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The Somali is the longhair counterpart to the Abyssinian.
It is a very elegant and attractive cat because of its ticked silky long hairs.

Size is medium. The body together with the legs form more or less a square. The body is very muscular with senewy slender legs.
The shape of the head is a short modified wedge where all lines and curves are soft and gentle.
What does that mean ?
Looking on the head wether from the front or in profile there should not be seen any straight lines or flat planes. The forehead is gently curved, the muzzle is gently curved and round, i.e. the head is not pointed.
When viewed from the side the head is short, the nose shows a gentle curve and profile is not straight.
Ears are fairly large and wide at the base, when viewed from the side they are slightly forward tilted, called pricked which gives the breed an alert expression. The ear tips are tufted with hairs.
Eyes are large and almond in shape and very brilliant, you get caught by these eyes.
The tail is medium to almost long with a rounded tip, i.e. not pointed, and is bushy because of its long hairs, it looks like a fox's brush.

The standard for the Somali is the same as for the Abyssinian, except that the Somali has a long coat.

The colours are the same as for the Abyssinian:

  • ruddy

  • sorrel

  • blue

  • fawn

  • and all those colours also with silver.

The most characteristique and important part of the Somali is the coat, it shows a rich base colour and each hair of the upper body parts is ticked, which means each hair shows several bands of the base colour alternating with the darker colour of the ticking, the tips of the hairs are coloured with the same darker colour of the ticking.
The underside of the body (chest, stomache, innerside of the legs) is without ticking.

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In the face you can see, that the Somali is a tabby cat (called Ticked Tabby), because you can find the typical tabby markings like the "M" on the forehead and the rims around the eyes. But on all the other parts, like around the neck, the flancs, the legs and the tail no stripes or rings are permitted. It is very difficult to have a Somali which shows a uniformly ticked coat on its flancs without darker patches.
The colour and ticking is developing extremely slowly. In kittens you may see quite often a darker coat with greyish underground which dissapears when the kitten is fully grown up.
The best place to see which colour the ticking has is the tail tip which is uniform in colour.

Hairs are quite fine and thin, the coat is dense and soft to touch.
The Somali has long silky hairs. In winter the Somali shows a ruff and so called knickerbockers, when you look at the back side of the hind legs they look like as being dressed in knickerbockers because the hairs are quite long.

Visit the cattery av Tatik

GIC Sanddrop's Christina, Somali ruddy
Marit Sollid

In the ruddy Somali the base colour is orange, the hairs are ticked with dark seal. Undercoat is not permitted to be greyish, because otherwise the colour would look dull and cold which is undesirable. On this picture you can see the knickerbockers on the hind legs very well.

Visit the cattery of Dushara

Dushara Dawning Trace of Frost, Somali black silver
Teresa Guldager

In the black silver Somali the base colour is silver white, the hairs are ticked with black. Chest, stomache, innerside of legs are silver white without ticking. It is very difficult to get black silver Somalis without yellow tinge on the coat.

Visit the cattery of Silverlion

Somali blue
Christiane & Robert Vielvoye

In the blue Somali the base colour is blue on a beige (cream) ground colour. The hairs are ticking with dark blue. Chest, stomache and innerside of the legs are beige (cream).

Visit tne cattery of Silverlion

Somali fawn silver
Christiane & Robert Vielvoye

In the fawn silver Somali the base colour is silver white, the hairs are ticked with beige. Chest, stomache, innerside of the legs are silver white. Fawn Silver is a very rare and difficult colour to breed.


Visit the cattery of Silverlion

Somali sorrel silver
Christiane & Robert Vielvoye

In the sorrel silver Somali the base colour is silver white ticked with reddish chocolate (looks like the cat has a cinnamon coloured glue over its coat). Chest, stomache, innerside of legs are silver white without ticking and without any coloured patch.


Recognition of this breed was accompanied with some difficulties because some Abyssinian breeders thought outcrosses to longhair cats must have happened. In fact, certain Abyssinian lines carried the recessive longhair gene for many generations, probably dating back to the early 1930s when some non-pedigree Abyssinians had been registered in England. In the beginning some breeders ignored that and neutered the longhaired cats, while other breeders found them very attractive.
In the early 1960s a breeding program was set out by North American breeders to breed the longhaired Abyssinians under the name Somali (note: the name has nothing to do with Somalia). In 1977 the first Somalis from the USA were imported in Europe into Germany. Australian breeders and breeders from New Zealand tried independently to establish the Somali as a separate breed, using Abyssinian breed lines imported from England. In fact a Somali was shown in Australia as early as 1965.
Since longhair is recessive the Somali is a true breeding cat. When crossing Somalis with Abyssinians the shorthair offsprings tend to have a plushier coat than the normal Abyssinians. In North America the shorthair offsprings resulting from a crossing between a Somali and an Abyssinian are registered as Somalis, even they are identical genetically to the Abyssinians.



The Somali is extremely gentle and affectionated to people. They are very good companions, not excessively "talkative". They are interested in their surroundings, which gives them this very special expression in their sparkling brilliant eyes. Nothing is too small, nothing too big not to be subject of their adventure of investigation.
They love to climb, but very seldom break or distrub things, even when they move between things like a slalom skier.
This breed seems to be able to read and anticipate the needs of their favorite persons.



The Somali has rather fine and very silky hairs, it does not have excessive undercoat. Their coat has no tendency to get filthy or knotted. As the Somali is a longhair cat, it needs regularly to be brushed and combed - in general longhairs need to be brushed and combed on a regular basis. From time to time a bath with a mild baby shampoo will do good for the coat.



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