Somali Cat: Breed Information, Origin and Health

The Somali cat is playful and active. They enjoy being around other people and with other cats. They have often been described as “a long-haired African cat.” If you’re looking for a long-haired version of the Abyssinian cat, you should consider the Somali breed. 

The Somali cat is a relative of the Abyssinian cat. When the Abyssinian cat was brought into Great Britain, it was bred with cats that shared similar physical traits. Some kittens had longer fur than the Abyssinian kittens. Cat owners fell in love with these kittens, and soon they became a popular breed. 


Quick facts about the Somali

Weight: 6 to 10 pounds Height: 7 to 11 inches
Life span: 11 to 16 years
Intelligence: high Temperament: social | brave
Playfulness: high Activity level: hyper
Vocalness: when necessary Coat length: long
Shedding amount: normal
Good with: kids | seniors | dogs | other cats | families
Traits: The Somali cat is an affectionate breed that is easy to train and requires lots of grooming. They are friendly to humans, other pets, and strangers.

Like the Abyssinian cat, the Somali is an active and social feline. They love to jump and play around. So they are better suited to a house that has a lot of space to move around. You also might want to get some trees and high jumps for them to climb. 

Somali cats will also love a home that has other cats and dogs for companions. Having feline companions will keep them company when their humans are out of the house. This feline is highly intelligent, which makes them smart enough to avoid toddlers and small children. The Somali cat is better suited to a home that has school-age children. 

This Somali feline can spend hours playing with their toys and their companions. This will keep them active and in shape. They also enjoy some gentle play with their humans. Active play will help this breed keep its weight under control. 


The Somali cat looks very similar to the Abyssinian breed. This is because the Somali breed is the product of the recessive gene in the Abyssinian cat. They both have triangular heads with big ears and big slanted eyes. Their ears will tilt forward when they are on high alert and when they’re paying attention. 

Unlike the Abyssinian, the Somali breed has big fluffs of hair in their ears. Their fur coat is smooth and slightly longer than the Abyssinian’s coat. They also have a fluffy tail that looks like a fox’s tail. This is why the Somali is called a “fox cat.” 

The Somali’s coloring is truly unique. Most of the feline’s fur has bits of color of individual strands of hair. The fur on the spine is darker than the fur on the rest of the body is softer and lighter. 

Even though the Somali’s cat coat is longer, it’s still easy to care for. All you need to do is give their coat a daily brush during playtime. This will keep their coat silky smooth and soft. Your tender loving care will be rewarded with their grateful purrs. 


United States


Dr. Adedapo Adisa:

Nicknamed the fox cat or long-haired Abyssinian, the Somali cats are characterized by their muscular appearance and energetic personalities, seen as good climbers. With a life expectancy between 10-18 years, the Somali cats have a good health status.

Despite their long life expectancy and good health status, Somali cats have some genetic health issues. These inherited conditions are passed along to kittens from parents who have been carriers of the defective gene. 

Notable amongst the Inherited medical conditions associated with the Somali breed is a blood-related disease known as pyruvate kinase deficiency. The other known condition affecting the eyes of the Somali cats is progressive retinal atrophy.

Pyruvate kinase deficiency is an inherited health condition seen in Somali cats caused by a mutated gene, leading to the deficiency of an energy regulatory enzyme called pyruvate kinase.  

A lack of this enzyme, pyruvate kinase, affects red blood cell production, function, and even red cell death because of the inadequate energy needed by the red cells, which progress Into hemolytic anemia in the Somali cats. 

Some common signs to watch out for in the Somali cats with pyruvate kinase deficiency include; 

● Increased breathing.

● Jaundice or yellowing of skin or eyes.

● The pale mucous membrane of the eyes or gums.

● Increased splenic size on examination.

● General weakness and intolerance for activities.

When any of these signs have been observed in the Somali cats, it is essential to immediately reach out to your Veterinarian.

The Veterinarian may want to screen out other medical conditions that mimic pyruvate kinase deficiency symptoms through diagnostic tests and create a management plan for this condition in Somali cats.

Because there is no known treatment for pyruvate kinase deficiency in Somali cats, it is important to run a DNA screening for the defective gene. If found to be present, the cat must be removed from breeding programs.

Another inherited disease in the Somali cat is progressive retinal atrophy. In this condition, the defective gene causes a degeneration of the thin layer retina, which houses the photoreceptors (rods and cones).

The photoreceptors are responsible for forming an efficient vision in the Somali cats and are housed in the retina. The degeneration of the retina causes the photoreceptors to degenerate as well, leading to impaired vision or complete loss of sight in the Somali cats.

Signs that might be observed in Somali cats with progressive retinal atrophy are;

● Partial loss of sight in the cats.

● Cats can bump into or hit stationary objects while walking.

● The cat may appear uncomfortable in rooms with dim light.

● Loss of night vision.

● Pupils would dilate more than usual.

It is important to report to your veterinarian if any of these signs have been noticed in the Somali cats. Your Veterinarian would conduct an eye examination to make a diagnosis and prove a treatment line in affected Somali cats.

For breeders, it is essential to screen Somali cats regularly for the mutant gene causing progressive retinal atrophy via a DNA test to identify and prevent them from undergoing further breeding activities.

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