The Abyssinian is a natural breed of domesticated cat. It is said to have originated from one Egyptian female kitten called Zula that was taken from a port in Alexandria, by a British soldier and brought to England. It is believed all Abysinians in Europe, America, and Australia are descended from Zula, but there has been at least 1 and possibly as many as 3 Abyssinians introduced from Libya into the existing Abyssinian gene pool in the USA
The Abyssinian has a distinctly ticked, tawny coat. The tail and paws may show tabby markings. It has large almond-shaped green or gold eyes with a fine dark line around them, and large ears. The coat is generally a warm golden colour, but Abyssinian can also be blue, fawn, cinnamon and red. There is also a Silver Abyssinian variant whose coat shows shades of white, cream and grey.
This breed is active, friendly, curious and playful, but are generally not lap cats; they are too occupied with exploring and playing in their surroundings; they are "busy" cats, and can get bored and depressed without daily activity and attention. Many Abyssinians enjoy heights, and will explore their surroundings in three dimensions, from the floor to their owner's shoulders to the top of the highest furniture. They are highly intelligent, but probably the most independent of any domestic breed. There is a long-haired version of the Abyssinian, called the Somali.
The origins of its name is not because Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia, is thought to be the original home of these cats, but because the first "Abyssinians" exhibited in shows in England were reported to have been imported from that country
Studies by scientists show that the most convincing origin of the Abyssinian breed is the coast of the Indian Ocean and parts of Southeast Asia. In fact, the earliest identifiable Abyssinian is a taxidermal exhibit still residing in the Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland. This ruddy ticked cat was purchased around 1834-1836 from a supplier of small wild cat exhibits and labeled by the museum founder as "Patrie, domestica India." Although the Abyssinian as a breed was refined in England, its introduction to that country and others may have been the result of colonists and merchants stopping in Calcutta, the major port for the Indian Ocean.