A Magnificent Long-Haired Cat that Looks Like a Fox
Jon Crimes - Last Updated on January 28th, 2021
What you Need to Know about the Somali
The Somali cat is a foxy feline that will take your breath away.
They have a silky long coat that is beautifully colored and a very distinctive big bushy foxtail. Combined with an exotic looking face, this cat is one of a kind and will get admiring looks wherever it goes.
Medium-sized and with long, athletic legs, they have a graceful pose. Expect males to weigh between 8 and 10 pounds with female cats being a little smaller.
The Somali kitten can be slow to mature with its coat color reaching its full richness in as much as 18 months.
Appearance Matters. What does a Somali look like?
With ears that are large and alert, the Somali looks like it’s always ready for action. Its appearance is not unlike that of its ancestor, the Longhaired Abyssinian.
This appearance is complemented with expressive almond-shaped eyes. These can be green, amber, or gold. Their eyes also appear to be circled by a dark color. A closer look at the cat's face and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the cat is wearing eyeliner!
Their coat has a soft texture, is semi-long, but hugs the body giving it the allusion of a shorter-haired breed. The Somali coat comes in the following CFA recognized colors:
Are Somali cats rare?
Somali cats are still quite rare and were unknown for a long time. Now, more people have become aware of these beautiful cats. This is in no small part to their stunning appearance.
It's all Personal. The Somali Personality
They might look like foxes but the Somali cat personality can be liked to that of a monkey! Grasping objects, opening doors, and turning on water taps are all examples of what this breed can get up to.
If they find something intriguing, they'll find a way to interact with it.
This behavior doesn't stop at floor level either. Athletic and agile, they can climb or jump to satisfy their curiosity. Expect your Somali to do this from an early age and continue doing so through most of their adult life.
Shy is not a word associated with the Somali cat. Strangers will see this cat coming towards them. People knocking at your door will be greeted with much curiosity.
Are Somali cats affectionate?
They can be very affectionate but also very demanding! If they want your attention then don't be surprised to feel a paw touch your face. They will however tend to do this very gently. Although they crave attention, they have a very respectful way of ‘demanding’ it.
Somali's can adjust to living in a household where the owner is away at work a lot. They will of course be happier with someone who stays at home or if they have other feline companionship. They can bond with other cats quite quickly but as with most felines, dogs might take a little longer.
Somali's are also quite easy to train from a young age. Done right they will understand the meaning of 'no' and can be taught some basic tricks. This can include retrieving their favorite toy and even walking on a harness.
This is also a cat that can run around and fly through the air with very little warning. They do this with a great deal of charm and grace however and are a pleasure to watch and play with.
Caring for your Somali
The Somali is quite easy to take care of. Quite uncommon for longer-haired cats, they shed only small amounts of excess hair, with one exception. Once or twice a year, they will shed a coat layer to allow a new one to come through.
If this happens indoors, be prepared to get the brush and hoover out!
Regular grooming should help to keep this annual shed down to a minimum. It will also keep their coat mat and tangle-free in the meantime.
Also add ear cleaning, eye wiping, and trimming of your Somali's nails into the routine. Start all this as a kitten to make life a lot easier when the cat grows up.
Is the Somali hypoallergenic?
No cat is truly hypoallergenic but some cats are better for people with allergies than others. The Somali doesn’t fit into this category but with regular grooming then the breed might be suitable for people with low allergy levels.
The Health and Happiness of your Somali
The Somali is a young breed but is reported to be healthy with few hereditary conditions. More detailed health information is based on their nearest relative, the Abyssinian. Because of the genetic connection, Abyssinian inherited conditions might also affect some Somali cats.
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency. This is a condition that affects the red blood cells within the cat and leads to Anemia. Signs to look out can be a bit vague but include lethargy and your cat not being interested in their food. A test is available for this condition.
- Progressive retinal atrophy. This is an autosomal recessive trait that affects the cat's eyesight and can lead to blindness. The condition can be very gradual and hard to detect. Nighttime vision can be affected first. Your cat might start having problems navigating objects in low light levels.
- Renal Amyloidosis. Amyloidosis is a protein dysfunction that can affect various organs in the body. Although the condition isn't that common, kidneys seem to be the most commonly affected by this. It also affects older cats more but can be seen in younger felines. Signs to look out for include excessive drinking and urination. Diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss can also be indicators.
What is the Somali cat lifespan?
For a healthy cat, the Somali lifespan can be anywhere between 9 and 13 years.
Feline History. Where does the Somali come from?
The Somali originates from a recessive gene with the Abyssinian cat. It's not known how this gene was introduced but reports date back to the 1940s.
The breed got its name from an American Abyssinian breeder, Evelyn Mague. With 'longhairs' being born into her litters, she chose 'Somali' as the breed name. Somalia borders Ethiopia which was historically known as Abyssinia.
Breeders resisted the new cat at first, fearing breed purity might be threatened. In the 1970s the breed was accepted into North America, with Europe a few years later.
The Somali cat was eventually recognized around the world in 1991.