The History of the Somali

Ikati Rosie

Humble Beginnings

The Somali cat rose from humble beginnings as the unwanted longhaired Abyssinian in the 1950’s. The Abyssinian cat is a shorthaired breed and after much hard work to improve its characteristics by selectively mating unrelated cats, most Aby breeders were understandably puzzled by the occasional birth of a fuzzy, longhaired youngster in their purebred litters. To protect their reputations, most kept quiet if one of these unsuspected longhairs appeared. As a result, no one knows for certain how long these fuzzy anomalies had been showing up in other Aby litters around the world prior to their appearance in North America.

Although interest in breeding the longhaired Abys began at about the same time in the United States, Canada and Australia, U.S. breeders were the first to push for their acceptance and recognition as a new breed. Now a separate breed in its own right, the Somali cat is still best described as a longhaired Abyssinian.

In a short time, the Somali progressed from its humble origins as an unwanted recessive gene product to its cherished status among the “Cat Fancy” (the term describing those involved in breeding or showing cats). 

Somali breeders now reside across the entire United Sates, as well as in Europe, Japan and as mentioned, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Somali Appearance

Only a summary follows – the Somali show standards are readily available upon request. 

Somalis are basically tabbies, with their coat pattern being described as ticked or agouti; this is dominant to the other tabby coat patterns which are only expressed on the head in the form of pencilled lines such as the ‘M’ on the forehead and the ‘thumb print’ on the ears. For show purposes, tabby markings are not acceptable on any other part of the body.

The Somali coat is very soft, silky and is fine in texture with a dense undercoat. The longest hair is over the chest and hind quarters, and quite often they may have a gorgeous ruff surrounding the head. There are now a number of different coat colours, all may described as brilliant and warm.

Tawny (usual/ brown/ ruddy) is a deep orange brown similar to burnt sienna, ticked with black or dark brown. The undercoat, belly and insides of the legs are a paler orange brown. 

Ikati Griffin

Blue (the dilute of tawny) is a soft warm blue colour ticked with slate blue. The undercoat, belly and insides of the legs are a warm, creamy beige.

Ikati Blue

Cinnamon (red / sorrel - misleading - as the name implies that it is under the influence of the sex linked red gene) is a rich copper red ticked with chocolate. The undercoat, belly and insides of the legs are a deep apricot.

Ikati Farli

Fawn (the dilute of cinnamon) is best described as warm rosy mushroom pink ticked with antique rose. The undercoat, belly and insides of the legs are pinkish fawn.

Ikati Velvet Gold Mine

Chocolate (not often seen in Queensland) is a rich chocolate brown ticked with a deeper chocolate brown. The undercoat, belly and insides of the legs are pale chocolate.

Silver are particularly hard to breed as the standard requires a high grade silver with no beige tones or rufousing. The ticking may be any one of the accepted colours.

The Somali Temperament

Often described as natural show-offs and born clowns, Somali cats are extroverted, athletic, active and alert. Their remarkable intelligence, playful curiosity, affectionate nature and happy disposition make them particularly alluring and captivating as companions. They thrive on lots of attention, readily seek human company and demand to be treated as one of the family. They are also quiet and gentle, very self assured and easily adapt to homes with other pets.

Somalis also seem to love the company of dogs; do not be surprised to see them playing, grooming and cuddling with dogs – of all sizes!

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