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This book is for all cats from which the stunning Somali originated of and to the breeders who dedicated so much work on behalf of this wonderful and exceptional breed.
Tilsim dan J’ai O`se © and owner: Jana Crhová
Breed, Growth and Spreading
Personality & BehaviourWesen
The CFA Standard (acknowledged since 1979)
Exhibitions / Cat Shows
Requirements for cat keeping
Tomcat (male) or Queen (female)
Kitten or Adult
Somali and children
Somali and Dog
Cats in rented Apartments
Who takes Care during your Vacation?
Cat Toilette (Litterbox)
Cat Carriers (Kennels and Crates)
Food- and Water bowls
Cat Scratch Tree
Somali – Scratch Tree and more
Pregnancy and Birth
PK (Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency)
(PRA) Progressive Retina Atrophy
(PL) Patellar Luxation
Passport for cats – Microchip
The old Somali
Cat years compared to human years
Cat a, b, c
Admirers of the Somali have repeatedly approached me with the request for written information on this breed. The lack of such data in form of a book (and written in German), has inspired me to set to work and write down some of my experiences with my own Somalis.
My name is Elke Broda - Cattery Tilsim dan, living in Germany and breeder of Somalis since 1998.
Well aware of the fact, that there is a lot more to tell on the subject of the Somali than what you will find in this book, I make no claim to be complete!
Also please be aware, that this is not a regular guidebook on cat behaviour for cat owners, even though you will find some such points addressed in here.
Since the book is setup with a detailed index, it will give you the possibility to just chose and read a certain chapter of interest or read right on. But because of that, it also means that some of the book’s contents are repeated in other chapters related to the subject.
That the Somali originates from the Abyssinian is no secret, at least not anymore. This was different at the beginning since the Abyssinian was considered to be a purebred for short hair. Obviously more than one story circulates about the evolutionary history of the Somali, but probably no one will ever know which one to be true.
In 1967, an adult longhair Abyssinian male cat was dropped off at an animal shelter in New Jersey/USA. Evelyn Mague, a breeder of Abyssinians saw him there and was so intrigued by his appearance that she took him home. Also, this cat seemed to resemble her own male cats. She called him George and started searching for his origins. To her own surprise she discovered that George originated from her own lines! She found out that George’s father was Lynn-Lee's Lord Dublin and his mother was Lo-Mi-R's Trill-By. From these 2 adults another 6 kittens with longhair were born.
Sometimes, breeders of Abyssinian’s found longhair kittens along their litters of shorthair. It was an undesirable product of a recessive gene in the Abyssinian cat and many Aby breeders refused to admit ever having had longhair kittens in their litters. They kept it a secret and just gave these longhair kittens away.
Tilsim dan Janna’s happy end – Infinite Energy – what else
Almaros Ringo Star - Abyssinian © and owner: Alice Rosol
But Evelyn was so fascinated by the longhaired Abyssinians that she decided to breed them. She worked diligently for recognition and development of the Somali breed, and therefore had the distinct honour of naming the breed. She picked a name of equal stature to the one derived from Abyssinia - she chose to call them Somalis after Somalia, the neighbouring country of ancient Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia).
Then, in 1972 Evelyn Mague founded the Somali cat club of America (SCCA) and together with other breeders, who were also working with the longhair Aby – she tried to get the Somalis acknowledged by the biggest cat club of America, the Fanciers Association (CFA). Finally, on May 1, 1979 the breed Somali was accepted by the CFA and could from then on win Champion points at exhibitions.
The SCCA further investigated the origin ancestry of the Somali and discovered that all descended from only 4 Abyssinian males. They all go back to Raby Chuffa, born in England on April 4, 1952. He was sold to the USA in 1953 and got known as Raby Chuffa of Selene. Almost simultaneously longhair kitten surfaced in USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The mating of 2 Somalis, originating from different countries, always produced Somalis and consequently spontaneous mutations should not be considered.
Raby’s father was the Abyssinian male Roverdale’s Purrkins. Roverdale’s Purrkins died in 1956. Unfortunately, his ancestry is entirely unknown. The only known fact is that in 1942 a sailor gave Janet Roverdale a gift – a cat which looked a lot like today’s known Abyssinian. This cat was named Mrs. Mew. One of her litters produced a black male cat and a ticked female. With this ticked female Janet started her own breed under the Cattery name Roverdale.
Raby Chuffa is considered to be the prime father of all Somalis.
Recessive genes can stay hidden for as long as 10 generations until the mating of a longhair gene carrying cats suddenly produce longhair kittens.
Nowadays the longhair gene carrier can be identified with a DNA test.
During 1965 also in Australia the first longhair kittens appeared in Abyssinian litters. The very first pure Somali litter was born in the USA in 1972, and as of 1977/1978 the Somali population had already grown to a total number of 125.
Even though the first Somalis were imported in England from USA in 1980, it is obvious that both breeds, Abyssinians and Somalis, were actually developed and refined in Britain (“made in England”), because all pets imported in the USA, carrying the longhair gene, were originally from England.
In 1982, also FIFe acknowledged the Somali breed.
It is established that 12 cats of the Abyssinian breed were registered in the breeding book of the National Cat Club. All 12 had at least one unknown parent. Needless to say that one wished the unknown parent to either be an African Wildcat or even Zula, whom is considered to be the one female from which the modern Aby originates. Zula came to England to Mrs. Barreth-Lennard in 1868. In 1917 the first Abyssinian was registered in in the CFA and in 1927 the Abyssinian was acknowledged in France. In 1934 the first Abyssinian was born in Germany (Dresden).
The sorrel coloured Abyssinian was only acknowledged in 1963 even though this colour was known since 1950. The blue and fawn coloured Abyssinian got Champion Status in 1981 and the silver colours followed in 1984. Silver Abyssinian were said to have existed ever since the 1900’s. The colour names Aluminium I and Aluminium II point to that, but it is no proven fact.
The breeding of Somalis poses high demands on a breeder. Requirements, such as knowledge of genetics, researches on bloodlines, having a very good eye for “matching parents” are just a few to be mentioned.
Someone who really wants to breed Somalis and not just “produce” cats will first of all have to invest a lot of time studying and learning about this breed. Take on the challenge to get to the bottom of things by talking to people and contact the recognized, qualified breeders and experts on Somali. An experienced breeder will surely help with information. But please be aware that good things always take time. There is one advantage for Somali breeders: to widen the gene pool, it is allowed to cross breed with Abyssinians, the origin thoroughbred.
Tilsim dan pure Poison
Kiachero Tilsimo Tiamino - Abyssinian/variant © Anne Wiker Owner: Ida Kristiansen
The result of Abyssinian x Somali are Abyssinian
Variant cats. They then carry the recessive
longhair gene of the Somali parent. Therefore,
these cats are not pure-bred and the name
“Abyssinian Variant” must be stated in their
pedigree. It is forbidden to match an Abyssinian
Variant into a pure Abyssinian breed;
understandably the breeder would not be very
pleased finding a “longhaired cougar” in his litter
However, at exhibitions where the (phenotypic) shorthair breeds have to compete against the pure-bred Abyssinians, their success is undeniable. For Somali breeders it can be of significant value, if different Abyssinian lines are crossed (e.g. genetic diversity, type and physique).
Somalis are not very widely spread since there are quite some requirements to be fulfilled by a breeder, e.g. the ticking of the coat.
A pure tabby pattern should neither have stripes on the legs nor a ruff. But since one of the characteristics that all Tabby cats show (no matter which pattern they have), is stripes and ruff, which poses an obstacle to overcome.
The colour grey in the undercoat is disliked and the colour white is at the utmost allowed around the chin (cream is the preferred colour here). But since the gene pool for such characteristics is not as large, a fair amount of time is required for investigation and research to achieve this.
The Somali is highly intelligent, full of sprits, lively, bubbly, amazingly playful, teachable, intensely affectionate to her people and compliant. She is a mixture of breath-taking beauty, elegance and personality. She is self-confident and sensitive and knows exactly what she wants and will apply all her charm to get just that. You will never get bored with a Somali!
Without appearing despotic, her intelligence will let her act as “boss of the household”. Highly interested in what you are doing in your daily chores, she will imitate some and use it to her advantage. No place ever goes unexplored and yet she is very careful and selfdom knocks things down from shelves or countertops. Her temperament is lively and alert, yet without being unrefined; and a good portion of capriciousness belongs to her too.