Somali cats might stem from mysterious origins, but they're the ideal family pet in today's world. Warm, welcoming, and always on the move, they're far from the typical house cat cowering in a corner. Loved for their vibrant nature, stunning coat, and ease of care, there's more to these friendly felines than meets the eye. Understanding your Somali cat will help you better provide for their needs and make this playful pet into a companion for life.
Somali cats are a breed all their own, but they started out as a recessive gene in the Abyssinian. At first, long-haired kittens were dismissed as show cats because they were viewed as less valuable than their Abyssinian counterparts. They were shuttered off as pets instead, and they were just so darn loveable that the breed stuck. While experts are unsure who, why, and how the long-haired gene was introduced in the first place, Somalis weren't established as a separate breed until 1979, and it wasn't until 1991 that their popularity skyrocketed internationally.
Believe it or not, the Somali cat doesn't actually come from Somalia. The name was chosen due to the Abyssinian connection since Somalia borders Abyssinia, now known as modern-day Ethiopia. Just like the recessive gene links the two breeds together, so does the name. The mystery surrounding the cat's beginnings is part of the intrigue; experts still debate how the gene spread so rapidly.
Somali cats are stunning to look at, with four primary coat colors in countless combinations of blue, fawn, ruddy, and red. They're medium-sized creatures that weigh between 6-10 pounds, and they've got enlarged almond eyes in intense green or copper and large pointed ears. Their coats are similar to the Abyssinian cats they stem from; they're essentially long-haired Abyssinians with thick fur that alternates color from root to tip. Their bushy tails have earned them an adorable nickname: the "fox cat."
The Somali isn't for you if you're seeking a docile pet that rests on your lap all day. These cats are gregarious and social, always active, and constantly seeking your attention. They love being the stars of the show, but they're also incredibly loyal and won't stop following you around; alone time isn't a thing with Somalis. Once they learn a new game, they never stop playing, so they tend to get stuck on certain games or puzzles the same way people do. Whatever you do, they'll be trying to help, and they love exploring and learning new tricks.
Somali cats are the ultimate extroverts. They're incredibly social, thrive in the company of both humans and animals, and despise being alone. Whenever you leave, their separation anxiety increases, so they'll race for the door as soon as you enter the room. They get along with just about anyone and love making new friends, and they're especially great with young children due to their playfulness, energy, and love for attention. Even strangers and dogs are potential friends to Somalis, who won't hesitate to show their affection.
Agile and active, the Somali cat loves being the center of attention at all times. They're an involved breed that's both rambunctious and intelligent, so constant stimulation is the name of the game. Exercise is vital, so you'll notice your cat is constantly on the move. When humans or other pets are unavailable, they'll delve deep into puzzles, interactive toys, running around the house, or scratching a post to keep themselves occupied; they get bored and lonely easily when others aren't around. You'll need to constantly play and spend significant bonding time with Somalis to keep them satisfied.
Somalis can't stop climbing, so stock up on vertical space. From shelves and hammocks to cat trees that reach ceiling height, these cats love to adventure. They'll often find themselves reaching the highest area they can find, whether that's on top of your bedroom door or your fridge. Since they live for heights, find sky-high perches to keep your cat pleased.
Long fur requires routine brushing, and with Somalis, that's a daily activity. These long-haired felines shed their silky fur on the regular and even more during the summer months when they leave their heavier coats behind. Comb your cat daily to prevent that fur from falling all over your house. In addition, Somalis require the same care every cat requires: regular claw trimmings and ear cleanings. Their ease of care is just another part of their appeal. As long as these cats have their basic needs covered, they'll be vibrant, happy, and ready to play.
The Somali cat's active lifestyle contributes to lifelong wellness, and they're a healthy breed overall. Some health risks still come into play, however. Somalis are at risk for common issues all cats face as they age, including arthritis, kidney, heart, and periodontal disease, so make biannual vet visits a priority and stay on top of grooming and dental care. Pyruvate kinase deficiency causes anemia, and it's an inherited disease Somalis are at higher risk for due to their genetic link to Abyssinians.
While the Somali's coat features four primary colors, some breeders focus on distinct colors and variations. While these might be rare, you can find Somalis in shades of lilac, silver, cinnamon, chocolate, and even turquoise. Somalis are with you for the long haul; they live between 11 to 16 years and generally remain active and in good health until their dying day.
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