Abyssinian - breed information and advice

The Abyssinian is never happier than when in human company, and it is surprisingly comfortable with dogs too, despite its cautious streak. This elegant cat has a distinctively shaped head and wide-set ears, but its personality is more boisterous than its regal bearing suggests. Lively games and plenty of interactive play will keep this intelligent and curious breed content.
To ensure your Abyssinian cat is protected in the case of an emergency, take a look at our cat insurance policies.

Breed information


Colour: A warm golden-brown Abyssinian with black markings is classed as ‘usual’. There are other colours too though, such as chocolate, sorrel (a rich cinnamon), blue, lilac and fawn.

Coat: Short, requiring only the occasional brush.

Life span: Up to 15 years is common, with adult Abyssinians retaining their playful personality.

Mouth and gum disease

Like most breeds, Abyssinians may suffer from gum and dental disease during their lifetime. Gum disease occurs when some (or all) of a tooth’s deep supporting structures become inflamed. This begins when food, bacteria and minerals accumulate along the gum line, leading to the build-up of a brown scale known as tartar. When this undermines the gum the condition is called gingivitis. Eventually, small spaces can form between the gums and the teeth creating pockets of space for bacteria to grow, resulting in what is known as periodontal disease. The bacteria from infected gums can spread around the body and damage the liver and kidneys. This condition can be prevented with basic routine care such as feeding cats dry food and brushing their teeth, helping them to lead a normal, pain-free life.


In our experience, Abyssinians are most likely to need treatment for mouth problems

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Infections and abscesses

Infections are caused by viruses and bacteria and can be transferred from cat to cat through bite wounds. When cats fight (which is common outside of their normal social group) they often bite each other, transferring harmful viruses and bacteria into the soft tissue, which can become infected. Puncture wounds are often not obvious, but can result in fever and lethargy. Antibiotics, pain relief and sometimes lancing of the abscess is required to resolve the infection. Viral infections such as feline leukaemia and FIV (cat AIDS) are not curable, although feline leukaemia is easily prevented by a simple vaccination.

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Feline asthma

Abyssinians, like other cats, can suffer from problems in the lower respiratory tract (the trachea and the lungs). Feline asthma, for example, occurs when allergies and irritants cause the lower airways (bronchi) and lungs to become inflamed and sensitive. Symptoms include coughing and wheezing. While asthma is not curable, it is manageable with various long-term medications including tablets, injections and even inhalers.


Respiratory problems are the third most common illnesses we see in Abyssinians

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Gastrointestinal tract disorders

The Abyssinian, like all cats, can suffer from problems affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a long, winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus, with various twists and turns along the way. Conditions such as gastroenteritis caused by infections (like feline enteritis), poisoning or an obstruction within the bowel (due to the cat eating string, for example) commonly cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Treatment depends on the exact cause, but prompt intervention usually results in a full recovery.


Gastrointestinal disorders are the second most common illnesses we see in Abyssinians

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Kidney disease

Cats’ kidneys are responsible for filtering the waste products from their blood into their urine. Abyssinians may be affected by kidney disease caused by infections, blockages, tumours or toxins (especially licking anti-freeze) as well as age related changes. Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidney function deteriorates gradually over a period of time. Treatment depends on the cause and the extent of damage, but usually begins by flushing the kidneys using intravenous fluids, followed by special diets and medications. Unfortunately kidney disease is irreversible, but with the right support many cats can enjoy a reasonably normal life.


We paid £3,384 to treat Doris the cat for kidney disorders in 2016

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