Somali


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Introduction

The Somali is often referred to as the "cat with the smiling face" which is just one of their delightful traits. They are medium size cats that boast being of a foreign type and are known to be highly intelligent as well as incredibly beautiful. They thrive on being around people forming strong bonds with their owners. The Somali is also known for having a real "zest" for life which makes sharing a home with one of these wild looking cats so very enjoyable. However, anyone wishing to share a home with a Somali would need to register their interest with breeders because well-bred kittens are hard to find.


History

The Somali is thought to be an ancient breed with similar looking cats having been depicted in the papyrus of Nespaheran which dates back to c900 BC. These cats are thought to be longhaired Abyssinians that existed back in ancient times. There are also records of longhaired Abyssinian kittens that were kept in the 12th century. However, it was not until the early 1960's that semi-longhaired Somalis were developed by an Abyssinian breeder in the States.

Over time, the Abyssinian was used in Somali breeding programmes with an end goal being to increase the breed's gene pool. As such many kittens were born with short-hair which soon found favour with breeders and owners alike thanks to their attractive looks. The breed was awarded Championship status by the GCCF in 2014 which included both the shorthair and the semi-longhaired Somali. Today, more breeders are taking an interest in producing these healthy, beautiful cats and as such more people are wanting to share their homes with a Somali although to do so, there may well be a long waiting list because few well-bred kittens become available every year.


Appearance

The Somali is a very graceful cat that comes in a wonderful choice of colours. They are elegant and nicely balanced felines that boast having a bit of a "wild" look about them. They can either have short or semi-long coats, but both are really beautiful cats that stand out in the crowd. They have rather wedge-shaped heads, but with nice gentle contours. When seen in profile cats have a slight nose break and firm chins. They have high foreheads that boast having a good width in between the ears which are set wide and never too low. Ears are large being broader at the base and nicely cupped with small tufts at the tips.

Their eyes are almond-shaped, large and very expressive being set nicely apart on a cat's face. Their eyes boast having dark around them which emphasises not only the shape, but their gorgeous colour too, especially as they are circled by a paler colour which forms spectacles. Cats have short dark lines on both sides of their eyes with inner lines being vertical whereas the outer lines point in the direction of a cat's ears. Eyes can either be rich shade of amber, green or hazel.

They have medium size, firm, lithe and well-muscled bodies with a cat's legs being long and their paws oval shaped. Tails are long and taper to the tip which adds to the overall well-balanced appearance of the Somali.

When it comes to their coat, the Somali can either have a short, close-lying very glossy coat or they can have a semi-long one. Both short and semi-long haired cats have well-defined ticking throughout their coats which is a characteristic of the breed. Each hair has at least three bands of ticking which results in six contrasting colours in every single hair from the root to the tip. However, any ticking develops quite slowly in kittens which usually starts on their shoulders when they are around 12 weeks old. A cat's ear tips and tufts as well as their facial markings, tufts on their toes, heels, top and tip of a cat's tail are the same colour as the ticking in their coats.

Semi-longhaired cats have soft, fine, dense coats that lie flat along their spines. The hair is semi-long all over their bodies with the exception of on their shoulders where it is shorter. Cats have lovely ruffs and full breeches which only develop over time. Tails form a full brush which adds to the well balanced look of a semi-longhaired Somali.

Short-haired Somalis boast having medium length hair that's close-lying, smooth, dense and fine do the touch. They do not have a ruff nor do they have breeches, toe tufts or a brush tail. Both short-hair and long-hair Somalis do not reach the full depth of their coat colour until they are fully mature. They come in an amazing array of colours which are as follows:

  • Usual
  • Sorrel
  • Chocolate
  • Blue
  • Lilac
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Cream
  • Usual Tortie
  • Sorrel Tortie
  • Chocolate Tortie
  • Blue Tortie
  • Lilac Tortie
  • Fawn Tortie
  • Usual Silver
  • Sorrel Silver
  • Chocolate Silver
  • Blue Silver
  • Lilac Silver
  • Fawn Silver
  • Red Silver
  • Cream Silver
  • Usual Tortie Silver
  • Sorrel Tortie Silver
  • Chocolate Tortie Silver
  • Blue Tortie Silver
  • Lilac Tortie Silver
  • Fawn Tortie Silver

Temperament

Like a lot of other breeds, the Somali likes a routine and doesn't particularly like it when this changes for any reason. They like to be fed at the same time of the day and don't appreciate it when furniture gets moved around the home. They adore being able to explore the great outdoors, but should only be allowed outside if it is safe for them to do so. The good news is that Somalis do adapt well to being kept as indoor pets as longs as they are given lots to do and enough attention because they adore being pampered.

They are known to be natural clowns and highly intelligent cats that enjoy being around the people they love. They form strong bonds with their owners and do not particularly like being left on their own for any great length of time. They are quite talkative and have more of a "chirrup" than a meow type voice. Somalis enjoy being involved in everything that goes on around them and will happily hold a conversation with their owners when spoken to.

They are extremely inquisitive by nature which is another of their endearing traits and with this is mind, the Somali prefers a high vantage point so they can watch what's going on below them. They also boast having a lot of energy and love playing interactive games like fetch which they are extremely good at. They are also known to like to have their owner's full attention which in short means they are best suited to families where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out and where they are not too many other cats, although they love the company of a dog they have grown up with.


Intelligence

Somalis are known to be highly intelligent cats that learn new things very quickly which includes playing games like "fetch" and chase the ball. Because they are so smart, Somalis need to be given lots to do even when owners are at home let alone when they are left to their own devices. Much like their canine cousins, a Somali will follow an owner from room to room just to keep an eye on what they are doing and are always quick off the mark when it comes to giving an opinion on something which is another of their endearing traits.


Children and Other Pets

Somalis with their outgoing, affectionate personalities are a good choice for families where the children are slightly older and who therefore know how to behave around cats. However, care has to be taken when very young children are around cats and any interaction should always be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm. With this said, young children need to be taught how to behave around cats and when it's time to leave them alone.

They also get on well with dogs especially if they have grown up together in the same household. However, care has to be taken when introducing a Somali to dogs they don't already know just in case the dog does not get on with their feline counterparts. Because they like to have an owner’s full attention, they often prefer to have the home to themselves although if they have grown up with another Somali, they usually get on well together. They are also known to be good around other pets although care has to be taken when a Somali first meets any smaller animals.


Health

The average life expectancy of a Somali is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Somali is known to be a healthy breed, but there is one health issue that seems to affect the breed which is worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these high energy, intelligent cats. The condition that seems to affect the breed the most is as follows:


Caring for a Somali

As with any other breed, Somalis need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. On top of this, cats need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives which is especially true of kittens and older cats.


Grooming

Somalis can boast having short, close lying coats or they can have semi-long coats. Shorthair cats are lower maintenance on the grooming front. A weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather is all it takes to keep their coats in good condition with a nice sheen on it. However, longer haired Somalis need to be brushed more often to prevent knots and tangles from forming in their coats. Like other breeds, they tend to shed the most in the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to keep on top of things.

It's also important to check a cat's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections. Cats often suffer from ear mites which can be a real problem which is why it's so important to check their ears on a regular basis.


Energy Levels/Playfulness

The Somali boasts being an energetic cat and one that adores playing interactive games with their owners. They like to be able to explore the great outdoors, but should only be allowed to go outside if it is safe for them to do so. The good news is that Somalis adapt well to being kept as indoor cats as long as they are given lots to do and given plenty of attention.

Cats kept as indoor pets need to be given lots of things to do and places to hide when they want to, bearing in mind that the Somali loves to climb up high so they look down on the world below from a high vantage point. They also need to have lots of places they can snuggle up for a snooze when the mood takes them because if there is one thing Somalis enjoys doing it's taking a cat nap or two during the day. 


Feeding

If you get a Somali kitten from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same kitten food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a kitten's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older cats are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature cat several times a day making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements which is especially important as cats get older. It's also essential to keep an eye on a cat's weight because if they start to put on too much, it can have a serious impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Like all other breeds, Somalis need access to fresh, clean water at all times.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Somali

If you are looking to buy a Somali, you would need to pay upwards of £400 for a well-bred pedigree kitten and you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because not many well-bred kittens are registered with the GCCF every year. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Somali in northern England would be £14.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £25.29 a month (quote as of October 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a cat's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a cat’s life. This would set you back between £15 - £20 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Somali and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a cat when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £600 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Somali would be between £40 to £60 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your cat, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred kitten.


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