Let's talk Somali cats

Somali cats are the medium-long haired variety of the Abyssinian and are equally striking in appearance. The Somali has a gentle temperament, likes to climb (the higher the better) and is often the centre of attention. They won’t do well if left home alone, but the Somali gets on well with other household pets who will be able to keep them company and act as a playmate. Their intelligence and curiosity may be a little too much for some owners—the Somali needs a family that can match their energy and playfulness!

Official name: Somali

Other names: Fox cat, Long-haired Abyssinia

Origins: United States of America .

Side view of Somali in black and white

 Shedding level:

Warm weather? Medium
 Energy level (high, low, medium)*: High Family Pet?* 
 Compatibility with other pets:

*We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches.
Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.
Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed’s specifics should be taken as an indication.
For a happy, healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socialising your pet as well as covering their basic welfare, social and behavioural needs.
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
Inline Image 15
Illustration of Somali
30 - 35 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
4 - 5 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
30 - 35 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
3 - 4 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby cat  Birth to 4 months
 Growing kitten  4 to 12 months
 Adult  1 to 7 years
 Mature  7 to 12 years
 Senior  From 12 years

Two Somali kittens looking at camera


Get to know the Somali

All you need to know about the breed

The beautiful Somali is far from being a docile lap cat. Like their feline cousin the Abyssinian, they are constantly on the move, like to climb as high as possible and are very curious. If you work from home, your Somali is likely to accompany you about your day with occasional bird-watching breaks.

The Somali is an adaptable feline with a playful temperament suited to adults and children alike. The more you interact with your Somali, through training and interactive games, the more affection you will receive in return. They can even be trained to walk on a leash for a calm stroll around a quiet neighbourhood.

If you are often away from home, consider another Somali cat who will be great company and stop them from wreaking havoc on your furniture—although that beautiful fur may get on your carpet as the Somali is a moderate shedder. Their coat is soft, which is perfect for petting, but the texture varies slightly depending on the colour of their fur, which can be ruddy, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lilac, fawn or silver.

Ultimately, the mischievous temperament of the Somali won’t be for everyone but if you’re confident and able to stay one step ahead, life will certainly be more interesting. Just remember to show them who’s boss.

Close-up of Somali kitten looking at camera


2 facts about Somali cats

1. That’s entertainment

Somalis are incredibly active so will feel more comfortable in a house, preferably with a secure outdoor space to run around in. Indoors, make sure they have a cat tree (or two) as they enjoy climbing and respond well to agility-based exercises.

2. Handles heat better

Somali cats don’t do so well with the cold. If you take them out for a walk (on leash) or let them out into the garden during winter, keep it brief and warm them up with a few more hugs.


History of the breed

Interesting fact: Somali cats don’t actually hail from Somalia. As a direct descendant of the Abyssinian, who has many romantic mysteries surrounding their origins, Somali cats have roots in Southeast Asia. This is evidenced by their close resemblance to African wildcats, except that the Abyssinian and Somali are 100% domestic. Experts believe their feline ancestors include Siamese cats, Burmese cats and Russian Blues.

When the Abyssinian was first introduced to Canada, there was significant interest that led to research and development of the breed. Mary Mailling became a notable Abyssinian breeder and first presented a long-haired version in 1963 at the Calgary cat show.

Interest in the breed quickly spread to America and in 1967, Evelyne Mague from New Jersey started breeding Abyssinians with longer hair. She officially named the new variety as “Somali”, a direct reference to Somalia, the border state of Ethiopia, the country of origin of Abyssinia.

Even today, it is more likely that you will spot an Abyssinian over a Somali. Both remain rare when compared to more mainstream purebred cats, but if you’re lucky enough to welcome a Somali into your home, they will make a sociable addition to the household.

Close-up of Somali in black and white


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Somali cats

1. Body

A muscular body that is also slender in appearance.

2. Coat

Medium-length double coat with a silky, fine texture.

3. Tail

A long, plush tail that is thicker at the base.

Somali kitten looking away from camera


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Somali
Somali walking across snow towards camera


Caring for your Somali

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The soft, silky coat of a Somali is not very demanding when it comes to grooming. One brush per week will keep it healthy and soft. Be vigilant with dental hygiene as the breed can be more susceptible to periodontal disease. Keep their nails trimmed and check their ears from time to time to prevent infection. The Somali is an active feline that requires dedicated attention, with frequent play sessions to keep boredom at bay. They can be trained to walk on a leash outside, which is great if you live in a calm neighbourhood. Make sure you have a climbing tree at home as the graceful Somali enjoys heights. Toys will help to keep them out of mischief and their claws out of your furniture. Due to their intelligence, the breed is a delight to train and their muscular yet slender build means that they excel at agility based training.


All about Somali cats

Yes, Somali cats are affectionate and tend to get on well with all family members, even children once trained. They enjoy the attention of their humans and are most content when surrounded by people. But while they are an affectionate breed, the Somali is not really a lap cat or a big fan of cuddling.

It’s more that Somalis are not as mainstream compared to other purebred cats. They are not an endangered breed but they are less frequently spotted than many other cat breeds, similar to their feline cousin the Abyssinian. Having a Somali just means you will stand out from the crowd!



1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Cat Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book