The ancestors of the longhaired Somali were previously discarded from breeding programmes when they cropped up in the litters of the sleek Abyssinian. Today, however, Somalis are widely kept, and they are being developed in a growing range of colours. They are actually considered to be semi-longhairs, with their coats being longer on the tail, haunches and underparts — while there is also a profuse ruff beneath the head.
- BREED DEVELOPED: 1967
- COUNTRY: USA
- TYPE: Longhair
- BODY SHAPE: Strong and lean
- WEIGHS UP TO: 5.5kg / 12lb
- PLUS POINTS: Playful and demonstrative
- WATCH POINTS: May be jealous if ignored
The appearance of the Somali is somewhere between that of the cobby British Shorthair and the lithe outline of Oriental breeds, such as the Siamese. The blue colour in this case is of a steely-grey shade, being decidedly darker at the back of the hind legs and on the pads than elsewhere.
Although it may not be obvious, Somalis are tabby cats but, just as in the Abyssinian, there is no solid coloured barring or stripes on the coat. Instead, the hairs are ticked, which means they have alternate bands of light and dark coloration extending down their length, with the individual hairs always ending in a dark tip. Such cats retain the typical M-shaped marking on the head — a clear reflection of their tabby ancestry.
In the case of Silver forms of the Somali, the undercoat is a distinctive silvery-white colour. There may also be a trace of pure white hair below the nose extending to the chin, but this should be as small as possible. The Blue Silver Tortie Somali could be described as a tortie tabby, showing the distinctive variable reddish coloration superimposed on the coat, which reflects its tortie links. As in other cases, such cats are invariably female —tortie males are very rare, and invariably sterile on the occasions when they are bred.
- There is more ticking on the coats of the Somali than the Abyssinian, because the Somali’s fur is longer, with as many as 12 bands being apparent on close inspection on an individual hair.
- Somali kittens have short coats at birth and it may take up to 18 months for their coloration and coat to develop fully.