By George Adams
The Somali is an intelligent playful cat and for those who like longhaired cats, this may be the breed for you. Somalis are descendants of the Abyssinian cat breed, and have a lot of similar traits. Abyssinian litters have seen the birth of longhair cats for many generations and in the 1960s, a Canadian breeder thought of coming up with a new breed from these kittens. He called it the Somali and their popularity spread fast to the United States and Europe. This breed was developed from the Abyssinian and they were known as the longhair Abyssinian.
A very distinguishing feature of these cats is the markings on the face which are often described as heavy stage makeup. The eyes look like they have been outlined with kohl and around the dark ring there is a ring of light hair. So the effect is that of a cat with glasses. The body has a wedge shaped head with large ears, a well muscled body, a long bushy tail and very expressive eyes. This is one breed that can be found in colors like chocolate, red, blue, lilac, ruddy, sorrel, cream colors, fawn, with silver tabby patterns or tortoiseshell tabby.
These are highly trainable cats that are happiest when they have something to play with. The toy can be a paper bag or some small toy. They can do all the things one would train dogs for, like fetch the paper, walk on a leash and come when called or they are just as happy to cuddle in your lap for the six o’ clock news. If you plan to be out for most of the day, then get a small companion for your Somali because a lonely Somali can get really unhappy.
Grooming is a once a week affair as they have a medium length coat that needs a good brushing to keep it tangle free and unmatted and this is more so around the tail and the ruff around the neck as here the hair is the longest. If time is a problem, then get a short haired cat as a Somali with matted hair is not a happy Somali. These cats keep reasonably good health and the only thing to be aware of is that they may have a hairball problem occasionally. Check with your local vet for hairball control food.
The Somali is a very family oriented cat and people who like cats will be very happy with these as pets as they make very good pets. There are breeds which are very good but don’t do very well when trained and kept in a home, but not Somalis. These intelligent and playful cats are just the right breed for a cat loving family.