Somali

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somali cat portrait
Meet the Somali cat, the fabulous feline with a wild side! Known for their stunning long, ticked fur resembling a mini wildcat, these mischievous and social furballs capture hearts everywhere.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, care, health concerns, history, and more!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMESomali
OTHER NAMESFox Cat, Long-Haired Abyssinian
ORIGINUnited States
HEIGHT9-10 inches
WEIGHT6-16 lbs
LIFESPAN12-16 years
COAT LENGTHLong
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
SOCIAL NEEDSHigh
ENERGY LEVELHigh
VOCAL LEVELLow
somali cat lying on the floor
Photo: grase/Getty Images

Appearance

The Somali cat breed is adored for its wild, fox-like appearance and stunning beauty. These delightful felines are medium to large in size, with adult males typically weighing between 9 to 16 pounds and females somewhat smaller at 6 to 12 pounds.

Taking a closer look, you’ll notice their muscular bodies, which carry a sense of distinct grace and agility. Balanced in proportion, their physique gives off an aura of strength without appearing bulky. It’s the Somali’s body that paves the way for their notorious playfulness and energy.

One look at a Somali cat and you can’t miss their bushy tails, often likened to a fluffy plume. These tails add a touch of charm to their overall appearance, swishing and waving in sync with their moods. Its length harmoniously balances with their bodies, creating an elegant silhouette.

Now, let’s talk about their heads. Somalis have a slightly rounded, wedge-shaped head that sits on a well-arched neck. Their ears are large, alert, and tufted, adding to their wild and playful characteristics. These ears are set as though they are continuing the lines of the wedge.

Arguably, one of the most captivating features of Somali cats are their eyes. They have almond-shaped eyes, usually brilliant green or gold, that are set well apart and express a piercing, almost hypnotic gaze. Their gaze is full of intelligence and curiosity, reflecting their adventurous spirit.

The expression on a Somali’s face is something truly special. It’s a combination of alert intelligence and an almost cheeky mischievousness, always looking like they’re planning their next playful pounce.

Last, but by no means least, is the Somali’s coat. Their fur, thick and full, is beautifully soft to the touch. Known for their unique “ticked” coat, each hair is banded with multiple colors. The coat can come in various shades such as ruddy, red, blue, and fawn. This color variation gives Somalis a warm, glowing appearance that’s simply stunning to behold.

somali cat looking out of a window
Photo: grase/Getty Images

Temperament

Somalis are known for their vibrant and engaging personality that sets them apart in the world of felines. They are often described as “the life of the party.” This is a cat breed that is full of zest and has an insatiable curiosity about the world around them.

With a Somali, there’s never a dull moment. These cats are incredibly playful and active. They love to indulge in games, whether it involves chasing a ball or engaging in a lively session of ‘catch-the-laser’. Their high energy levels and agile bodies make them natural athletes. They will leap, pounce, and zoom around your home with joyful abandon.

But don’t get the wrong idea. Somalis are not just all about play. These cats are quite conversationalists. They love to communicate with their human companions, often with a soft and pleasing voice. Whether they’re asking for a meal, seeking attention, or just expressing their views on life, Somalis are never shy about speaking their minds.

Despite their playful nature, Somalis also have a calm and gentle side. They enjoy moments of quiet companionship as much as they love a good play session. A Somali would be just as happy to curl up on your lap for a cuddle or sit beside you while you sip your morning coffee.

Somalis are highly intelligent cats, known for their problem-solving abilities. They can often figure out how to open doors or cabinets, especially if they suspect there might be treats hidden away. While their intelligence can sometimes manifest in mischievous ways, it’s also what makes them so engaging and entertaining.

Perhaps one of the most delightful characteristics of Somalis is their sociability. They thrive on interaction, both with humans and other pets. Somalis are known to get along well with children and are often a perfect fit for families. Their friendly and outgoing nature makes them excellent companions.

However, their social needs mean that Somalis don’t do well with being left alone for long periods. They crave attention and companionship and are happiest when they are part of the family’s daily activities.

In terms of their relationship with other pets, Somalis are generally sociable and adaptable. They can get along with other cats and even dogs, given proper introductions and socialization.

somali cat standing on a rock
Photo: Thomas Leirikh/Getty Images

Care

Grooming

Caring for a Somali’s delightful coat is a rewarding task, almost like a heart-to-heart chat with a dear friend. Their medium-length fur is stunningly soft and requires a gentle combing session once or twice a week to keep it detangled and shiny. Brushing your Somali not only helps to maintain their coat but also forms a bond of love and trust between you.

Remember to check their ears regularly, and clean them gently with a vet-recommended solution if they appear dirty. Dental hygiene is essential too, so brush their teeth weekly to prevent periodontal disease.

Exercise and Play

Somalis are the embodiment of playful elegance—they can turn even a simple piece of string into an Olympic event! They love to climb and explore, so providing a cat tree or scratching post will keep them entertained and help them stay fit.

Interactive play sessions with toys, such as lasers or feather wands, will not only keep your Somali physically active but will also engage their sharp mind. Always remember, a physically engaged Somali is a happy Somali!

Diet and Nutrition

Like you carefully select your meals to maintain your health, your Somali also needs a balanced and nutritious diet for their overall well-being. Although they can have a hearty appetite, portion control is important to prevent obesity.

A diet rich in high-quality protein, low in carbohydrates, and supplemented with vitamins and minerals is usually preferred. Remember to provide fresh water at all times, and feel free to consult with your vet to choose the best diet plan tailored to your Somali’s needs.

somali cat walking indoor
Photo: nelik/Getty Images

Health

Somalis typically enjoy a robust and hearty life with an average life expectancy of 12 to 16 years. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:

Gingivitis: This dental disease can lead to painful eating and tooth loss if not managed properly.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): HCM is a heart condition that may affect Somalis. Regular veterinary checks can help identify this condition early.

Renal Amyloidosis: This kidney disease is not common, but Somalis are more prone to it than most other breeds.

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKDef): This genetic disease can cause anemia in affected cats.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA can cause eventual blindness, but it’s not common in the breed.

To ensure your Somali leads a healthy and happy life, a balanced diet is paramount. Feed them high-quality cat food that meets their nutritional needs. Regular veterinary check-ups are a must to spot any potential health concerns early. Vaccinations play a vital role in preventing various feline diseases, so make sure your Somali’s shots are up to date.

Remember, every Somali is unique and may not have these specific health problems. Your feline friend relies on you for their health—your careful watch and timely care can help ensure they live a long and comfortable life. Life with a Somali is a journey of joy and companionship, and taking good care of your furry friend ensures you both enjoy this journey to the fullest.

somali catv sleeping in a box
Photo: Nataly Grase/Getty Images

History

The Somali breed is essentially a long-haired variant of the Abyssinian cat, one of the oldest known breeds. The appearance of the first long-haired Abyssinians was quite a surprise in the mid-twentieth century, as breeders were not expecting the result. The recessive gene responsible for the long hair was carried unnoticed for generations, and it finally made its spectacular debut.

The unique, fluffy ‘accidents’ were initially regarded as anomalies, but over time, their distinct charm started to garner attention. The long-haired kittens were named “Somalis,” in honor of Somalia, the neighboring country of Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia). Breeders worked devotedly to establish these fluffier versions as a separate breed, and their efforts bore fruit in the late 1970s.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) officially recognized the Somali cat breed in 1979, appreciating their vibrant coat, bushy tail, and expressive eyes. The Somali’s enchanting allure didn’t stop there; they continued to win hearts across the globe. The International Cat Association (TICA) also acknowledged the breed in the same year.

Since their recognition, the Somali’s popularity has been on an upward trajectory. Their playful nature, intelligence, and striking looks make them a favorite among cat enthusiasts worldwide.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines that describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breed standards are devised by breed clubs and recognized by various cat registries worldwide.

These standards provide detailed descriptions of the breed’s physical characteristics such as body shape, size, coat type and color, eye color and shape, ear placement, and tail length.

somali cat sitting and looking up
Photo: grase/Getty Images

FAQs

Is a Somali cat a good pet?

Absolutely! Somali cats are renowned for their playful, extroverted nature and their ability to get along well with people and other pets. They are intelligent, inquisitive, and love to explore their surroundings, keeping their owners entertained with their antics.

How rare is the Somali cat breed?

While not as common as some other breeds, Somali cats are not excessively rare. You may need to reach out to specialized breeders to find one, but their popularity has been gradually increasing, which means they are becoming more widely available.

What is the personality of a Somali cat?

Somali cats are often described as “fox-like” in their playful and curious nature. They are highly intelligent, lively, and social creatures that enjoy interactive play and mental stimulation. For a Somali, there is no greater joy than spending time and engaging in fun activities with their human companions.

Are Somali cats aggressive?

No, Somali cats are not typically aggressive. They are known for their friendly and gentle demeanor. Like any cat, a Somali may become agitated or defensive if they feel threatened or uncomfortable, but with proper socialization and care, they make peaceful and affectionate pets.

How do Somali cats interact with children or other pets?

Somali cats are a great addition to families with children or other pets. They are social and enjoy being part of family activities. Their playful, gentle, and patient nature makes them excellent companions for children. They also get along well with other cats and even friendly dogs if introduced properly.

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