Active: The Somali cat breed is an active cat that enjoys playing games and interacting with their companions. They enjoy showing off their athletic ability and will happily play all day with you.
Size: Somali cats are medium in size and weigh between 6 to 10 pounds.
Characteristics: The Somali cat has a strong, long, lithe body that is quite muscular. They have a solid body with slim legs that are incredibly athletic. They have a modified-wedge shaped head with large, almond-shaped eyes. And, they have large, slightly pointed ears perched on their heads. They have a very bushy tail, which has earned them the nickname "fox cat."
Temperament: The Somali is a busy little bee that enjoys playing and will entertain the whole family. They are intelligent and curious cats that love to learn tricks like playing fetch. Their curiosity can lead to mischief and many entertaining antics. They are not exactly lap cats and will probably not want to lounge the day away. They are active and playful and make wonderful pets for families with young children.
Care: The semi-longhaired Somali has a lovely coat that needs to be brushed weekly in order to prevent matting and tangles. Other than that, simply trim their nails and clean their ears to keep them looking lovely. And, it is very important to brush their teeth regularly to prevent periodontal disease and keep their pearly whites shining!
Coat: Somali cats have a soft, fine, double coat that is quite dense. They have longhair but otherwise have the same coat as the Abyssinian. They have a "ticked" coat with alternating bands of dark and light color giving their coat its extremely beautiful appearance. It has a fine texture and feels very soft to the touch, which will make you happy to pet them and adore them all day!
Origin: If the Somali cat breed looks somewhat familiar, it is because they are simply a semi-longhaired Abyssinian. The Abyssinian and the Somali share a history as one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds. The history of the Somali, much like many other cat breeds, is a little vague. The Abyssinian was developed in England and began to make its way to the United States in the early 1900s. While some people believe the longhair of the Somali was a natural genetic mutation, there are actually genetic studies that show that most likely Abyssinians were mated with longhaired cats as a part of their breeding program to expand the breed. As was the case with many other breeds, the Abyssinian struggled and battled extinction during World Wars I and II and, as a result, outcrossing to preserve breeds was necessary.
This is most likely where the semi-longhaired Somali came to find its origins. The origin of Somalis in North America can be traced back to one single cat, Raby Chuffa of Selene. He came to the United States from Britain in 1953 and has ancestors with a genetic history of long hair. Interestingly, the initial reception of longhaired Abyssinians was not met with much affection. In fact, when Abyssinian breeders would get a longhaired cat in one of their litters, they were given away because it was a sign of bad lineage for their Abyssinian. The longhair gene is a recessive gene and it took some time for Abyssinian breeders to feel comfortable with the longhair variety of their prized Abyssinians.
Finally, Abyssinian breeder Evelyn Mague took it upon herself to accept the longhair variety and work to grow the breed. Two of her cats carried the recessive longhair gene and she decided to name the breed Somali because it borders Ethipia (formerly Abyssinia). The name signifies the closeness of the two breeds. Finally, in 1972, the Somali Cat Club was founded by Mague. The breed began to grow in popularity and found itself with a devoted group of fanciers. The Somali cat breed began to gain acceptance and was granted championship status by the CFA in 1979. All other major associations followed suit and the breed now enjoys acceptance and admiration.