Photo by © AnnZophi Pålsson

Somali - Breed Profile:

Origin: USA
Colors: Ruddy, red, blue, fawn
Size: Medium to large
Coat Type(s): Longhair
Grooming: Twice a week
Talkativeness: Quiet
Activity Level: Very high
Attention Requirement: High
Overall: Can be a handful

Physical characteristics

In a few words, the Somali looks like a longhair Abyssinian. Somalis, however, are larger than their Aby ancestors. Their graceful body is well-muscled and well-proportioned, with a strong and well-developed bone structure. The compact feet have an oval shape. The thick tails tapers slightly, it's neither too long nor short. The head shape is a rounded wedge with no flat planes. In profile, the nose has a noticeable stop at the eye level. The muzzle continues overall gentle lines and it is neither pointed nor flat. The large ears are alert and broad, their inner side has abundant furnishing. The almond shaped eyes are large and expressive. Dark lids surrounded by lighter areas make Somalis have a mesmeric look. Eye colour is usually green or gold. Each eye has a dark pencil line that continues from the upper lid toward the ears.
Adult males weigh 10 to 12 pounds, adult females weigh 6 to 10 pounds.

Temperament

Fans of the breed say that a Somali cat is probably the best home entertainment you can have in a feline appearance. These cats, as well as Abyssinians, are highly active, playful, lively, and vigorous. Even when they're in old age, they will most likely cavort like small kittens! Fanciers say the Somali have more than just a passing resemblance to the sly fox: Somalis know more ways to get into adorable mischief than a barrel of foxes. Beyond doubt, Somalis are extremely intelligent and smart, and they have a keen sense of cat humour. A fancier once shared a story about his Somali that loved to steal his toupee and show it off to visitors. Well, if you have a Somali cat, you must have sense of humour too. Fortunately, these cats are not vocal, so their hyperactivity won't result into hours of feline anecdotes. Unless there's an emergency such as empty food bowls, Somalis remain rather quiet.
Somali cats are also known for their courage and persistence. Once they are up to something, you had better give in and let them do it their way, otherwise be prepared for a battle. They do know how to make you forgive everything though: isn't it difficult to stay mad at a cat that head-presses and rubs against you in an ecstasy of delight with a lion-like purr?
Probably, you have already figured out that Somalis are very people-oriented cats, so do not leave them alone for too long a time. If you work much, you should either get a feline companion for your Somali, or choose another breed. Keeping in mind their energetic personality, unhappy Somalis aren't something you would like to deal with, are they?

Coat and grooming

The double coat of Somalis is not really longhair but rather semi-longhair. It's dense, thick, and very soft to the touch. The hair is slightly shorter over the shoulders. Often, Somalis have a neck ruff and britches. Twice a week grooming is required.
Generally, Somalis come in ruddy, red, blue or fawn colours which are always ticked. The red colour is also known as cinnamon or sorrel. Some associations (such as TICA) accept the breed is a large range of colours including silver, silver ruddy, silver red, silver blue and silver fawn.

Health

Like their Aby relatives, Somalis are naturally healthy are robust. However, they are more than other breeds prone to plaque, tartar buildup, tooth decay, and gingivitis. Brushing their teeth and a healthy diet can help prevent this.
Another health concern is the renal amyloidosis, a hereditary disease that can lead to kidney failure.

Other interesting facts

Even though the name can be misleading, the Somali cat was not originated in Somalia. Fanciers chose the name because Somalia borders Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), for which the Abyssinian was named.