The Somali cat comes from the Abyssinian cat. As a result, it shares numerous characteristics with its counterpart, with excellent examples ranging from its curiosity to its energetic nature. However, while the two breeds might be very similar when it comes to their behavior, the Somali cat has a very distinct look created by its longer-haired coat, which is actually the trait that prompted its development in the first place. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Somali cat:
1. Isn’t Somali
Given their name, there are a lot of people who would expect the Somali cat to have come from Somalia. However, this is not the case. Instead, the Somali cat can be said to have started out in a number of English-speaking countries.
2. Is Named for Somalia
With that said, the Somali cat is indeed named for Somalia. To be exact, it is named as a reference to the Ethiopian-Somali conflict, which has persisted into the present because the British handed a contested region in its colonial holdings to Ethiopia with little regard to what the Somali thought about it. This is relevant because the Somali cat comes from the Abyssinian cat.
3. Bred from the Abyssinian Cat
In short, the Abyssinian cat is a British cat, but it is said to have come from cats from Abyssinia, which was a name for the Ethiopian Empire. The Somali cat was named thus because of the namer’s belief that the distinction between the Somali cat and the Abyssinian cat was nothing more than a human creation in the same sense as the borders between Somalia and Ethiopia.
4. Used to Be Looked Down by Abyssinian Breeders
This choice was prompted to some extent by the fact that Abyssinian breeders used to look down on Somali cats, which have longer hair than their Abyssinian counterparts. Suffice to say that some Abyssinian breeders were appalled by this difference, which is why they were less than enthusiastic about the breed that came from the long-haired Abyssinian cats.
5. Received a Boost from Evelyn Mague
Speaking of which, the woman who named the Somali cat was named Evelyn Mague. She wasn’t the first one to breed long-haired Abyssinian cats, but she nonetheless had an important role in the development of the Somali cat because she issued a call to find other long-haired Abyssinian cats for hers to breed with. As it turned out, there were other Abyssinian breeders who found the long-haired Abyssinian cats to be interesting rather than appalling, which is how the development of the Somali cat started up.
6. Wasn’t Accepted on an International Basis Until the 1990s
With that said, it took some time for the Somali cat to become accepted throughout most of the world, seeing as how that didn’t happen until the 1990s. Even then, there were still some holdouts, though to be fair, recognition of new breeds of domesticated animals is something that can take a lot of time to complete.
7. Sometimes Called a Fox Cat
Sometimes, interested individuals might hear the Somali cat being called the Fox Cat. This nickname is based on a number of its physical characteristics, with examples ranging from the bushiness of its tail to the pointedness of its large ears.
Some cats can be pretty lazy. However, the Somali cat tends not to be one of them. Instead, Somali cats tend to have a rather curious nature, which is why they are interested in exploring new places either on their own or in the company of their owners.
9. Can Be Taught to Walk on a Leash
Most cats can be taught to walk on a leash. However, there are a lot of cats who will never be comfortable with the experience, whereas others are much more receptive to it. The Somali cat tends to fall into the latter group, so much so that they can be quite comfortable while doing so.
10. Likes to Climb
Given their energetic nature, it should come as no surprise to learn that Somali cats can benefit a lot from having a wide range of cat toys to play with. In particular, Somali cat owners should consider cat trees because they are avid climbers. Luckily, Somali cats tend to be pretty graceful as well, which is a trait that pairs well with their love of heights.