When you see the Somali cat with its silky fur, you might expect it to be perched on velvet cushions throughout the day and being courted by its human. Wrong thought: Somali cats are real action athletes who love to romp, climb and play. Due to this high urge to move, Somalis need above all a lot of space and activity. Unlike in the English-speaking world, the aesthetic velvet paw with the engaging, lively manner is still a relatively exotic phenomenon in this country.
Somali Cat: Character
If you don’t mind being followed at every turn, the Somali makes an ideal housemate. The intelligent and very knowledge-thirsty animals always want to be part of the game – nothing escapes them. As solo cats, Somalis are uncomfortable. There should be someone in the house to fight and cuddle with, although the Somali can show dominant tendencies. Littermates are therefore ideal as an equal cat team. Despite their affection, the Somali is not really a lap cat. She is quite cuddly towards her people but reacts just as jealously if she sees her position in the household in danger. Somalis can be educated, have a quick mind, and have a relatively high-stress tolerance for cats.
Keeping and caring for the Somali cat
Somalis are active and clever cats that need physical and mental exercise. An extra robust scratching post and turbulent play units are just as important as stimulating intelligence toys. Since the velvet paws have an extremely high urge to move, they are not suitable for pure housing. Rather, they should have the opportunity to exercise outdoors in a safe environment. The Somali is not suitable for a household in which she is left alone for a long time during the day. Smaller pets such as ornamental birds or aquarium fish should not be left unsupervised in the same room with the Somali cat. However, peaceful coexistence with a dog is possible with careful acclimatization.
The care of the semi-long, silky cat fur is unproblematic. Daily brushing and checking for parasites that the cat might catch when outdoors are all that is needed.
Somalis have a higher predisposition to metabolic diseases and a retinal disease that can lead to blindness. If you are purchasing a Somali kitten, check with the breeder to ensure that none of the parent cats have a history.
Colors of the Somali Cat
Somalis come in four recognized coat colors, whereby the “ticking” – a banding of the individual hairs, each with a dark tip – characterizes the color impression: cream (fawn), blue-grey (steel-colored ticking), agouti colors (apricot with black ticking, has an overall effect brown) and cinnamon (reddish hair with black ticking). Color variations such as lilac or chocolate do occur but do not conform to the breed standard. Somali cats do not have markings or coat markings.
By the way: The final color development only becomes apparent when the animals are about two years old.
The History of the Somali Cat
When breeding short-haired cat breeds, there are occasional “runaways”. In the 1960s, however, long-haired kittens appeared in Abyssinian breeds in the USA with striking frequency. As it turned out, the affected lines all traced back to a British tomcat who appeared to have introduced a covert genetic trait into the gene pool. In the 1970s, breeders began specifically breeding with the “long-furred” Abyssinians. This is how the Somali cat became established, named after the African country neighboring Ethiopia (Abyssinia). Since the early 1980s, Somali has also been recognized as a breed by European associations.
Distinctive features of the Somali cat
Especially in the winter fur, many adult Somalis form a ruff and panties, which gives the animals an even more imposing appearance. Also striking is the bushy tail, which resembles that of a fox and earned it the trivial name “fox cat”.