This is an interesting collusion of things, actually. I’d been meaning to post for a while about unusual Abyssinians, particularly Tortie Abys. Through my emails to the National Aby Rescue, I’ve been turned onto the Homeless Abyssinians list posted on the website of Aksum Abyssinians in Atlanta (Aengus, the Red boy and the other Abys I posted about Wednesday are now on that list as well).
They also have an Aby newsletter to which you can subscribe. Of course, I’ve signed up, and in the process I’ve entered into a correspondence with Susan, the woman behind the cats at Aksum.
So I’ve been inspired to finish that post I’ve had waiting in the wings about tortie Abys (more properly called “torbie” Abys, since Abys are genetically tabbies), silvers, sex-linked red (which is different from the “red” or sorrel Abyssinians we’re more familiar with) and other colours outside of the Original Four.
While the CFA and other registries only recognise ruddy (“usual”), red (“sorrel”), blue and fawn Abys, they actually come in quite a few more colours than that. According to the UnsualAbycats website, there are 28 variations possible. I find it interesting that Abys come in all the colours other breeds do (except for white and white-spotted): black (ruddy/usual) and its dilute blue, sex-linked (“true”) red and its dilute cream, and all torbie variations, plus silver variations, and plus “red” (sorrel) and its dilute fawn, which is caused by the Cinnamon gene and isn’t seen in many cat breeds apart from Abys.
It’s thought that silver Abys were much, much more common in the early days of the breed in the late 1800’s; in fact, Aluminum II and Salt, the first two Abys imported into the US, were almost certainly silvers.
The other colours are being bred much more extensively in the UK (Crystalpaws Cattery in Essex has some great photos), Europe and Australia/New Zealand than they are in the States…which brings us back full circle: Aksum Abyssinians is one of the few American catteries working on the other variations. As Susan said in an email, “I’ve been asked to do an article on them for the Australian Aby fanciers, and I’ll be the new ACCA (Abyssinian Cat Club of America) newsletter editor, so I am quite sure more will be said about them and I am hoping to recruit other Aby breeders to the ‘new’ colors (they were added in the 70’s and 80’s).”
And how did I start looking into other Abyssinian colours in the first place? I made a random comment to about Abyssinians being a handful, and torties being a handful…but just imagine a tortoiseshell Aby! It’d be the perfect storm of cattitude!