The Abyssinian is thought of as an 'eternal kitten', since their behaviour into adulthood is much like that of young cats. They have a tendency to be very playful and curious, which can create problems at home, with any object, decorative element, or piece of furniture being a potential toy. The owners of an Abyssinian should take this behavioural characteristic into account when decorating their homes, in order to avoid upset.
It is important to always offer them an enriching environment that is suitable to their energetic, somewhat naughty temperament. It is recommended that they also have controlled access to the outdoors.
In addition, this breed tends to be less independent, preferring to seek the company of other family members and courting a lot of attention. Their high level of curiosity and considerable intelligence makes this breed an excellent candidate for cat obedience game training.
The Fédération Internationale Féline recognises the Abyssinian as a category 4 breed. The breed is described as medium-sized, with long limbs and tail, relatively large ears with a wide base and pointed ends, and preferably with tufts of hair. They have large, almond-shaped eyes that are always very expressive thanks to their beautifully intense amber, yellow, or green colour. Their fur is short and fine, and has between 2 and 3 stripes of colour in each strand of hair. The dark tip of each hair creates what is known as the “agouti effect”, with a stripe-free layer that has a reddish brown, greyish, or even hare-like colouring (the accepted colours are referred to as Sorrel, Rudy, Fawn, and Blue). White varieties are also accepted. The tail is of the same colour as the body, with the fur becoming progressively darker towards the tip, without rings.
Kittens are born with a fairly dark coat that becomes lighter as they age.
Although this breed results from mixing with local breeds in Great Britain, it is believed that some of their ancestors were imported from the colonial territories of what is now Ethiopia. The first reference to this breed was at a 19th-century exhibition in Britain.