeing to deteriorate.

Health of the Abyssinian Cat

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of the Abyssinian is on average 13 to 15 years.

Strong / robust

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Although these cats are short-haired, their undercoat gives them some moderate resistance to cold and heat.

Tendency to put on weight

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Any extra weight will show up very quickly on the Abyssinian’s svelte little body, but if they stay active this shouldn’t be a problem you encounter.

Common illnesses

Although Bunny Cats can develop all the same conditions found in other domestic cats some day or another, certain genetic diseases are slightly more common:

  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency, which causes anaemia (genetic testing is available)
  • Progressive retinal atrophy, which causes blindness (genetic testing is available)
  • Amyloidosis, which leads to irreversible renal failure following the build-up of amyloid in the body (no genetic test exists yet, but the disease is retreating due to breeders’ cautiousness and vigilance)

They are also somewhat susceptible to periodontal disease (gingivitis and tartar), so paying close attention to the dental care they need is recommended.

On the whole, however, this breed generally has good health.


The number of kittens per litter is 3 on average, which is fewer than most other breeds of domestic cat. Kittens are born bicoloured, with the ticking of their fur not appearing until around 6 weeks. It takes a year to a year and a half for their final colour to settle.

Good to know

The coat colour of each cat is completely unique, due to the variable distribution of pigments throughout their fur.

Origins and history

Although this cat’s exact origins are unknown, mysterious even, we do know that the first Abyssinian reported in Europe was in the 1860s, after the Anglo-Abyssinian War. The country that would later become Ethiopia was called ‘Abyssinia’ at the time, and this new breed of cat was named in honour of its country of origin. English breeders worked to refine and standardise the breed’s appearance, coat and physiognomy, notably by making crosses with the British Shorthair and other short-haired cats. The breed was recognised in England at the end of the 19th century and some of its members were exported to North America in the early 20th century. In 1917, the Abyssinian was officially recognised by the Cat Fancier Association (CFA).

These cats weren’t very popular at first: there are few kittens per litter and they don’t live to be very old. Both World Wars also decimated the breed in Europe, with Abyssinians nearly disappearing completely. It is said that there were only 12 of them left in England after World War Two. Fortunately, the combined efforts of American and European breeders restored nobility to the Abyssinian, and it is now one of the most popular breeds.


Good names for an Abyssinian cat: Beau, Iris, Odo, Rain

Find out name ideas for your cat here