The Somali is a long-haired version of the Abyssinian cat. In the 1950s the breed spontaneously appeared when a number of Abyssinians were born with bushy tails and long coats. The Somali and the Abyssinian share many of the same traits; they are curious, active, smart and playful. They need plenty of space to play but should be kept indoors or in a run outside. The only real difference between the two is fur length and therefore the amount of grooming required. Since Somalis shed en masse twice a year, they shed very little excess hair most of the time.
This breed is often compared to a fox because of its striking bushy tail and ruddy coat. The Somali has a ticked coat with a black stripe down its back, a full ruff and breeches, and large ears. The only tabby marking on a show Somali is the “M” on the middle of the forehead, but some Somalis may have full tabby stripes on portions of their bodies. They have a dark rim around their eyes and only a small amount of white around their muzzles and throats.
Ruddy, red, blue and fawn are the four main accepted colors for Somalis in the US. Somalis are also known for their dental problems (some have even had to have all of their adult teeth removed). Breeders say they have made great strides in breeding this trait out.