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Abyssinian cat breed profile

Abyssinian cats will likely enjoy food puzzles or cat trees.

Whether your cat is a purebred Abyssinian, or an Abyssinian mix, learning about this breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. 

Abyssinian cats, also called Abys, are known to be independent and curious but still love occasionally snuggling. If you’re an Abyssinian pet parent (or a future one!), there are some things you should know to make sure they’re living their best life. 

How big is the average Abyssinian? 

At an average size of 12 to 16 inches long, Abyssinian cats normally weigh between 8 to 12 pounds. But it usually takes them 12 to 18 months to mature to that size.

Abyssinian cat colors

Despite having a thick coat, Abyssinian's short, smooth hair doesn't typically shed. What makes them even more unique is their coloring, which varies between ruddy, red, blue and fawn.

Abyssinian cat personality

“Abyssinians are very intelligent and curious,” Dr. McCullough explains. “They also jump and climb and like to stay active. Food puzzles and cat trees would be good additions to an Abyssian’s home.”

These cats are usually independent but won’t turn down the opportunity to cuddle, she adds. And if your family has other cats or dogs, you should know that Abyssinians typically get along well with other pets and people — including children. 

“Always teach children how to properly handle cats, read their body language cues and respect their boundaries,” she encourages. 

RELATED: LaPerm cat breed profile

What are common health issues that affect Abyssinian cats? 

There are some common health issues that Abyssinian cats are predisposed to. So if you welcome this cat breed into your life, you’ll want to talk to your veterinarian about the following health conditions: 

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease, for one, is a serious mouth infection that can damage the gums and jawbone and lead to tooth loss if left untreated. The symptoms of this condition are gingivitis, bad breath, excessive drooling, dropping food and bloody colored saliva, Dr. McCullough says. 

A veterinarian can recommend the right treatment plan for a cat with periodontal disease. However, there are some standard treatment options. 

“Treatment for periodontal disease includes a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment, also called a COHAT, performed under anesthesia. These involve a tooth scaling, which is the removal of plaque and tartar, tooth polishing, thorough oral examination, dental X-rays and treatment for diseased teeth,” she explains. 

Hyperesthesia syndrome

Hyperesthesia syndrome is when a cat’s skin is extremely sensitive, usually along the back and the base of the tail. Some telltale signs your pet has hyperesthesia syndrome include: 

  • Changes in behavior, like aggression, running or jumping and sometimes hallucination-like actions
  • Tail biting
  • Flanking legs or back
  • Increased vocalizations
  • Paddling
  • Peeing outside of the litter box
  • A rippling motion along the back while being petted or groomed 

Patellar luxation

Sometimes, cat’s kneecaps can shift out of place — this is called a patellar luxation. Understandably, this condition can cause cats to intermittently limp, but oftentimes, pets don’t show symptoms at all, Dr. McCullough says.

Treatment for patellar luxation depends on the severity of a cat’s condition. “In some cases, treatment isn’t necessary and in others, surgery is required,” she adds. “Often surgery is reserved for severely affected cats that can’t be managed with pain medication, physical therapy, weight loss, exercise restriction and joint supplements.”

Progressive retinal atrophy

When a cat’s retina, which is the part of their eye that detects light, begins to waste away, they have progressive retinal atrophy, Dr. McCullough explains. The symptoms of progressive retinal atrophy include loss of vision and dilated pupils. However, this condition progresses slowly, so pet parents may not be aware that their cat has progressive retinal atrophy until later in their condition. 

Renal amyloidosis

Renal amyloidosis is a hereditary disorder that can cause kidney disease (and sometimes kidney failure) in cats. The symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and a distended abdomen in cats, Dr. McCullough says. 

Unfortunately, there’s no real treatment for renal amyloidosis. However, your veterinarian will likely recommend therapy to manage any complications associated with the condition. 

Start working with your veterinarian as soon as you get your cat to develop a preventive care plan to ensure your cat always has the best care. 

Adopting an Abyssinian

Are you interested in adopting an Abyssinian, Abyssinian mix or any pet at all? We think every pet deserves a home and encourage you to check out our shelter partners. And if you have other cats, be sure to read our article about safely introducing new cats to your cats at home.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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