|A blue Somali kitten|
|Common nicknames||Fox cat; long-haired Abyssinian|
|Domestic cat (Felis catus)|
The Somali is a cat breed created from long-haired Abyssinian cats. The breed appeared in the 1950s from Abyssinian breeding programs when a number of Abyssinian kittens were born with bottle-brush tails and long fluffy coats. Abyssinians and Somalis share similar personalities — intelligent, playful, curious — however Somalis are more relaxed and easygoing than the more active Abyssinians.
The body type and markings of the two breeds are similar, however the fur length of the Somali requires more grooming than the Abyssinian. Unlike most long-haired cats, Somalis shed very little excess hair. Their coat is generally shed en masse, or "blown", once or twice a year, rather than constantly shedding like a Persian or other long-haired cat.
Due to the loss of many Abyssinians during World War II, cats of unknown background were used to rebuild the breed and it is likely that cats carrying the recessive longhair gene made their way into the breeding population then. The introduction of the longhair gene may be much earlier as of the 12 cats registered in 1905 by the National Cat Club, all had at least one parent of unknown origin. Some though believe that the longhaired Abyssinians were the result of a spontaneous mutation rather than an expression of the recessive longhair gene.
The first cats of this type were longhairs that appeared in litters of Abyssinian kittens. In the 1940s, a British breeder named Janet Robertson exported some normal Abyssinian kittens to Australia, New Zealand, and North America. Descendants of these cats occasionally produced kittens with long or fuzzy coats, and in 1963, Mary Mailing, a breeder from Canada, entered one into a local pet show. Ken McGill, the show's judge, asked for one to breed from.
An American Abyssinian breeder Evelyn Mague, also received longhairs from her cats, which she named "Somalis". Don Richings, another Canadian breeder, used kittens from McGill, and began to work with Mague. The first Somali recognized as such by a fancier organization was Mayling Tutsuta, on of McGill's cats. As of the late 1970s, the Somali was fully accepted in North America. The new breed was accepted in Europe in the 1980s. By 1991, the breed was broadly (though not universally) accepted internationally.[verification needed]
Somalis have a striking, bushy tail, and two large ears which, combined with their ticked and often ruddy coat, has earned them the nickname of "fox cat" in some circles. In addition to the fluffy tail, the Somali breed features a somewhat darker stripe down its back, large ears, a full ruff and breeches, contributing further to the overall "foxy" look.
Somali coats are ticked; each hair is ticked multiple times in two colors. Ticking is a variation on tabby markings, and occasionally a Somali may show full tabby stripes on portions of their bodies, but this is seen[by whom?] as a flaw, and tabby Somalis are only sold as neutered pets. The only tabby marking on a show Somali is the traditional tabby 'M' on the middle of the forehead. Like Abyssinians, they have a dark rim around their eyes that makes them look like they are wearing kohl eyeliner, and they have a small amount of white on their muzzles and chins/throats. White elsewhere on their bodies disqualifies them from show-status.
Colors and patterns
The usual or ruddy Somali is golden brown ticked with black. There are 28 colours of Somali in total (some organisations accept only some of these colours). All organisations that register Somalis permit usual (also known as ruddy), sorrel (a.k.a. red), blue, and fawn. Most clubs also recognise usual/ruddy silver, sorrel/red silver, blue silver, and fawn silver. Other colours 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).
In the 1990s, many purebred Somalis had significant dental problems due to congenital problems magnified by inbreeding. As a result, many Somali cats had to have all their adult teeth removed. (Dental abscesses, especially below the gumline, can cause cats to stop eating, which often leads to hepatic lipidosis, a condition that's often deadly.) As of 2006, the CFA breed standard makes no mention of this, and breeders say[who?] they've made much progress in breeding out this unfortunate trait.
The Somali breed along with its parent breed the Abyssinian have been found to suffer from Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKDef), with around 5% of the breed carrying the defective gene. There is now a genetic test to identify this recessive disorder within the breed, and as such all breeding stock should be tested to ensure no more affected kittens need be produced.
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2009)|
- Edwards, Alan (2005) . The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Cats Cat Breeds & Cat Care. Trevor Turner (Consultant) John Daniels (Photographer). London: Hermes House. ISBN 0-7548-1277-4 9780754812777 Check
|isbn=value (help). OCLC 76934417.
- Black, Kathy. "The Somali Cat: 30 Years and Going Strong!". CFA. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- "The Somali: A Berry Lovely Cat". Cats and Kittens Magazine. 1998. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Fogle, Bruce (2001) . The Encyclopedia of the Cat: The Definitive Visual Guide. Dorling Kindersly Pr. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-4053-3490-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Somali (cat)|
- Kathy Black; The Somali Cat: 30 Years and Going Strong!
- CFA Somali Breed Profile
- Somali FAQ
- Somali cat club of Great Britain