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Subject: rec.pets.cats: Somalis Breed-FAQ

This article was archived around: 18 Apr 2006 04:29:42 GMT

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Archive-name: cats-faq/breeds/somalis Posting-frequency: 30 days URL: http://www.fanciers.com/breed-faqs/somali-faq.html Last-modified: 12 Mar 1997
All the cat breed faqs are available as ASCII files either on rec.pets.cats or via anon ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/new.answers/cats-faq/breeds/* They are also viewable on the World Wide Web at http://www.fanciers.com/breeds.html. Somali Breed FAQ _________________________________________________________________ _Author:_ Barbara French, Tarantara Cattery, USA, bcfnmp@ritvax.isc.rit.edu _Comments and Editing:_ Elina Laine, Bitterblues Somalis, Finland, ellaine@tre.tele.nokai.fi Copyright (c)1995 Barbara C. French, bcfnmp@ritvax.isc.rit.edu. All Rights Reserved. _________________________________________________________________ Table of Contents Physical Description Characteristics and Temperament Is This Breed for Me? Care and Training History Special Medical Concerns Famous Somalis Breeders _________________________________________________________________ Physical Description The Somali is a moderate-sized cat with soft, medium-length fur and a bushy tail which has sometimes earned the cat the nickname "fox cat". Somalis are also referred to as "longhaired Abyssinians", since Abyssinians are the "parent breed" of the Somali breed. Somalis are sweet-faced, lithe, muscular cats with an overall impression of alertness, intelligence and keen curiousity. A standing Somali should almost give the impression that it's standing on its toes. The best term for a Somali would be "moderate" -- medium hair, medium size, medium type (neither cobby nor svelte). Somalis are ticked cats. Each hair on their bodies has bands of darker color, sometimes as many as 10 or 12 in a Somali. The ticking is darker than the ground color, giving the impression of a gloss or shimmer to the cat. Although ticking is a type of tabby, the show-quality Somali has no stripes on its body. A pet-quality Somali may show some tabby striping on its legs, tail or throat. The ticking usually causes a darker shine of color along the cat's back and on the tip of its brushy tail, and gives the cat an exotic, wild look. Although the fur might look coarse, it's extremely soft, almost rabbit-like. Somalis have the tabby "M" on their foreheads, and display pencil-strokes of darker color drawn out from the corners of their eyes. As the darker color also rims their eyes, Somalis may look as if they're wearing eye liner. They usually have no white on them, other than white around their mouths and under their chins. White on other parts of their bodies is considered a disqualifying fault for the show-quality Somali. Somalis are accepted by all cat associations in four colors: ruddy, red, blue and fawn. The chart below will help decipher these colors. Somalis also have corresponding nose and paw leather colors, depending on the color of the cat. Color Class Color of cat Color of ticking Nose leather Ruddy Ruddy-red Black Tile red Red or sorrel Warm red Chocolate brown Rosy pink Blue Soft blue Slate blue Mauve Fawn Rose-beige Light cocoa brown Salmon They are accepted in some European associations in various silver tones, but as yet silvers are not accepted in the United States. Some European associations also accept sex-linked orange and tortiseshell. Somalis have gold or green eyes in all colors, with the more depth and richness of color the better. Some associations, such as the American Cat Association, also accept hazel. Females are smaller than males, weighing about 8-10 pounds on average as adults. Males are an average of 10-12 pounds as adults, although some may be larger. The Somali coat color develops slowly, and doesn't show its full, mature ticking and coloring until age 18 months. Kittens tend to be darker and less warm-colored than they will be in adulthood. Somalis generally have longer hair over their chests (the "ruff") and on their hindquarters (the "breeches"). Their tails are full and brushy, almost like that of a fox. _________________________________________________________________ Characteristics and Temperament Somalis are active, playful, interactive cats. Like their parent breed, the Abyssinians, Somalis seem to wake up every morning with a "to-do" list. They should be given plenty of room to run, lots of individual attention and play, and a variety of toys. Somalis seem happiest if kept with another cat of about their own activity level. Contrary to what some cat books say, though, Somalis do very well as indoor-only cats, provided that they are given plenty of room to run and play. Somalis are even-tempered and easy to handle. They are ideal cats for households with children, as they are quite gentle (provided the children do not abuse them). They also do well as in a "mixed pet" household, getting along well with other animals. Somalis are extremely affectionate and people-oriented -- "loves a party and all the guests", as one of my kitten buyers told me. They are also extremely inquisitive and clever, which may cause some trouble for the cat! An open door is as good as an invitation, as are garbage pails, windows and open drawers. Fortunately, they are also easy to train to use scratching posts. Like Abyssinians, Somalis are generally quiet cats, with soft voices they don't use a great deal. Somalis are adept communicators, but don't rely on their voices to do so. This can be frustrating for breeders, as a Somali female may have a "silent heat" (in heat but doesn't call). Buyers of pet Somali females should also be careful to have their female spayed as soon as she is old enough for this reason, so an inadvertant breeding doesn't take place. They also shed very little, less than many short-haired cats. They have two seasonal moults in spring and fall, but otherwise shed minimally throughout the year. _________________________________________________________________ Is This Breed for Me? If you want a cat which is playful and interactive, almost "dog-like" in this way, the Somali is a terrific breed. They are loving and affectionate and make wonderful companions. Many are avowed and devoted lap cats and are forever following "their" human around. If you're looking for all the beauty of the long hair without the fuss or shedding, the Somali is a good choice. (See Care and Training below). If you're looking for a breed that's good with children or to introduce into a multi-pet household, the Somali is a good choice. If you're looking for a cat which will spend a great deal of time snoozing peacefully instead of playing, or a placid cat with a great deal of quiet and refined dignity, the Somali is not the cat for you. I would not recommend a Somali for an elder who is frail, as any Somali owner will tell you that Somalis are very good at getting underfoot. _________________________________________________________________ Care and Training Somalis are intelligent but somewhat willful. Thus, training is done far better with rewards than with punishment. They can be trained easily to use a scratching post by heaping attention and pats on them whenever they use it. They can be trained to do simple tricks with relative ease, such as fetching and shaking hands. Somalis need little care to keep their coats in good condition. Their soft, silky hair requires little brushing, although most Somalis love the attention if brushing is viewed as affection time rather than a chore. They do not mat, although the longer fur around their hindquarters can sometimes mat if not brushed regularly. As stated before, they shed very little. Otherwise, good food, fresh water, regular vet-checkups, regular vaccinations and lots of love is all they need to thrive. _________________________________________________________________ History Where the longhaired gene came into the Abyssinian population is a a subject of speculation, but before the Somali breed began to be advanced in the late 1960s, longhaired kittens popped up in Abyssinian litters. These longhaired kittens, which couldn't be shown or used in a breeding program, were quietly neutered and given away or sold as pets. In the late 1960s in the United States, people taken with these longhaired "mistakes" began breeding these cats purposely and advancing that the breed become accepted for championship status. This was not the first advancement of this breed; a Somali was shown in Australia as early as 1965. By the late 1970s, the Somali was accepted by all North American cat associations for championship status. It has had slower acceptance in Europe; the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy), Great Britain's cat association, did not fully recognize the Somali for championship status until 1991. _________________________________________________________________ Special Medical Concerns The Somali is a remarkably hardy cat, with few associated health problems. Like many cats of all breeds and mixed breeds, Somali are prone to gingivitis. This condition should be monitored at annual veterinary visits (more often if a problem occurs). Feeding the cat a large portion of its diet as a high-quality dry food helps this problem. It has just been discovered that a few lines of Somali may be prone to a type of anemia called _auto immune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)_. If you have a Somali with anemia or anemia-like symptoms, , request a PCV blood test. This test is not usually done on a normal blood workup for cats, as AIHA is found much more commonly in dogs. The normal treatment for AIHA is steroid therapy. The problem is that the symptoms can be close to a fairly common cat disorder, _feline infectious anemia (FIA)_, which is treated with antibiotics. This is an inappropriate therapy for AIHA. Somalis are no more or less prone to FIA than any other cat. _________________________________________________________________ Famous Somalis A Somali named Liberty Valence can be seen on "Little Friskies" commercials in the United States. The first two Spots on _Star Trek: The Next Generation_ were red Somalis (one was Liberty Valence). A Somali graces the cover of the _Readers Digest Guide to Cats_ , and the cover of the box for the software _Morph_ . (Hint: The Somali is on the bottom). _________________________________________________________________ Breeders Since there are not many Somali breeders and there is often a high demand for these beautiful kittens, many Somali breeders have waiting lists. A pet-quality Somali kitten in the United States will generally cost about $400 US, a usual price for pet-quality kittens of many breeds. There are many Somali breeders who are available through electronic mail through the Fanciers Breeder Referral List.. (Take me to the list of Somali breeders now). Somali breeders are also listed in such magazines as _Cat Fancy, Cats_ and _Cat World._ Somali cats may also be available through Somali and Abyssinian Breed Rescue and Education (SABRE). Somalis rarely end up in shelters, but those few that do may find their way to SABRE and may be available. To date, all such rescues have been adult cats. For more information about SABRE and information about cats who may be available for adoption to an excellent home, consult the SABRE homepage, or e-mail contact Erin Miller. _________________________________________________________________ Somali FAQ Barbara C. French, bcfnmp@ritvax.isc.rit.edu Last updated: December 15, 1995