With their long, silky coats resembling flowing corn silk and expressive fox-like faces, Somali cats never fail to capture admiring looks. This rare pedigreed feline originating from Somalia stands apart thanks to its captivating appearance and lively personality.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover facts about the Somali cat’s origins, physical features, temperament, care needs, pricing, and availability as pets. Whether you’re already smitten with this foxy breed or just learning about them, read on to uncover what makes the Somali cat so special.
Table of Contents
Breed Overview and Characteristics
The Somali descends from Abyssinian cats and shares their elegant wedge-shaped heads and large ears. But the Somali’s medium-long coat sets it apart. Distinctive features include:
- Medium length soft, fine, silky coat that lies close to the body. Almost a semi-long coat.
- “Ruddy” red, orange, fawn and silver-beige coat colors featuring dark contrasting ticking that resembles alternating bands.
- Large almond-shaped eyes that are vivid green in kittens, becoming gold, green or hazel in adults.
- Long, muscular yet graceful bodies with a full fluffy tail ideal for balance.
- Active, athletic cats that enjoy climbing and perching up high.
Their lustrous ticked coats give Somalis a refined yet wild look reminiscent of foxes. Now let’s delve into the history behind this breathtaking breed.
History and Origins of the Somali Cat Breed
The exotic Somali cat originated as a spontaneous longhaired variant of the Abyssinian cat occurring in litters:
- First longhaired kittens appeared in Abyssinian litters in the early 1900s. At the time, longhair was considered undesirable.
- Longhaired offspring continued cropping up. In the 1940s, a British Abyssinian breeder named Janet Robertson became intrigued. She began intentionally breeding the longhairs, believing their coat made them special.
- These longhaired cats became known as “Robertson cats.” Over time, the distinctive new breed became known as the Somali cat.
- Somalis earned recognition from cat registries in the 1970s. However, they remain quite rare with just thousands worldwide.
The chance longhaired mutation ended up producing a breathtaking breed full of appeal. Let’s look closer at the Somali’s luxurious coat.
The Somali Cat’s Distinctive Coat
The Somali’s semicoat lies close to the body and features:
- A fine, soft, almost silky texture compared to the coarser Abyssinian coat. Distinctly longhaired but not a long coat.
- Only 1-2 inches in length. Shortest at the neck and shoulders and longer along the spine and tail. The ruff and breeches exhibit fullness.
- Rich “Ruddy” earthy hues featuring ticking – alternating light and dark bands along each hair shaft resembling mink fur.
- Accepted colors include ruddy/cinnamon, red, blue and fawn always with ticking.
- Requires weekly grooming to prevent tangles and matting.
The Somali’s lush ticked coat resembles rippling wheat fields, contributing to their unique beauty. Now let’s explore their winning personalities.
Somali Cat Personality and Temperament
While stunning to look at, Somalis also enchant with their lively yet devoted dispositions:
- Extremely active, playful and curious into adulthood.
- Bond intensely with their chosen people. Lavish attention upon them.
- Tend to attach to one special person who they shadow devotedly.
- Intelligent and communicative. Enjoy “talking” with various vocalizations.
- Most adapt well to other calm pets when socialized young. Do best with another energetic cat companion.
- Confident, gentle and affectionate when properly handled.
- Many enjoy harness walks outdoors to satisfy their curiosity about the world.
Bred from athletic Abyssinians, the Somali inherited that energetic spirit. Provide ample play and interaction to keep these cats entertained. Proper care leads to long 15+ year lifespans.
Feeding Your Somali Cat
The active Somali cat thrives on a meat-focused feline diet:
- Feed a high-quality grain-free canned or raw diet. Ensure at least 40% of calories come from quality animal proteins.
- Canned food supports hydration. Supplement with nutritious freeze-dried raw pieces.
- Avoid corn, wheat, soy, byproducts, artificial preservatives and colors. These can trigger digestive issues in Somalis.
- Feed scheduled portioned meals based on age rather than free-feeding.
- Ensure access to clean, fresh water at all times. Consider adding a pet drinking fountain.
Provide proper nutrition to fuel this playful breed’s antics and keep their lush coat in top condition. Consult your veterinarian for exact diet advice tailored to your cat.
Somali Cat Health and Lifespan
Thanks to the hybrid vigor that comes from their mixed Abyssinian ancestry, Somalis represent generally a healthy, robust breed when properly cared for. Expect a lifespan of:
- 12 to 16 years on average – favorable compared to many purebreds.
- No serious inheritable diseases specific to the Somali breed given their diverse genetics.
- May be predisposed to gingivitis, some urinary tract issues, and digestive upset from foods not tolerated.
- Reputable breeders test parent cats for common genetic illnesses.
Provide excellent preventative and routine veterinary care to avoid health issues. Maintain annual exams, vaccinations, monthly parasite control, and follow-up to address any conditions early. Overall, Somalis have excellent long-term vitality.
Grooming Needs of the Somali
The Somali’s lush medium-long coat requires attentive regular grooming:
- Daily brushing with a stainless steel comb prevents mats, removes dead hair, and distributes skin oils for coat health. Work slowly and patiently.
- Bathe just when needed using a cat-safe hypoallergenic shampoo. Thoroughly dry coat afterwards to avoid matting.
- Nail trims every 2-3 weeks to avoid overgrowth and injury. Introduce handling their paws young.
- Ear cleaning once a week to remove debris and wax buildup. Use cotton balls and approved feline ear cleaner.
- Brush teeth regularly with a kitten-sized brush and cat toothpaste to prevent periodontal disease.
While high maintenance compared to shorthairs, regular grooming leaves the Somali coat sensationally soft and luminous.
Enriching Your Somali Cat’s Life
To keep this intelligent, energetic breed engaged:
- Provide puzzle feeders and interactive play that mimics hunting behaviors. Engage their instincts.
- Set up multi-level cat trees and shelves to climb and perch up high to survey their domain.
- Use leashes and harnesses to explore the outdoors under supervision. Many Somalis love adventure.
- Introduce new experiences slowly like climbing surfaces, cat grass, food puzzles. Rotate toys frequently to prevent boredom.
Daily exercise and mental stimulation is key for them to thrive indoors. An under-stimulated Somali often acts out with vocalization and destructive behaviors. Stay ahead of their needs.
Availability of Somali Kittens and Somali Cat Price
Given their elite status as a rare pedigree, Somali kittens are available but in very limited supply. Average somali cat pricerange $2000 to $5000 per kitten. Here are tips for finding one:
- Work with breeders registered with cat fancier associations like The International Cat Association (TICA) to locate reputable, responsible sources.
- Expect to join waitlists, sometimes years out. Litters are small for this uncommon breed.
- Breeders thoroughly vet potential buyers to ensure kittens are placed in ideal forever homes meeting the Somali’s needs.
- Some retired adult show Somalis may be available for adoption through breeders or breed-specific rescues.
While the process can be lengthy, welcoming one of these uncommon beauties into your life is supremely rewarding. Support responsible preservation efforts by sourcing your Somali ethically.
Similar Looking Breeds
Some comparable cat breeds share some noticeable similarities with the foxy Somali:
Abyssinian – The Somali’s shorthaired parent breed. Abyssinians exhibit the same ticked coat colors but in a short fine coat.
Ocicat – Has spots rather than ticking but a similar semi-long coat. Ocicats share the athletic Somali build.
Maine Coon – Also a longhaired breed with tufted paws. But Maine Coons have flowing uneven coats with longer fur.
Norwegian Forest Cat – Flaunts a long silky coat and fox-like face but sports tabby stripes instead of distinct ticking.
While no breed perfectly replicates the Somali, these cats have some comparable traits. The Somali remains in a league of its own!
Fun Facts About Somalis
To wrap up this complete guide to the beguiling Somali breed, here are some fascinating trivia tidbits:
- Early breeders named them “Somali” for their exotic fox-like appearance, reminiscent of the desert foxes found in Somalia.
- In the Cat Fanciers Association show ring, Somalis compete in the same class as their Abyssinian forebears.
- The ticked coat is believed to have originated from the wild felines of the Somali region in Africa, passed on to Abyssinian cats through natural selection.
- The Somali’s lush coat leads to higher grooming requirements than their shorthaired parent breed, the Abyssinian.
- The luxurious coat makes the Somali weigh up to 2 pounds heavier than the average Abyssinian.
- Somalis are slow to mature – not reaching full coat length, color or stats until age 3-5. But lifespan averages 15 years.
The exotic Somali remains one of the more rare and distinctive pedigreed cats. But their rising popularity indicates their fan base continues to grow.
Frequently Asked Questions About Somali Cats
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about sharing your home with one of these glamorous cats:
How expensive are Somali cat adoptions?
As an uncommon pedigree, Somalis range $2000 to $5000 per kitten. Adults may be under $1000. The premium price reflects their rarity and cuidados breeding.
Are Somalis good pets for apartments?
While energetic, if provided ample play time and cat towers for climbing, Somalis can thrive in apartments. Ensure they get daily activity and enrichment. Another cat companion is ideal.
Do Somalis get along well with dogs and kids?
Early socialization and proper introductions help Somalis learn to tolerate respectful dogs and gentle kids. Always supervise interactions until the pets are fully comfortable together.
Are Somalis intelligent cats?
Yes, the Somali is considered a highly intelligent breed. Their inquisitive nature and ability to learn cues and tricks quickly reflects their smarts and attentiveness.
Are male or female Somalis more affectionate?
Both male and female Somalis are deeply affectionate and attached once bonded with their chosen person or family. Either gender makes an ideal loving companion.
I hope this guide has offered a comprehensive introduction to the alluring Somali! Let me know if any other questions arise as you consider welcoming one of these special kitties into your home. To learn about some grey tabby cousins, check out this guide. You may also enjoy reading up on The Sokoke Cat – a rare African wildcat breed.
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