The Somali cat is genetically similar to the Abyssinian. Due to inheriting 2 copies of the recessive gene for long hair, they have a characteristic luscious coat, unlike their cousin, the Abyssinian cat.
The Somali is essentially the longhaired version of the Abyssinian. The Abyssinian was developed in Great Britain from a cat brought into that country by Lord Robert Napier, following a military expedition to Abyssinia. The cat Lord Napier brought to Britain was named Zulu, and he was the foundation of the beautiful breed known today as the Abyssinian, as well as the Somali breed.
The unique ticking pattern on the coat of the Abyssinian reminded people of the camouflage pattern on the coat of the wild rabbit. In order to perpetuate this, Zulu was bred to random-bred cats that carried a similar look to their coat, and the Abyssinian breed was created.
Some of the kittens born in the Abyssinian litters seemed to be long haired. Since long hair was not a trait desirable in Abyssinians, the long haired kittens born were altered and placed as pets. However, many breeders loved the way the long hair looked on Abyssinian cats and, in the late 1960s, these breeders created a longhaired version of the Abyssinian and called her the Somali. The beautiful ticked coat can be seen on the Somali just as it can on the Abyssinian. Thanks to her unique look, lovely personality, and easy care, the Somali quickly became popular.
The Somalis are recognized for their bushy tails, large almond eyes, and large pointed ears, earning the nickname "Fox Cat." Their ticked coats, containing between four and twenty colors on each hair, are very fine in texture, making their coats softer to the touch than those of other cat breeds. The cat itself is medium-large in size weighing 6 to 10 pounds.
Colors and patterns
The usual or ruddy Somali is golden brown ticked with black. There are 28 colors of Somali in total although certain organizations accept only some of these colors. All organizations that register Somalis permit usual (also known as ruddy), sorrel (a.k.a. red), blue, and fawn. Most clubs also recognize usual/ruddy silver, sorrel/red silver, blue silver, and fawn silver. Other colors that may be accepted by some registries include chocolate, lilac, red, cream, usual-tortie, sorrel-tortie, blue-tortie, fawn-tortie, chocolate-tortie, lilac-tortie, and silver variants of these (e.g. blue-tortie silver).
The Somali is moderate looking in all aspects with smooth planes on her head. She has a gentle dip in the triangular head. Her rather large ears sit tilted forward giving her an alert, aware look as if she is always paying attention to everything. The eyes, which look large on the face, show the alertness and intelligence inherent in the breed.
The coat on the Somali is full of exaggerated tufts of hair in the ears. The fur is soft without being woolly and the tail is fluffy like a fox's tail. The coloring of the Somali is special. The majority of the fur has bands of color on each individual hair, with the coat looking darker along the spine line. The color on the body softens and lightens under the neck and the underside of the cat and the insides of the legs. She has a wild look about her but is not at all extreme except in the color of the fur, which carries bands of color giving her a richness and depth not seen in other breeds.
The Somali is an active cat who loves to jump and play. In spite of that, she is an easy cat to have in your home. Somalis love people and other animals. Somalis are social cats and like to have some company. This company can be provided by another cat or when people are not at home.
They will play with their own toys for hours, but also enjoy a good period of time of interactive play with their parents. Somalis will talk in their soft, quiet voice.