Somali Cat: Breed Profile, Characteristics, and Care Guide

| Updated: May 2, 2023
Somali cat

If you are looking for a playful, intelligent, and sociable cat, you might want to consider the Somali cat. This gorgeous breed has a long, silky coat and a lively personality that will keep you entertained for hours. In this article, we will explore the history, characteristics, care, and health of the Somali cat, as well as some tips on how to find a reputable breeder or rescue.

Breed Profile

Weight Up to 12 pounds
Length Up to 26 inches
Coat Length Medium-long hair
Coat Colors Red, ruddy, blue, fawn, and sorrel
Coat Pattern Ticked
Eye Colors Green or gold
Personality Playful, intelligent, sociable, affectionate, mischievous
Hypoallergenic No
Good with Kids Medium
Good with Pets Medium
Origin Australia

History of the Somali Cat

The Somali cat is essentially a long-haired version of the Abyssinian cat, one of the world’s oldest and most popular breeds. The origin of the Somali cat is somewhat mysterious. Still, some experts believe that a recessive gene for long hair was introduced into the Abyssinian population in the early 1900s through crossbreeding with other long-haired cats of unknown ancestry.

The first known long-haired Abyssinian appeared in Australia in 1965. They were later referred to as a Somali by an American breeder named Evelyn Mague, who received some of these cats from Canada. Mague chose the name Somali in reference to Somalia, the African nation that borders Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia), where the Abyssinian cat is believed to have originated.

Mague and other breeders worked together to develop and promote the Somali cat as a distinct breed. They faced some opposition from some Abyssinian breeders who wanted to keep the long-haired gene out of their cats. However, over time, they gained recognition and acceptance from various cat associations around the world. Today, Somalis are a relatively rare but well-loved breed that has many fans and admirers.

What Do Somali Cats Look Like

The Somali cat is a medium-sized cat with a muscular and athletic body. The most striking feature of the Somali cat is its coat, which is medium-long, soft, and silky. The coat has a distinctive ticked pattern, which means that each hair has bands of different colors. The ticked pattern gives the Somali cat a wild and exotic look that resembles that of a fox or a cougar.

The Somali cat comes in four main colors: ruddy (brown with black ticking), red (orange with brown ticking), blue (gray with slate blue ticking), and fawn (beige with rose ticking). Some associations also recognize other colors, such as silver, chocolate, lilac, cream, tortoiseshell, and tabby.

Somalis have wedge-shaped heads with large ears that are tufted at the tips. The eyes are large, almond-shaped, and expressive. They can be green or gold in color. The tail is long and bushy, adding to the fox-like appearance of the breed.

Somali Cats Personality

The Somali cat is an active and intelligent cat that loves to explore and play. They are very curious and often get into mischief when they find something interesting or new. They enjoy climbing, jumping, chasing, and fetching toys. They are also very agile and can perform impressive acrobatic feats.

These are not lap cats, but they are very affectionate and sociable. They enjoy being around people and other animals and often follow their owners around the house. They like to be involved in whatever their owners are doing and often try to help or supervise. They are also very vocal and will communicate with their owners through various sounds.

Theis breed is not a good choice for someone who is away from home for long periods of time or who wants a quiet and independent cat. Somali cats need attention and stimulation to be happy and healthy. They do best with another cat or a friendly dog to keep them company when their owners are not around.


  • The Somali cat is a beautiful and exotic breed with a stunning coat and a wild appearance.
  • The Somali cat is an active and intelligent breed that loves to play and interact with people and other animals.
  • The Somali cat is an affectionate and loyal breed that enjoys being around its owners and following them around.


  • The Somali cat is not a hypoallergenic breed and may trigger allergies in some people.
  • The Somali cat is prone to genetic or inherited diseases affecting their blood, eyes, teeth, and kidneys.

Caring For a Somali Cat

The Somali cat has a relatively low-maintenance coat that does not mat easily. However, they still need regular brushing (once or twice a week) to remove loose hair and prevent hairballs. They also need occasional bathing to keep their coat shiny and clean.

The Somali cat also needs regular dental care to prevent periodontal disease, which they are prone to develop. Brushing their teeth daily or weekly can help keep their gums and teeth healthy. They may also need professional dental cleanings from time to time.

Caring for Somali cats includes trimming their nails every few weeks, regularly cleaning their ears and eyes to prevent infections, and providing them with a clean litter box and fresh water.

The Somali cat also needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. They need toys, scratching posts, cat trees, and interactive games to keep them busy and entertained. They also appreciate having a window perch or a cat enclosure where they can watch the outside world.

Common Health Issues in Somali Cats

The Somali cat is a relatively healthy breed but can still be prone to genetic or inherited diseases affecting its blood, eyes, teeth, and kidneys. Some of the common health problems to watch for are:

  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency: This is a condition that causes severe anemia in the cat due to a lack of an enzyme that helps break down glucose in the red blood cells. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, jaundice, and weight loss. This disease has no cure, but supportive care and blood transfusions can help manage it.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: This eye disease leads to blindness due to retina degeneration. Symptoms include night blindness, dilated pupils, and reduced vision. There is no treatment for this disease, but affected cats can still live a good quality of life with proper care and adjustments.
  • Periodontal disease: This is a dental disease that affects the gums and teeth of the cat due to plaque and tartar buildup. Symptoms include bad breath, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and difficulty eating. This disease can also lead to infections and organ damage if left untreated. Prevention is the best way to avoid this disease by brushing the cat’s teeth regularly and providing them with dental treats and toys.
  • Renal amyloidosis: A kidney disease that occurs when abnormal proteins called amyloids accumulate in the kidneys and impair their function. Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, vomiting, and lethargy. This disease has no cure, but supportive care and dietary management can help prolong the cat’s life.

Taking your Somali cat to the vet for regular check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings is important to prevent or detect these health problems early. Before adopting any cat, you should also ask your breeder for the parents’ and kittens’ health certificates and genetic tests.

Special Considerations

The Somali cat is a wonderful breed that can bring joy and laughter to any home. However, before you decide to adopt one, you should consider some special factors that may affect your lifestyle and budget.

  • The Somali cat is not a hypoallergenic breed. They shed moderately and produce dander and saliva that can trigger allergies in some people. If you or anyone in your household has allergies or asthma, you may want to consult your doctor before getting a Somali.
  • Somali cats are not a quiet breed. They are very vocal and will often make various sounds to express their feelings, needs, and opinions. They may also be active at night and disturb your sleep with their antics. The Somali may not be your best match if you prefer a silent, calm cat.

Where to Buy a Somali Cat

Somali cats are relatively rare and in high demand, which means that they can cost anywhere from $500 to $1500 or more, depending on the breeder, location, quality, and color of the kitten.

You can check out some of the following websites that list Somali cat breeders or rescues in different regions:

  • The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) Breeder Referral Service
  • The International Cat Association (TICA) Breeder Directory
  • The Somali Cat Club of America (SCCA) Breeder List


The Somali cat is a beautiful and charming breed that can make a wonderful companion for anyone who loves an active, intelligent, and sociable cat. They have stunning coats, a lively personality, and a loyal nature that will win your heart. However, they also have some special needs and considerations you should be aware of before adopting. If you think you can provide a loving and stimulating home for a Somali, you will be rewarded with a loyal and entertaining friend for life.

More Cat Breeds

If you’re interested in learning about similar cat breeds, check out:


Q: How big do Somali cats get?

A: Somali cats are medium-sized cats that typically weigh between 6 and 12 pounds and measure up to 26 inches in length. Males are usually larger and heavier than females.

Q: What is the difference between a Somali cat and an Abyssinian cat?

A: The main difference between a Somali cat and an Abyssinian cat is the length of their coat. Somali cats have medium-long coat that is soft and silky, while Abyssinian cats have a short coat that is dense and coarse. Both breeds have the same ticked pattern and come in similar colors.

Q: Are Somali cats good for families?

A: Somali cats can be good for families with older children who can interact with cats properly. They are playful, sociable, and affectionate cats that enjoy being around people and other pets. However, they may not be suitable for families with very young children or those away from home for long periods, as they need attention and stimulation to prevent boredom and mischief.

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