A unique-looking cat – almost like something between a wild cat and a fox – the Somali has gained much popularity since the breed was founded in the 1960s. They are extroverted, athletic, active and alert, making them ideal companions for people who enjoy some active interaction with their cats.
The Somali breed was developed from the much older Abyssinian, a breed from Africa. The Abyssinian has been a popular breed of cat since she first graced the show bench in 1886.
During the 1960s fluffy kittens started appearing in Abyssinian litters in the USA. Most people gave them away, but one daring breeder decided to show one of these longhaired Abyssinians in the late 1960s. Judge Evelyn Mague surprised everyone by falling head over heels in love with the ‘April Fool’s’ cat. She insisted on purchasing her and other ‘longhaired Abyssinians’ and so founded the breed.
The Somali sports a ‘ticked’ or agouti coat – every individual hair has three to four bands of colour (for example: apricot, black, apricot, black), ending in a black tip. This gives the coat a hare-like appearance. The face has some tabby markings, and the tail tip is dark. A dark spine line is often apparent.
Somalis may be seen in up to 28 different colours. The most popular and original colour is the ruddy, where the coat is a deep apricot, tipped and ticked with black. The sorrel individual has an apricot undercoat with a chocolate ticking. Silver ones have a pure white coat, tipped and ticked with black, which creates the silver effect. In the other silver varieties, the colour of the ticking varies.
Hearts of angels
The Somali’s best feature is her delightful personality. The list goes on – they are intelligent, affectionate, adventurous, entertaining, water-loving, fastidious … you name it. The females are excellent mothers, to the point of adopting anything, even a hedgehog. There’s no doubt about it – Somalis are wild-looking beasts with the hearts of angels.
Text: Karen Pepler