Country of origin:
The Somali is a long-haired Abyssinian cat. The breed appeared spontaneously in the 1950s from Abyssinian breeding programs when a number of Abyssinian kittens were born with bottle-brush tails and long fluffy coats. Abyssinians and Somalis share the same personality (active, intelligent, playful, curious) and appearance. The only difference between them is the fur length and therefore the amount of grooming required. Unlike most long-haired cats, Somalis shed very little excess hair. Their coat is generally shed en masse, or "blown", once or twice a year, rather than constantly shedding like a Persian or other long-haired cat.
They are smart and lively, but also alert and curious. They are freedom-loving and must have plenty of room to roam and explore. They are best kept indoors or in outside runs for their own safety.
Colors and Patterns
The essence of the Somali cat is ticking - each hair is ticked multiple times in two colours. The Usual or Ruddy Somali is golden brown ticked with black. There are 28 colours of Somali in total (some organisations accept only some of these colours). All organisations accept Somalis in usual/ruddy, sorrel/red, blue, and fawn. Most clubs recognise usual/ruddy silver, sorrel/red silver, blue silver, and fawn silver. Other colours that may be accepted include chocolate, lilac, red, cream, usual-tortie, sorrel-tortie, blue-tortie, fawn-tortie, chocolate-tortie, lilac-tortie, and silver variants of all the above colours.
In the 1990s, many purebred Somalis had significant dental problems due to congenital problems magnified by inbreeding. As a result, many Somali cats had to have all their adult teeth removed. (Dental abscesses, especially below the gumline, can cause cats to stop eating, which often leads to hepatic lipidosis, a condition that's often deadly.) As of 2006, the CFA breed standard makes no mention of this, and breeders say they've made much progress in breeding out this unfortunate trait.
The Somali breed along with its parent breed the Abyssinian have been found to suffer from Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKDef), with around 5% of the breed carrying the defective gene. There is now a genetic test to identify this recessive disorder within the breed, and as such all breeding stock should be tested to ensure no more affected kittens need be produced.
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