Abyssinians look like they could have stepped out of the pages of history or, more specifically, off the walls of an ancient Egyptian tomb. They are one of the oldest cat breeds, but their exact origin is unknown. The earliest references we have to the breed discuss them as coming from Abyssinia, the former name for Ethiopia. Tabby, of course, is not a breed but a genetically determined color pattern. Many breeds have Tabby as an approved color. Ironically, the Abyssinian is a specific color type of Tabby that shows no distinct striping.
When two distinct breeds are crossed, the desired result is a healthy cat without many genetically linked health problems. Knowing about the two parent breeds will help you understand your kitten’s personality traits and health issues you’ll need to monitor. In the case of the Abyssinian Tabby cross, most breeds with the visible Tabby pattern will not be closely related to the Abyssinian.
The Abyssinian looks much like the cats depicted in Ancient Egypt’s art. Abyssinians are one of the few “ticked” breeds, with coats that have a salt-and-pepper appearance, much like the coat of a wild rabbit. Regardless of shade, the Aby’s ticked coat is warm and glowing. They have an ancient look, like historical cats from long-gone civilizations. Abyssinians grew in popularity through the Twentieth Century and continue to gain fans because of their beauty and playful personalities.
History Of The Abyssinian
The Abyssinian cat’s history is difficult to piece together. Although individual cats were imported and attributed to Ethiopia, then called Abyssinia, no written records connect the early Abyssinians to those imported cats. Some British Breeders believe the modern breed originated from crosses of native brown and silver Tabbies with British “Bunny” ticked cats. The most recent theory about the origin of the Abyssinian is based on genetic evidence that the breed originated in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean coast.
In Holland, a taxidermied exhibit Abyssinian is the earliest identifiable Aby. The stuffed cat dates back before 1834 and is labeled Patrie, Domestica India. Although the British refined the breed, colonists and merchants may have brought the earliest Abyssinians in the country after they acquired cats at seaports in Calcutta.
Tabby isn’t a breed but a color pattern, and there are different types of Tabby patterns. The Tabby patterns are associated with at least two and likely three unique loci. The three distinctive Tabby patterns are Mackerel, Classic, and Spotted. The fourth pattern is called the Abyssinian or ticked pattern and looks less like a classic striped cat but instead the sort of coat on a wild animal. Few breeds have the Ticked Tabby pattern, but Abyssinians and the closely related longhaired Somali cat breed both sports this particular color type. Technically, all Abys are Tabbies already, although Tabby cats can come from many breeds.
The Tabby Through History
As ubiquitous as the Tabby pattern is in modern cats, it did not exist until the Middle Ages. The genetic mutation responsible for the blotched or classic Tabby pattern, seen in eighty percent of modern cats, emerged during the Ottoman Empire, perhaps as early as the late thirteenth century. The word “tabby” comes from the al-Attabiyya quarter in Baghdad, which produced striped silk taffeta in the 1500s.
Abyssinian Tabby Mix
The Abyssinian’s light but athletic body type may breed true depending on what kind of cat she’s crossed with, but you’ll need to consider the particular individuals. Because of the extreme differences between his parent breeds’ types, an Abyssinian mix kitten may vary considerably in body type. His “look” will depend on which parent he takes after most.
Size & Appearance
An Abys Tabby mix’s appearance will vary based on what breed the Tabby side is of the mix. Abyssinians themselves are smaller cats than many other popular breeds. They range from six to twelve pounds and stand around a foot stall, although your mixed kitten’s appearance will vary based on his parents.
From the Abyssinian side, your blend will inherit a smoothly muscled, athletic body type of moderate frame. Current trends see show-type Abys becoming more svelte, but their graceful power remains. Your blend, regardless of her Tabby parent, should show some of this refinement and athleticism.
Because the only parent breed we’re sure of in this mix is the Abyssinian, we’ll focus on their temperament traits specifically. Abyssinians are people-oriented cats but like company on their terms. Your Aby cross will want to be where you are, but he’s not the cuddliest of companions unless it is his idea. Abyssinians are loyal to their people, and their intelligence makes them exciting companions.
Coat & Colors
If you cross a patterned Tabby with a ticked Abyssinian, the kitten will have the ticked gene. Being a heterozygous Tabby and ticked means the kitten should present with a ticked body but barred legs and tail. Short hair is dominant to long hair, so even if the Abyssinian is crossed with a Tabby Persian, she’ll have short hair.
With this blend, the base coat color will depend on the base color of both parents. Abyssinians have four recognized breed colors, and all are ticked. Their base coats can be ruddy, blue, cinnamon, or fawn. The ruddy variety is a burnt sienna color with black ticking over an orange-brown undercoat. In the ruddy, the tip of their tail and fur between their toes are also black, like their ticking. The cinnamon variety is a redder cat with brown ticking, brown tail, and paw fur. The blue is warm beige ticked with slate blue, which also graces his tail tip and hair between his paws. The fawn Abyssinian has a warm beige coat with light cocoa brown ticking, tail tips, and paw pad fur.
Because your blended kitten will have short hair that lies sleekly close to the body, you’ll be spared daily brushing, although you may choose to spend that time with your loving companion anyway. Abyssinians have basic grooming needs. Your blend’s coat should be short. As a seasonal shedder, your combination will need more attention twice a year during shedding seasons as the days grow longer and shorter. Bathing your Aby helps remove shed hair, but be sure to start washing her gently as a kitten, so she grows up knowing a bath is nothing to be afraid of.
Your Abyssinian Tabby blend can be brushed a few times per week and stay sleek for most of the year. Your mix may require daily coat care to handle the shedding during Spring and Fall. They’ll appreciate being combed gently to loosen shed hair, detangle any mats, and then brushed with a soft bristle brush. Brushing does stimulate oil production in the hair follicles and helps keep her skin healthy and coat glowing. Like all cats, they’ll need their nails trimmed, and you’ll need to brush their teeth to prevent periodontal disease.
Some people ask if tabby cats are hypoallergenic. This depends more on a kitty’s breed and is not impacted by coat pattern or color. Some Tabbies may be hypoallergenic, as some breeds produce less Fel d 1, the allergy-inducing protein that causes reactions in people.
Your Aby blend will appreciate plenty of hiding places and tucked-away spaces. Create designated areas for their food and water away from their litterbox. Household cleaners and electronics may pose a hazard to your feline companion. Your Aby Tabby blend’s athleticism needs a safe outlet, so plan to play with him daily. Providing cat trees and scratch toys will help him find appropriate ways to express his desire to climb and scratch.
Keep breakables safe, and even the highest shelves and tops of furniture may not be out of reach of their climbing and jumping abilities. Unless your blended kitten has a parent like the Persian or Ragdoll who prefers to stay low to the ground, you’ll need to leap-proof your home. Provide your Aby Tabby blend with his space in a lofty place or a tall cat tree. Female Abys tend to be more graceful than males, but any cat can push a glass vase off the highest shelf in a moment of mischief.
Your Abyssinian Tabby mix will inherit a healthy dose of athleticism from the Aby side. He will likely be an athlete, so make sure he has plenty of opportunities to stay fit. Lasers and wand toys keep him moving. If he’s getting sufficient exercise and time with you, separation will be easier for him to handle. Provide both chase toys and opportunities for your blend to climb and stretch. Any athletic mix will appreciate interactive toys like cat towers or wall steps that keep his mind and body exercised.
Common Training For Cats
- Use the scratching post or cat tree only.
- Keep claws retracted when playing with people.
- Eliminate only in the litter box.
- Biting is for toys only.
- Games and tricks.
- Standard commands like sit, stay, roll over, jump, high-five, play a game, time to eat, come here, etc.
- Familiarity with the grooming process.
- Familiarity with being bathed.
- Riding calmly in the car.
A blend of two varieties is typically healthy because any recessive breed-related genetic disorders aren’t expressed. Abyssinians are relatively healthy cats but do have some genetic predispositions. Ask your vet about the health problems common to her other breed. The most concerning, of course, are those shared by both breeds.
Feline Dental Disease
Any cat can develop dental disease, so be sure your blend’s teeth are cleaned regularly. If not removed periodically, the plaque that naturally builds up on your cat’s teeth will move below the gum line and cause gingivitis. The cat’s immune system attacks the bacteria in the plaque, and this causes inflammation. Left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis.
Unfortunately, periodontitis cannot be reversed. Once it develops, your cat may drool and tilt his head while eating to avoid pain on that side of his mouth. He may have chronic bad breath, also called halitosis. Clean your cat’s teeth before he develops any problems. Your veterinarian will show you how to brush your cat’s teeth with specially formulated feline toothpaste and set him up for regular cleanings.
Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
Abyssinians are susceptible to Pk deficiency, heritable hemolytic anemia caused by insufficient activity of that regulatory enzyme. Cats with Pk deficiency develop anemia. The anemia is intermittent, and the age at which cats start showing symptoms may vary. Symptoms include weight loss, jaundice, weakness, lethargy, and enlargement of the abdomen. The mutation responsible for the deficiency is found in significant frequency in Abyssinians. Genetic testing is available to see if a cat is affected or a carrier.
Several breeds have a higher incidence of this mutation. If your Aby blend’s Tabby parent is another high-risk breed, talk to your veterinarian to see what testing you should have done and in what time frame. Breeds with significant occurrence are not just the Abyssinian but the Bengal, Domestic Shorthair and Longhair, Egyptian Mau, La Perm, Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest, Savannah, Siberian, Singapura, and Somali cat.
Because Abyssinians mature physically by about eighteen months old, your mix may take longer to develop. His Tabby parent breed may be a slow-maturing breed, so consult your veterinarian about how long you should use food designed for kittens. Protein and fat levels should support slow, steady growth. Kittens need a specific calcium-phosphorus ratio for proper bone development. Look for a recipe with .8 to 1.6% calcium on a dry matter basis.
Your Aby Tabby needs plenty of fresh water to stay healthy. Some cats prefer fresh running water and will appreciate a fountain drinker. If she isn’t a good drinker and becomes prone to urinary tract infections, the additional moisture content of wet cat food can help reduce the frequency of her infections.
Any cat food you choose should meet the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards as a complete and balanced diet for your feline. In the wild, animal meat is the most significant part of the feline diet. Their diet should still be mainly animal meat, even in processed form. They consume high amounts of protein, moderate amounts of fat, and minimal carbohydrates.
Read the label no matter which type of food you choose, be it wet, dry, or fresh. Look for meat, meat by-products, or seafood among the first few ingredients. These ingredients suggest the food contains enough animal-source ingredients to supply essential amino acids and fatty acids without additional supplements. For cats prone to urinary tract issues, consider a low-magnesium wet food.
Breeders & Kitten Costs
Because this kitty is a mixed breed, the price of a kitten will often be much less than the cost of their purebred parent breeds. Although Abyssinians aren’t large, they are athletic and lithe. Be sure to err on the side of too large if your kittens’ Tabby parent is from a larger breed. You’ll need to budget for the upper range when you plan your kitten’s space and purchase cat trees or travel crates.
You may find a kitten free from a backyard or accidental breeder. Kittens will likely have had their first vet visit or their first round of vaccinations before they’re ready to come home with you. The owners may ask you to reimburse some of the veterinary costs, but you’ll also be able to start a relationship with a vet who has already met your kitten. A backyard breeder may not offer health guarantees, but they should be able to answer your questions.
Before bringing your kitten home, get the supplies you’ll need to take care of her. Have her litter box set up and your chosen kitten food available. You may wish to have a bed for her, a crate for transport, some toys, and grooming tools. If you don’t already have an established veterinarian, locate one for your kitten’s first vaccinations and a general wellness check. Expect to spend about $150 to $400 for your kitten and her supplies if you’re starting from scratch.
There may not be many breeders advertising these mixed kittens, but you can check with local online resources. If you have an Abyssinian breeder in your area, they may be able to steer you in the right direction. Your veterinarian may know of available kittens in your area and check local rescue and shelter pages regularly.
Rescues & Shelters
Check your local shelters regularly for Tabby kittens or cats with Abyssinian listed in the mix. Breeders will try to limit accidental litters because purebred Abyssinians bring high prices. From appearance alone, it will be difficult to tell if an unknown Tabby mixed breed is an Abyssinian blend because he’ll likely look like a regular Tabby.
Depending on your needs, you may find a kitten with the look and temperament to make you happy at the shelter. The Humane Society of the United States, your local shelter, and your veterinarian are reliable resources for finding reputable shelters and rescue groups. You can expect to pay a shelter fee of between $60 and $120.
Check your local shelters and rescue groups regularly to see if they have your new kitten. If you are willing to adopt an older cat, you’ll be able to meet him and get to know his mature personality. There are many advantages to adopting an adult cat. Most kittens are playful but settle as they approach adulthood, although Abyssinians and a blend with Aby traits tend to retain their youthful playfulness their entire lives.
If you have time and energy to spend with a new addition to your family and want a feline companion who adores being by your side, you’ll love an Aby Tabby blend. He will probably be an average-sized cat with grace and athletic ability. If his mix includes another highly trainable breed, you may even be able to teach him to walk with you on a leash. He’ll check on you frequently and be a highly interactive playmate.
Not only will regular play sessions help you bond with your Aby Tabby blend, but they will also help keep the youthful Aby side of his personality engaged. This beautifully marked blend could be your loyal companion for over fifteen years. Provide him with proper nutrition at each stage of his life, schedule him for regular veterinary care, and groom him at least twice a week. Watching your Abyssinian Tabby kitten’s unique personality blossom as he grows up with you will be an incredible journey.