Why are Somali Cats Called Somali? An In-Depth Exploration

To understand the name “Somali,” we must first explore the ancient roots of this breed. Somali cats are believed to have descended from the African wildcat, which roamed the deserts of Somalia, a country located in the Horn of Africa. These wildcats possessed a unique ticked coat pattern and a playful, agile nature, traits that have been passed down to their domesticated counterparts.

The Discovery and Recognition of the Somali Cat as a Breed

The Somali cat, as we know it today, didn’t come into the spotlight until the mid-20th century. It was in the 1960s when breeders noticed a few long-haired kittens appearing in Abyssinian litters. These kittens exhibited the same ticked coat pattern as their short-haired counterparts but with a luxurious, flowing coat.

Recognizing the potential of these long-haired Abyssinians, breeders began selectively breeding them to establish the Somali cat as a distinct breed. In 1979, the International Cat Association (TICA) officially recognized the Somali cat, solidifying its place in the world of feline breeds.

The Influence of Abyssinian Cats on the Somali Breed

The connection between Somali cats and Abyssinians is not just limited to their shared ancestry. In fact, Somali cats are considered a long-haired version of the Abyssinian breed. They share many similar characteristics, including their playful and affectionate nature.

The influence of Abyssinians can be seen in the physical appearance of Somali cats as well. Both breeds have a similar elegant body structure, with a lean and muscular build that exudes grace and agility.

Physical Characteristics of Somali Cats

The Somali Cat’s Unique Coat

One of the most distinguishing features of Somali cats is their stunning coat. The Somali’s coat is medium to long in length, with a thick undercoat that provides insulation and protection. The coat showcases a beautiful ticked pattern, with individual hairs banded with different colors. This gives the coat a warm, rustic appearance reminiscent of the African wildcat.

Elegant Body Structure and Size

Somali cats have a lean and muscular body, with a medium-sized frame that is well-balanced and proportionate. They possess a graceful gait, and their agile movements are a testament to their wildcat ancestry. Despite their slender appearance, Somali cats are surprisingly sturdy and strong.

Distinct Face and Eye Features

The face of a Somali cat is characterized by a slightly rounded muzzle and expressive almond-shaped eyes. Their eyes come in various shades of green, amber, or gold, and they are known for their intense gaze that reflects their intelligence and curiosity. The ears of Somali cats are medium-sized and slightly pointed, adding to their overall exotic appearance.

Personality and Temperament of Somali Cats

Playful and Energetic Nature

Somali cats are bundles of energy and are known for their playful and mischievous nature. They love interactive toys and games that challenge their agility and intelligence. Engaging with them in playtime activities is essential to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active.

Loyal and Affectionate Traits

While Somali cats may be full of energy, they are also incredibly affectionate and loyal towards their human companions. They form strong bonds with their families and enjoy being involved in their daily lives. Whether it’s curling up next to you on the couch or following you around the house, Somali cats crave human connection and thrive on love and attention.

Intelligence and Curiosity

Somali cats are highly intelligent creatures with an insatiable curiosity. They love exploring their surroundings and investigating every nook and cranny. Their intelligence makes them quick learners, and they can often be trained to perform tricks or respond to commands. Providing them with mental stimulation through puzzle toys and interactive games is an excellent way to keep their curious minds engaged.

Caring for Somali Cats: Health and Grooming

Common Health Issues and Concerns

Overall, Somali cats are a healthy breed. However, like any other cat breed, they are susceptible to certain health issues. These may include dental problems, kidney disease, and amyloidosis. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper dental care can help prevent or manage these potential health concerns.

Proper Grooming Techniques for Somali Cats

Maintaining the luxurious coat of a Somali cat requires regular grooming. While their coat doesn’t mat easily, it is essential to brush them at least once or twice a week to remove loose hair and prevent tangles. Additionally, occasional bathing can help keep their coat clean and shiny. Trimming their nails and cleaning their ears should also be a part of their grooming routine.

Recommended Diet and Exercise for Optimal Health

To ensure optimal health, Somali cats should be fed a high-quality, balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Providing them with a mix of wet and dry food can help keep their teeth healthy and prevent obesity. Regular exercise is crucial for Somali cats to maintain their muscle tone and prevent weight gain. Interactive play sessions and access to climbing structures can help keep them physically active.

Living with Somali Cats: Tips and Considerations

Creating a Stimulating Environment for Somali Cats

To keep Somali cats happy and content, it is essential to provide them with a stimulating environment. This can include scratching posts, climbing trees, puzzle toys, and window perches that allow them to observe the outside world. Creating vertical space for them to explore and play can add an extra layer of enrichment to their lives.

Training and Socialization Needs

Somali cats are intelligent and can be trained to respond to commands and perform tricks. Positive reinforcement training techniques work best with them. Additionally, early socialization is crucial to ensure they become well-adjusted and confident cats. Exposing them to different people, animals, and environments at a young age helps them develop into sociable and friendly felines.

Interacting with Other Pets and Children

Somali cats generally have a friendly and sociable nature, making them well-suited for households with other pets and children. However, proper introductions and supervision are vital to ensure positive interactions. Teaching children how to handle and play with cats gently is essential to prevent any accidental harm.

Breeding and Showing Somali Cats

Understanding Somali Cat Breeding Standards

Breeding Somali cats requires a thorough understanding of the breed standards set by cat associations. Breeders aim to produce kittens that adhere to these standards in terms of coat color, pattern, body structure, and temperament. Responsible breeders prioritize the health and well-being of their cats and work towards improving the breed.

Participating in Cat Shows with Somali Cats

For those interested in showcasing the beauty and elegance of Somali cats, participating in cat shows can be a rewarding experience. Cat shows provide an opportunity to present Somali cats to judges who evaluate them based on breed standards. It is a chance to celebrate the unique qualities of Somali cats and connect with fellow feline enthusiasts.


The name “Somali” invokes a sense of mystery and allure, much like the breed itself. From their ancient origins in the deserts of Somalia to their recognition as a breed, Somali cats have captured the hearts of cat lovers around the world. With their unique coat, elegant physique, playful nature, and loyal temperament, Somali cats bring joy and companionship to those fortunate enough to share their lives with them. Whether you are considering welcoming a Somali cat into your home or simply intrigued by their fascinating history and characteristics, exploring the world of Somali cats is an adventure worth embarking on.

ThePetFaq Team