If you hang around Abyssinian cat breeders you will be convinced that must have raised squirrels at some point in their lives. Abyssinian cat breeders and owners say that living with an Abyssinian is like living with squirrels.

Abys have the wildcat look of felis lybica, the African wildcat ancestor of all domestic cats. You might think they bear some resemblance to a mountain lion, a mini-cougar. Unlike their wild cousin, they area very sweet and affectionate animals that love to interact with their human families. Images in ancient Egypt show cats with a very similar appearance, right down to the ticked appearance of their coats. In the early eighteen hundreds, the first Abyssinian cats arrived in England from Ethiopia on trader ships

The Abyssinian cat has a graceful tail that is as long as the rest of its body. Although Abyssinians can have coats in several shades, including ruddy, red, blue and fawn, they all are tabbies with a ticked appearance. This means that each individual hair has four to six bands of dark and light color. This cat breed has a wedge shaped face with eyes that are green, amber, or hazel colored.

It is no surprise that such a curious breed is also extremely active. While they will spend some loving time in the lap, do not consider them a lap cat. You should also put up your breakables, and rethink your decorating. It may be time to add some cat furniture decor for climbing.

Owners spend a lot of time playing with these ‘feline squirrels’. Abyssinians can scale any fences, rail or wall trim as they explore their surroundings. If you adopt an Aby, you’ll grow accustomed to seeing her cross shelving and even jump several feet in the air.

Did I mention toys? These cats need lots of toys. If you don’t provide playthings, your cat will use your belongings to create his own toys. There goes your necklace, earrings and grandmother’s ring.

Perhaps more than any other breed you must keep a close eye on your Abyssinian if you allow him to go outdoors. He is an escape artist. Plus he has to introduce himself to the neighbors.

This breed’s personality means that it needs a lot of attention and affection from its owner. An Abyssinian is the wrong choice for anyone who spends most of their time away from home at the office or traveling. This breed does enjoy playing and interacting with other cats. You could add another Abyssinian to the fray, but an Aby really doesn’t make a good latchkey kid.

It won’t take long for you to teach your cat a few simple commands. He can learn to come to you when he is called, fetch and chase. This helps keep him trim too. It shouldn’t be a chore to spend time playing and training this agile descendant of Ethiopian wildcats.

As a breed, Abyssinians are very healthy. The breed can be prone to kidney problems (feline renal amyloidosis), become anemic, have a tendency to develop gingivitis, and develop a degenerative eye disorder (progressive retinal atrophy) which can end up in blindness.

With its short sleek coat, the Abyssinian needs very little grooming. However, they have been known to love water and have fun in the bath — with or without their human bather.

All Abyssinian cat breeders know, their felines probably won’t spend a lot of time in your lap, but they will learn quickly and have a wild time with you and your family.