abilki

abyssinians

Home: Things To Know & FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Below we answer the folling FAQs (those that are yet in gray font will be progressively answered):

Galdera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera Ikurra

  1. Which are the differences between mogie and purebred cats? >>
  2. What is a domestic cattery? >>
  3. Why not in pet-shops? >>
  4. Why is so important to request the Pedigree? >>
  5. Genetic tests, what for? >>
  6. Which are the characteristics of abyssinians? >>
  7. Which is the issue between Somalies and Abyssinians? >>
  8. Why are the prices among purebred cats so different? >>
  9. Why are prices of cats with pedigree so high? >>
  10. What to look after when buying a pure bred kitten? >>
  11. Homecoming for new cats:
    • Sanctuary Room
    • Check out for risk and avoid accidents
    • Nutrition
    • Health and the vet
  12. Play time and Training, what for? >>
  13. What are cat associations for? Which are the differences among them?
  14. Cat Shows, what for?
  15. Raw meat diet?
  16. Neutered cats don't they loose their natural way?
  17. Scientific facts and conclusions on Early neutering.

Any other question will also be welcome to be addressed to us using the mail provided in the About us section. If you wanna read answers as soon as we load them up, send your emails address to us in simple form below.

Galdera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera IkurraGaldera Ikurra

1. Which are the differences between mogie and purebred cats?

Knowing about the classification of cat types will help clarifying these differences. There are many ways to classify cats, but overall we will mention two: based on lifestyle and based on appearance.

Based on Lifestyl:

  • Wild cat or mountain cat (Felis silvestris): it is a cat from the wild or from the mountain that has evolved far apart from humans and in harmony with the wildlife.
  • Domestic cat (Felis catus): it is a cat that has some sort of close relationship with humans. To be domestic, thus, to have its lifestyle arranged in the proximity with humans, does not mean that it is socialized to be with humans. It could be a:
    • House cat or pet cat: it is a socialized cat that lives within homes with humans.
    • Street cat: it is a domestic cat that lives outside of a human home. It could be a:
      • Stray cat: it is a cat who lived indoors and was socialized to people at some point in its life, but left or lost its home and no longer has regular human contact. In the past, if the stray cat was enough socialized, it could be pet, but now it will become less socialized, even feral, if it spends too much time without positive interaction with humans. If a stray cat is re-introduced to regular human contact, it may become socialized again.
      • Feral cat: A feral cat is an unsocialized outdoor cat who has either never had any physical contact with humans, or human contact has diminished over enough time that she is no longer accustomed to it. Most feral cats are fearful of people and are not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors. Feral cats are devastating to wildlife, and conservation biologists consider them to be one of the worst invasive species on Earth. Their management is complicated. As it is shown in the study carried out by the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation of the University of Florida in the US in 2020, even though now a days the euthanasia is not socially well seen, the results of the currently more popular Trap-Neuter-Release programs are not consistent (see here the study: on the website or in the original PDF format).

Based on Appearance:

  • Moggy or not pure bred: it is a cat born from the crossing of cats with different appearance and behavior, with no aim to fix any characteristic. It's hard to foresee the appearance and behavior of kittens of moggies.
  • From a breed or Pure bred: it is a cat born from the crossing of cats that have similar physical ad behavioral (personality) traits with the goal to fix those characteristics. It can be foreseen that the kittens with have the appearance and behavior of their parents.
    • With Pedigree or registered: it is a cat that is registered in the "Book of Origins" of an official cat fancy association. Thanks to the cooperation carried out amongst these organizations, the cat breeds are verified and preserved, and their health is improved. The Breeding Rules of all these associations mandate all kittens to be born in human homes so they are raised and daily socialized with humans, and all kittens not to be placed in new homes before they are at least 3 months (12 weeks) olds, better if it's after 4 months (16 weeks).
    • With no registration or No Pedigree : a cat not registered in an official cat association. Because this type of cat is often bred carelessly, their breeders unintentionally resurface again typical illnesses of the breed, or they facilitate the establishment of new ones.

Overall, the majority of street cats that arrive to kennels and shelters are feral cats, and most pure bred cats have Pedigree. Therefore, their main difference is their level of socialization. The socialization period of cats is very limited, just between the 3rd week and the 7th week (maybe at most up to the 9th week) after being born:

  • In cats with Pedigree: they are daily weight (at least during the first 21 days after birth) and they are daily get used to be touched between play time, kisses and pats they are used to be constantly touched (tummies, paws,...), they get used to the maneuvers that judges will later carry out at the cat shows, they get used to the ins and outs of people at home, and, even though it's not necessary for kittens, they get used to conditioning routines (such as bathing, hair driers, trimming of claws, hair brushing, teeth brushing, ....). At the same time the mothers teaches them how to behave with other cats... Kitten cats with pedigree they become in the best companion pets. Actually, the older the Pedigreed cat is, the more socialized and trained the cat will be, and the less destructive behavior of kitten it will show. A big plus to consider, especially for new owners that have never lived with and trained a cat before.
  • In feral cats: if they are older than 9 weeks old, it's almost impossible that it will become in a cat that enjoys laying on laps. If they are younger and are distanced from their mother, there could be chances to get more docile, but many kittens arrive to kennels and shelters and voluntaries personal is limited. Plus, if kittens are separated from mothers too soon, beside the possible health problems from weaning them too soon, they won't learn to behave correctly amongst other cats. Even if voluntaries try doing their best, these kittens will never achieve the same socialization level that will be obtained at home of a responsible registered breeder (of Pedigreed cats) .

2. What is a domestic cattery?

The are different types of breeders, with different goals and procedures. Simplifying a lot, we could narrow them down to two: Factory-style breeders and Domestic breeders.

  • Factory-style breeders' main goal is to get as much money-profit as possible and, to do so, they require to have many animals in the minimum possible space and to spend as little money as possible in the expenses of each animal. They have so many animals, that they tend to keep them in big stable-kind of installations outside of the human homes, so the animals are not used to live with humans. Since they breed many animals fast, these breeders can sell animals cheap and still have profit. Most animals destined for human consumption or food are bred in this style.
  • Domestic breeders' goal is to care, maintain, improve and breed an animal breed for companionship at their homes. They are usually responsible breeders that will spend on the health of their animals all is needed and more, as if their animals would be family members. Because their goal is to breed companionship pet animals, all their animals are born at the homes of the breeders and are raised among the people living at home. A domestic or home cattery is where home-style breeding takes place.

Domestic catteries are usually registered in an international cat fancy association so, thanks to the collaboration with other breeders of their same breed, they can keep improving the health and characteristics of their breed. The registered cattery name is the last name that all the kittens born at the home of the breeder will carry on their birth certificate or Pedigree. All the breeders have to follow the Breeding Rules of the association that have been elaborated and agreed with the help of veterinarians. In all Cat Associations all kittens need to be born and grow within a home of humans, because the goal is to breed companionship pet animals. Therefore, all Pedigreed cat breeders are domestic catteries. The amount of cats that can live in a home is limited, the cost are high, and , therefore, the sale cost of one of their kittens is usually high, even though the cost is usually aimed just to try to compensate or recover the expenses. And when there might be any surplus or gain, this does not take into a count the time the breeder has spent with all the kittens, there fore the gains are not worth to make a living. So breeding is more a passion than a job.

Unfortunately, there are cat breeders that sell cats for companionship that are raised in a factory-style breeding system. These are not registered in a cat fancy association, their kittens are not born and raised at home of their breeders and, therefore, are not socialized or habituated to live with humans. They sell them at very cheap prices and often too young and with no heath warranty, Since their kittens are not socialized, they are placed without being neutered and no necessary genetic tests are done to their parents, these kittens have high chances to develop behavioral and health issues and, because they are cheap, people more easily abandon them.

Therefore, non-registered breeders and their costumers are amongst the main responsibles for the abandonment and overpopulation of cats. On the contrary, domestic cattery breeders we place or sell few cats, and always just to those responsible new owners that can and are willing to share with us or pay us the cost. An owner that has paid the real cost of a cat does not abandon the cat, even far less, when the cat shows a magnificent and lovingly behavior because it's been neutered and socialized. Pedigreed cats do not end up in streets and shelters (unless they are accidentally lost), thus, we are not the enemies of street cats, we are their helpers instead. If pedigreed cats do not end up in streets and/or shelters, street cats have higher chances to be adopted. Further more, we create new responsible owners and cat lovers.

3. Why not in pet-shops?

Because shops it is impossible for shops to fulfill the Breeding Rules of cat associations, because in shops it is impossible to implement the hygiene, health and socialization requirements that kittens need.

From the health's perspective, for a kitten nursed with its mother's milk it is impossible to get the whole vaccination protocol before the age of 4 months old. The vaccination should start no sooner than week 12 old (3 months old), so it is not neutralized by the mother's milk, and it should consist of two rounds of shots given 3 weeks a part, before annual boosters are effectively provided. If the kitten is weaned or separated from the mother sooner, the vaccination procedure is more expensive because more vaccination rounds would be needed (every 2 weeks) since the kitten won't have the protection of the mother's milk and it's immune system is not yet capable of producing lasting immunity until the age of 3 months old, plus the kitten won't get proper socialization from its mother. So for shops it is not profitable to fulfill the correct vaccination protocol.

Shops have been, so far, the dealers of the sales of kittens from factory-style breeders. Therefore, they are the enablers of the irresponsible breeders.

For all the reasons above, in cat associations it is forbidden to show and/or sell pedigreed cats and/or their kittens in shops.

4. Why is so important to request the Pedigree?

Before paying anything, it is important that you always request beforehand the original Pedigree certificate of the kitten or cat that you are being offered.

A Pedigree is not just a family tree, but a Certificate from an International Cat Association that warrants that the specific kitten or cat was bred following the Breeding Rules of the Association that look after the health of the mother, the father, the kittens and the breed. When a Breeder does not follow the rules, the breeder is sanctioned with no Pedigrees to be issued for his or her cattery for a period of time. For example, a mother cat can not give birth to more than 3 litters within a period of two years (this is, a litter every 8 moths, which in practical terms means a litter per years and unexpected litter in an occasional year). If she if she delivers more litters, the sanctioned period will be useful to enforce the breeder to let the female have a mandatory rest, since kittens that are born within the sanctioned period will never be able to be registered and have a Pedigree, thus those kittens will never be able to be registered as breeding cats, nor be able to complete in Cat Shows, thus, the breeder will not be able to place those kittens with new responsible owners.

Pet-shops cannot provide a Pedigree, because all responsible International Cat Associations (FIFe, CFA, TICA, …) do not allow to sell kittens through shops, because shops cannot implement the necessary hygienic and socialization measures that is necessary for a kitten to evolve into a healthy and social companionship animal. All purebred kitten with Pedigree need to be born and raised at home with humans.

Pet-shops sometime cheat by providing a genealogic tree, but this one will not have the seal and signature of any association that certify that the required genetic test and clinic examinations needed for each breed has taken place. Sanctioned breeders and breeders that are not registered may cheat by showing the pedigrees of the parents of the kitten or cat offered, but that just means that the parent cats were raised correctly, but that doesn’t mean that the offered kitten is being raised correctly.

Always request their pedigree beforehand and unconditionally. Be suspicious if the breeder gives you excuses not to show you the pedigree of the kitten or the cat being offered.

The pedigrees of all our Abyssinian kittens and adults are displayed within the “description” on their respective pages in our website.

5. Genetic tests, what for?

Through parents that share same traits or characteristics, those traits are eventually fixed or perpetuated. Not only appearance and behavioral traits can get fixed, also genetic diseases could get perpetuated.

Most of the traits of all animals are "written" or coded in the genes. Genes are collected in chromosomes, and we have two copies of all the chromosomes. Cats have 19 pairs of chromosomes and humans we have 23 pairs. We obtain one copy of all the chromosomes from each parent, and we only pass one of our copies to our children, thus new children again have 2 sets or copies.

Sometimes a single gene is responsible for one trait, and the laws of simple genetics take place (also known as mendelian genetics). In this case, we have two copies of gene of that trait, and each copy is called allele. Cats also have two alleles of each gene. A gene can have different variations or versions. A letter is assigned to each gene and a version of that letter is assigned to each variation of that gene. For example, the letter "B" is assigned to the gene of the black-color of the hair, and its alleles (variations) could be these: black (B), brown (b), sorrel/cinnamon (bl), ... When the two alleles of the gene of one trait are the same, it is said that the animal is homozygous in that trait, and when the two alleles are different, the animal is said to be heterozygous in that trait. In the cats that are homozygous in one trait, the characteristic of that allele will be physically seen in them, but if they are heterozygous, only the characteristics of the stronger allele will be seen. The stronger allele is called dominant allele and is assigned with a capital letter, because it is dominates the other allele. The weak allele is called recessive allele and is assigned with a lowercase letter, because its characteristic is faded or hidden. The observable physical trait is called phenotype, and the real allele combination behind that trait is called genotype. Some phenotypes can have different genotypes configurations, when they are heterozygous in that trait, and it is said that it is a carrier of the allele whose characteristic can not be seen. The Black allele in cats is so completely dominant, that it is impossible to say (just by looking at it) if a ruddy (black) Abyssinian cat is carrier of the sorrel/cinnamon and/or dilution alleles or not.

In the past, carriers of traits and/or genetic diseases could only be sorted out if their parents or their offspring were homozygous. Nowadays, it can be sorted out with PCR genetic tests, and thus some diseases of simple genetic nature can be removed from the breed: PKD, retinal atrophy, ... Those traits and diseases that are affected simultaneously by various genes, nowadays are not yet well understood and have no PCR test. In genetic diseases with no genetic tests available yet, physical examinations are carried out to the parents: umbilical hernia, dysplasia, heart diseases, ... Some diseases have no effective physical examinations neither, but can only be confirmed with a biopsy or with a necropsy (once the cat is dead), such is the case of Amyloidosis.

Each cat breed has its own diseases of origin, and in the Breeding Rules of the Cat Associations are mentioned the test that are mandatory and advised for each cat breed (in FIFe Breeding and Registration Rules, 2022, pp.7,29-30). Responsible breeders that have cleaned those diseases or trying their best to clean them out, make the results of the test of their cats public.

At ABILKI cattery, the results of the genetic tests and the physical examinations of each of our breeding cats are displayed on their respective profile pages.

6. Which are the characteristics of abyssinians?

Its behavior is usually full of energy and curiosity, thus, it seems it wants to take part in all the activities taking place at home. It loves to be with the people it shares their home with, but it dislikes to be forced to be hold on the arms of people for too long. Even if it can be very social with people from home and even with visitors, it tends to create a stronger bond with its favorite human. Overall it is very social, including with other pets (if proper introductions is done between them).

The main physical traits of the Abyssinian cat are two factors or characteristics that affect the configuration of the black hairs: the Agouti gene and the Tabby patern gene.

  1. Agouti gene (A): it is responsible for the distribution of the black color within each hair. It has two main variations: A (the dominant agouti or ticked allele: at least two marks of the black color, with the tip of the hair ending in that color) and a (the recessive solid color allele: a single solid black color above the base of each hair). All Abyssinians are homozygous Agouti, this is, their two alleles are AA.
  2. Tabby gene (T): it is responsible for the pattern formed by the distribution of the solid black hairs (think of strips the tiger, the animal). There are different alleles: T+ (mackerel or tiger), Ts (spotted), Ta (ticking), tb (blotched: marbled). All Abyssinians are homozygous in ticking tabby pattern: TaTa. If one of the alleles would be different, TaT+ for instance, the ticking would be partially dominant, thus the ticking tabby pattern would be visible , but with some strips or rings on the legs and tail. Ring and strip traces are penalized in the Standard description of the Abyssinian.

Therefore, all Abyssinians in genetic results are homozygous in agouti and in ticking tabby pattern. Their solid colored hairs are so dispersed that the evidence of darker areas are mostly noticeable on the head-ears, on the back bone and on the tail (especially in the tip of the tail), and on tips of the legs and on the paws and tips of the legs:

Agouti hairs are dominant in the majority of the body:

Color wise, 3 genes participate in the 8 color phenotypes recognized for Abyssinians:

  • B (the gene of Black color): its alleles are: B (black) and bl (sorrel/cinnamon).
  • D (the gene of the dilution of the color): its alleles are: D (solid color) and d (dilution of the color: thus the cats with black color are seen blue/gray and the cats with sorrel/cinnamon color are seen as fawn)
  • I (the gene of the yellow color in the agouti hairs): its alleles are i (it facilitates the production of yellow pigment) and I (it inhibits or blocks the production of yellow pigment).

FIFe Cat Association recognizes 8 phenotypes in Abyssinian cats: 4 basic colors (ruddy/black, sorrel, blue and fawn) and their 4 silver variations. The following chart shows the different genotype options for each phenotype (considering the combination of the alleles of the 3 genes mentioned above):

  • The 4 colors of the Basic Phenotypes:
    Genotipo aukerak Erbia
    (ABY n)
    Gorrizka
    (ABY o)
    Urdina
    (ABY a)
    Beixa
    (ABY p)
    1st option B B - D D - i i bl bl - D D - i i B B - d d - i i bl bl - d d - i i
    2nd option B bl - D D - i i bl bl - D d - i i B bl - d d - i i
    3rd option B B - D d - i i
    4th option B bl - D d - i i
  • Zilar aldaeren beste 4 fenotipoak:
    Genotipo aukerak Zilar Erbia
    (ABY ns)
    Zilar Gorrizka
    (ABY os)
    Zilar Urdina
    (ABY as)
    Zilar Beixa
    (ABY ps)
    1st option B B - D D - I I bl bl - D D - I I B B - d d - I I bl bl - d d - I I
    2nd option B bl - D D - I I bl bl - D d - I I B bl - d d - I I bl bl - d d - I i
    3rd option B B - D d - I I bl bl - D D - I i B B - d d - I i
    4th option B bl - D d - I I bl bl - D d - I i B bl - d d - I i
    5th option B B - D D - I i
    6th option B bl - D D - I i
    7th option B B - D d - I i
    8th option B bl - D d - I i

As it can be seen in the chart above, with 5 types of alleles (B, bl, D, d, i) the 4 basic phenotype colors are obtained. For the conformation of these 4 phenotype colors there are 9 genotype options: ruddy color represent the 44% (4 genotypes out of 9), sorrel color represent the 22% (2 genotypes out of 9), blue color represent the 22% (2 genotypes out of 9), and fawn color represent the just 11% (a single genotypes out of 9). Therefore, the ruddy color is the most prominent amongst all the basic colors, so it can be considered as the representative of the Abyssinian breed with no doubt.

With the silver allele (I) the other 4 colors (the silver variations) will be obtained. But because this allele is also dominant, with this allele 8 phenotype colors are possible and, as it can be seen in the chart above, besides the former 9 genotypes, 18 additional genotypes will possible. They will sum up 27 genotypes and the ruddy color would only represent almost a 15%, the other basic colors will be even less represented, and the silver variations will reign with the 67% of the representation. In this link you can take a look at a picture of a silver sorrel and a silver ruddy Abyssinians.

At the ABILKI cattery we only work with the 4 basic colors. However, the probabilities of the expected phenotypes of each litter it is limited by the genotype of the two parents of each litter. In the profile or web-page of each litter we point out those probabilities and also the colors that are finally born. In our cattery, so far we do not yet have parents with the genotype combination that will allow us getting kittens of fawn color. In the following two pictures, in a clockwise direction, examples of blue, ruddy and sorrel colors are shown.

At the Pictures section of our website you can take a look at more examples of the basic Abyssinian colors:

  • With ruddy color (ABY n): Lehena, Flash, Bihurri, Ilun, Handi,...
  • With sorrel color (ABY o): Larain
  • With blue color (ABY a): Jina, Urdin

7. Which is the issue between Somalies and Abyssinians?

The Somali cat is an Abyssinian variation of long hair that appeared in abyssinian cats, and it was created by the mutated genes tat control de length of the hairs (here there are some pictures of them). Nowadays 4 gene mutation are known to affect the hair length of cats, and all of them are recessive. Therefore, the carriers of an allele of a the long hair (those cats thar are heterozygous in at least one of those 4 genes) will show short hair phenotype and, like those that are not carriers, they will look like Abyssinian cats.

In 1979 the Somali breed was recognized by the North American cat association of CFA, and later, in 1981 it was recognized by the European cat association of FIFe.

When the only differences in their Standards is the hair length and/or the pattern of the coat. the two cat breeds are said to be Sister Breeds. The cross breeding between them sometimes is allowed, especially, to improve their respective genetic pool (and thus to strengthen their health agains diseases):

  • In the association CFA, since the Somali breed was recognized, the entry of Somalies in the pedigrees of Abyssinian cats is not permitted, but it is permitted the cross-breeding with and the entry of Abyssinian cats in the pedigrees of Somali cats. This means, that the offspring of Somali cats, even if they are of shorthair phenotype and look like Abyssinians, they are all registered on the pedigree Book of Somali cats. The reason behind it, it seems to be that while Somali breed still needs to strengthen its gene pool, in North America the Abyssinian cats supposedly have a diverse and strong enough gene pool.
  • In the association FIFe, however, the cross-breeding between both sister-breeds is permitted, and all shorthair phenotypes are registered as Abyssinians, while only the phenotype with longhair are registered as Somali.

Abyssinian breeders in Europe (FIFe) and in North America (CFA) agreed and tried not to enter Somalies any longer into the Abyssinians, because as we have explained in the questions number 5 and number 6, some genetic traits are fast diluted when new alleles are introduced, and to bring back the quality of those traits could be a hard work of several generations. In the decade of 1990, a European breeder introduced a shorthaired phenotype daughter of Somali cat into the breeder's breeding program. Since many of its offspring were expanded in FIFe, to ensure the purity of the breed, in the association CFA it is established that to enter an Abyssinian cat from FIFe into the CFA Book of Origins as an Abyssinian cat, there should be no Somali (homozygous in longhair) in 7 generations above the cat.

Some breeders think 7 generations is not enough and that all Abyssinian looking cats with any Somali ancestry after 1979 should appear only in the pedigrees of Somali. Other breeders, however, think that it is enough. Thus, in this Abyssinian-Somali debate, overall there are two types breeders: strict purist breeders (the first ones) and flexible breeders (the second ones).

Which is the point of view of the ABILKI cattery in this debate? The answer is not easy, nor white-and-black. The description of our journey will help understanding our current point of view. As we explain in the section About Us, after a long journey, we went to an especial Abyssinian cat show organized by FIFe in Denmark, where we met the champion breeders of high quality Abyssinians, and with them we obtained our first two female Abyssinians of Show quality: Isolde (aka Lehena) and Jina.

Our first litters were achieved thanks to external Stud services. In the our search for high quality Stud service, we encounter with some strict breeders that treated very kindly and with a lot of respect, and thanks to them we learned about the Abyssinian-Somali debate and how to search information in ancestors above those shown in the Pedigree certificates. Even if there was no Somali in sightin within the information of the 7 generations above of the ancestors that we obtained from the very helpful breeders of our two first females, the strict breeders taught us that they had a Somali ancestor in their far distant ancestry in their 8th and 11th generation above, respectively. Therefore, the breeders of my first two females were flexible breeders of high Exhibition quality (in the close ancestors of my females, there are FIFe World Winners Abyssinians). With their help, and with a lot of effort, we managed to obtain our first Stud services.

Because the Stud service procedure is very expensive (due to flights), we knew that we needed to bring a male into the ABILKI cattery. He brought a male from a flexible breeder from Europe, but it turned out to be a bad stud (aka tom or sire) and, like many Abyssinians with a Somali ancestry in the far distant, we learnt it had a high level of inbreeding. Therefore, we started to search for a second male among Abyssinians with no Somali ancestry ... but in the process we learned that among strict breeders of high quality in Europe there are having troubles with Amyloidosis disease (here the website of the researchers). If that was not enough, we also learnt that in both type of breeders (strict and flexible breeders) the parasite Tritrichomonas Foetus is very spread (here the most current research study) and thanks to Dr Jody Gookin, the director for the research laboratory for this parasite at the North Carolina State univerty (here its website) and the breeders with much experience that have collaborated with her in the research, we learnt how to manage it (here the guide) so the all adults cats and kittens are free from it and are raised healthy.

In front of these adversities, among both type of breeders (strict and flexible) we have encounter with responsible breeders (those that participate in research projects and that are happy and sincerely willing to share information) and with irresponsible breeders (those who keep information for themselves and that do not participate in research projects).

With all that we have learnt so far in our journey, this what we currently think about the 4 main arguments given by some strict breeders regarding the Abyssinian-Somali debate:

1st strict argument: "early Abyssinian breeders worked hard and for decades to breed unwanted features (including the longhair) out of the breed. Re-introducing them is not something that most breeders of today (and probably even less so those from the past) would appraise. "

Our point of view: We agree that early breeders did a hard work because, as we explained in the questions number 5 and number 6 above, some genetic traits may dissipate fast when new allele variations are incorporated. But if for a certain reason (for instance, to widen the genetic pool of Abyssinian in Europe) a breeder introduced a Somali ancestor and repeated again the hard work of the former breeders , we think that the work could be appraised, especially if, after 7 to 8 generations later, it obtains Abyssinians that succeed in cat shows. This path is not an easy one, in our journey we have met flexible breeders that had excellent results in the competitions with Abyssinians that had a far-distance Somali ancestry, but they have become strict breeders because in Europe it was very tough to get collaboration.

2nd strict argument: "Breeds are not defined by genes and cannot be distinguished via genetic testing (...) the gene responsible for the blue color phenotype phenotypic blue color for example is the same whether it comes from a Russian Blue, Abyssinian, Maine Coon, Persian or any other breed! The same thing goes for the black gene. Each gene is the same for all cats no matter the length of the hair (...) All breeds are genetically cats, so cat breeds are not defined by their genetics, instead they are defined by those having created them and via history, tradition, standard, selection, and ancestral choices. "

Our point of view: it is true that there is no way to determine the breed of a cat by just analyzing one gene. The gene of Dilution and the gene of Black color is the same in all cat breeds. For that reason, the group of genotype combinations, that manage to ensure the phenotype or the appearance, is what makes a breed. Some traits follow mendelian genetics rules (such as color, dilution and hair length), but some other traits follow the yet not well understood complex laws of poligenetics (bone structure, some diseases, ...).

Cat breeds, though, have no relationship with the characteristics of the human breeder, but with genes that breeders have stabilized through their work over cat generations to get and fix the traits of the Standard of the breed. Therefore, breeds have been created by the effect of genetics, even when breeders knew nothing about genetics. The knowledge of genetics is yet sort of new and, even though we have some traits very well defined, there are many yet to be understood.

3rd strict argument: "Or, look at the following example and listen carefully to the video: These two mice look phenotypically completely different yet their genome is absolutely identical! ".

The video explains the research study about epigenetics carried out by Dr. Dana Dolinoy. There are two version: her slides presentation from 2008* and the excellent in person talk from 2012** that Dr. Dolinoy herself gave at University of Michigan.

* source: 123longevity. (2011, April 24). A Tale of Two Mice July 2008 [Video]. YouTube.

** source: University of Michigan School of Public Health. (2012, May 17). Epigenetics, or Why DNA Is not Your Destiny [Video]. YouTube.

Our point of view: This argument tries to use the research study about epigenetics of Dr. Dolinoy. The study demonstrates that some diseases are not a result of defect in the genes, but instead they are the result of the activation or deactivation of healthy genes that the epigenetics carry out under the influence of the environment; this way, two identical twins with the same DNA and alleles (identical genotype) can develop a different phenotype because of the epigenetics, in other words, because of the environment one twin can develope a disease and the other one not, even though they both have the same healthy DNA. The Study proofs how the pulution of the environment (such the daily use of some type of plastics) can make some genes to be deactivated and, at the same time, through an specific diet those genes can be reactivated, so they again work properly. In this whole process the genes are identtical, only the epigenetics are changed.

Scientist are recently starting to learn about the mechanisms of epigenetics, and they still have a long path to go before they can understand epigenetics correctly and with precision. Therefore, to use the argument of epigenetics in favor of the strict breeders in the Abyssinain-Somali debate shows that the video was not understood. The strict breeders that use this argument suggest that a Somali cat, that is homozygous in the long hair allele, with epigenetics could manage to look like a shorthaired Abyssinian cat, and that is currently impossible.

As it can be watched in the video, the capacity to generate the trait is in the DNA (in the alleles of the genes), so epigenetics can not deactivate or activate an allele that does not exist in the DNA. Nowadays 4 alleles are known to be responsible for the longhair in cats, therefore, it is impossible for an Abyssinian cat doesn't carry any of those alleles to develop the longhair phenotype nor to have longhaired offspring. If the mutated genes of the longhair alleles of a far distant ancestor are lost, they are lost forever. Neither by looking at it, nor by genetic testing, it is impossible to differentiate this Abyssinian from an Abyssinian with no Somali ancestry.

Further more, in the mentioned study they modify the epigenetic using the environment (foods), but considering that all responsible breeders we use the same food of high quality, with this video it's impossible to suggest that there are breeders that know how to control epigenetics with food. If a breeder would know how control epigenetic with food, it would mean that the breeder would understand and control epigenetics better than Dr. Dolinoy herself, and the breeder could easily summit a research study and become famous. Such study has not yet been published.

Therefore, this argument is nonsense, because a cat whose genetic test results show that it does not carry any of the 4 mutations of the longhair genes can not be a Somali and won't be able to have Somali offspring, since epigenetics can not activate or deactivate alleles that are not present in the DNA.

4th strict argument: "Fortunately, the Abyssinian cat has remained a popular breed up to now and does not suffer from limited genetic diversity (...) Therefore, there is currently no need to hybridize the Abyssinian breed as it was necessary back in the 60s when most Abys have been destroyed in Europe during WW II or a little later again when FeLV almost eradicated the breed again."

Our point of view: in our journey to bring a male Stud into our cattery we encountered that among some flexible breeders there is a high level of inbreeding and we did not get a male that sired well. And later, when we searched for a male among the strict breeders, we learned about the Amyloidosis disease (see link about it above, in the 10th paragraph of this question). Therefore, this argument does not apply to Europe, here the Abyssinian cat is not the most common breed, and we are seeing that the genetic diversity is limited. For that reason, we are searching our new male among the ones in North America.

The goal of the ABILKI home -cattery:

For all that is explained above, to responsibly widen the genetic diversity of European Abyssinians of show quality, we want to bring a male Abyssinian cat from North America and we are in the process for searching for it. If it is possible we want him not to have any Somali ancestry and that comes from a breeder that handles its inbreeding levels in a responsible and limited manner, so in the future, in case that we would need to replace the females, we could also collaborate with responsible strict breeders.

Even though the analysis of the Pedigrees can be helpful, our intention is to keep with our procedure of genetic testing all our progenitor Abyssinians, to verify that they are not carriers of alleles that could mess up with the main Abyssinian phenotypes, this means to verify that they won't have any of the 4 longhaired alleles, nor any alleles that are different from the colors B, bl, D, d and i.

At least in Europe, we won't boycott the Abyssinians that have a far Somali ancestry, it they have no Somali in 7 generations above and if they are genetically tested not to be carriers of the longhair alleles and of alleles of non recognized colors, and if the results on cat shows prove with consistency their hard work to fulfill the Abyssinian Standard.

For us the most important thing is to find a breeder or a group of breeders that follow responsible breeding procedures and that collaborate with other breeders in a respectful and sincere manner. Breeders that will share with no fear the challenges and doubts that may cross our paths and that are willing to try to clarify those challenges in a friendly manner and with the collaboration of veterinarians and scientists. Breeders that place the wellbeing of the Abyssinian cats above personal interests.

Last but not least, we think that it cool be very interesting if the main International Cat Associations would facilitate scientific research studies of the current genetic diversity (population genetics) of the Abyssinian and the other cat breeds. Their results might even be useful to help guiding the reproduction programs of the big felines that are in danger in the wild, or the current research methods on those big felines might help to develop farther the breeding rules of pure bred Cats (such establishing objective criteria and indexes of when and how to limit crossings between sister-breeds).

8. Why are the prices among purebred cats so different?

There are 2 main variables when the price of a pure bred cat is considered: the quality (or function) of the cat and the conditions among breeders.

Three CAT qualities (or functions) can be classified overall within a cattery: show cat, breeding cat, and companionship cat.

  1. Show cat: when it fulfills the Standard of its breed very well, has a friendly attitude towards strangers, and, therefore, it will have good results in exhibitions or cat shows.
  2. Breeding cat: a breeding male is also known as Stud, Tom or Sire, and the breeding female is also known as Queen (because as it similarly happens in bee hives, the queen is the only one with offspring and the rest of females are usually sterilized).
    • Good breeding cat: when it fits one of these two cases,
      • It fulfills the Standard as well as a Show cat, but in the cat shows it gets nervous, however at home she is an excellent mother, or he is a very prolific father or stud.
      • It might not fulfill the standard as well as a Show cat, however, in its pedigree there are ancestors of high quality Show cats and, therefore, it could produce kitten that could obtain good results in the cat shows.
    • Poor breeding cat: when it fits one of these two cases,
      • It has no Show cat quality and there are low chances that any of its offspring could be of show cat quality, because in its ancestry there are no cats with show quality.
      • Sometimes it can be of Show cat quality, but it can be at the same time a bad parent (in the case of a male, because it does not get females pregnant, or in the case of females, because she has difficult deliveries or because she poorly take care of the kittens).
  3. Companionship or Pet cat:
    • With faults in the Standard of the breed: these are sterilized (neutered or spayed) and are sold by the cost-price.
    • Retired breeder: a breeding cat whose breeding cycle is over and is sterilized (neutered or spayed). Each female are often normally bred 5 times at the most in her lifetime, therefore, these females need an opportunity and often are placed in new homes for a residual-cost. These tend are normally be the cheapest.

    A breeding female may be worth double the price of a Companionship cat. A breeding male is more expensive than a breeding female, because he can be bred constantly and for longer and, if that was not enough, its owner can request stud service fees for each sired kitten. Show males may be even more expensive.

    At the ABILKi family and home cattery our goal is not to gain money. Our goal is instead to contribute to perpetuate and improve the breed and deepen our knowledge in cat training. When trying to improve seriously the breed, even if many of our Abyssinians are of show and breeding quality, only the best individuals participate in our breeding program, the remaining are sterilized and we try to place them in new homes for companionship in exchange of a cost-price. The goal of the price is trying to recover or balance the expenses of the breeding program.

Last, regarding purchase conditions there are two types of cat BREEDERS:

    1. Those that place or sell their kittens at 3 months old: they require the new owner to directly assume all the extra expenses (of neutering, giving the necessary 4 months old booster of the vaccinations, and they normally don’t provide the Pedigree firsthand nor they will give a Health Warranty).
    2. those that place or sell their kittens at 4 months old or older (before 2 years old): with all the vaccination process completed, and the neutering surgery, the Pedigree and a Health Warranty included, plus a month more at least of proper socialization, food and litter). This is the case of the ABILKI cattery (in this link the concepts included in our contract are listed).

    When comparing the prices between the two type of breeders it is important to bear in mind that with kittens placed at 3 months old, the new owners will have to pay 400 euros more on their own in the following month. In the ABILKI kittens, though, all those costs are included within the contract. However, at the ABILKI cattery, the minimum age of kittens to be placed in their new homes is not negotiable, because for us the most important thing is to ensure the best positive outcome for both sides, our kittens and their new homes. This way we create successful stories between cats and humans, and we help eradicate the abandonment of companionship cats that end up on the streets and in shelters, a problem that is often the result of careless breeders and buyers (because they prioritize a fast and cheap transaction over the hard work that is required to ensure the kittens have healthy genetics and a socialized and adaptable behavior).

9. Why are prices of cats with pedigree so high?

At the ABILKI Abyssinian cattery, only the best individuals of our litters participate in our breeding program. The remaining, although many of them are of excellent show quality, are sterilized and placed in new homes as companionship cats in exchange of a cost-price. The purpose of the price is to try to recover and balance the costs of the breeding program.

The cost price of a kitten has 4 variables: the costs of the females, the costs of the males, the costs of the kitten itself, and the costs of the cattery.

  1. The costs of the Females:
  2. In our breeding program a female can have up to 5 litters in her life. Each female would only deliver a litter once a year, so after 5 years (or 5 litters), the breeding female would be retired and sterilized to live a healthy and prosperous companionship or pet life and, depending on the situation, she would be placed in a new home. Abyssinian cats usually give birth to 2.5 kittens per litter. The costs of 2 to 3 females during these 5 years should be shared among each of their kittens. These are the costs:

    • One time costs:
      • purchase of the females
      • flight ticket to complete the purchase
      • genetic PCR tests and clinical tests
      • ownership homologation at the cat association
      • cost of spaying (when their contribution to the breeding program is over).
    • Annual costs:
      • food
      • litter for the litter boxes
      • vaccines
      • routine treatments against parasites
      • entry fees at cat shows
  3. The costs of the Males:
  4. Since most intact males do mark through spraying, it is hard to manage males in a domestic or home cattery, and often a wooden shed is built in a garden following the specifications of the rules of the cat association which considers lighting, ventilation and heating. For that reason, many home catteries only have females and use external stud services. At the ABILKI cattery we started with external stud services, but eventually we got ready to have males of our own.

    With each new generation of females, the males must also be renewed or exchanged. Therefore, the costs of the next male will also have to be shared between the kittens that it will sire:

    • One time costs:
      • purchase of the male.
      • flight ticket to complete the purchase.
      • genetic PCR tests and clinical tests
      • ownership homologation at the cat association
      • stud certificate at the cat association
      • a garden wooden shed with its adaptations (lighting, ventilation, heating, fencing, ...).
      • cost of neutering (when their contribution to the breeding program is over).
    • Annual costs:
      • food
      • litter for the litter boxes
      • vaccines
      • routine treatments against parasites
      • entry fees at cat shows
  5. The costs of the Kitten itself:
  6. When using external stud services, a fee has to be paid to the owner of the male per each of the kittens of the litter. If that was not enough, the matings usually take place at the home of the male, therefore another fee is also required to be paid to the owner while he or she takes care of the female. Farther more, in breeds where there are few stud males of high quality, like in the case of Abyssinian, the owners of the females have to take two round-trip flights: one to bring the female to the cattery of the male, and another one to bring the pregnant female back home.

    All those concepts and the expenses of each litter have to be shared between each kitten, and be summed up to the costs of their own:

    • Costs to be shared among each kitten of the litter:
      • 2 round-trip flight tickets to take and bring the female when using a external stud service.
      • hosting feeds while the owner of the male takes care of the female
      • an ultrasound image to confirm the pregnancy
      • two x-ray images to prepare the delivery
      • Cardboard nest for the litter.
      • First aid kit for deliveries: electric mats, silicone bags for hot water, cotton sheets, clinical absorbent sheets for bed-protection, latex gloves, feline milk formula, ...
      • Food and litter for the female during her 2 months of gestation
      • Food and litter for the female during her 4 months of lactation
      • Deworming and other treatments against parasites for the female
    • Own Costs of each kitten:
      • stud service fee (per kitten) to the owner of the male.
      • special transition foods for kittens
      • common dry food
      • registration in the cat association (Pedigree)
      • Microchip and Passport
      • Complete vaccination protocol
      • Deworming
      • Sterilization surgery and recovery treatment.
      • Transfer documentation for the new owner.
      • Welcome kit for the arrival at the new home
  7. The costs of the Cattery:
  8. Besides specific cat furniture, there are also annual costs to be paid:

    • One time costs:
      • Registration of the cattery in an international cat association.
      • Cat-furniture at home: cat-trees, scratchers, ...
      • Materials for cat shows: exhibition cages, foldable fabric play pens, conditioning instruments, back pack organizer for cat-shows, electric thermo-cooler box to bring food with us, presentation cards, ...
      • Food and water bowls
      • Litter boxes
      • A cage for quarantines and treatments.
    • Annual costs:
      • Membership fee of the cat association
      • First aid kit (digital thermometers with flexible edge, antiseptics, medicines, ...)
      • Disinfectant for cleaning the surfaces of the cattery
      • The domain and hosting of the website

The goal of the ABILKI cattery was to recover back or balance out all this expenses through the kittens to be born within the next 10 years, by applying the characteristics we described above (2 to 3 litters per year, and hoping for 2.5 kittens per litter), this is, almost selling 7 kittens per year. This way, the following would be the cost-price with no profit for each kitten:

    COST
    types
    VALUES
    (in Euros)
    1. Costs of the male per kitten: EUR 190
    2. Costs of the female per kitten: EUR 180
    3. Own costs of the kitten: EUR 700
    4. Costs of the cattery per kitten: EUR 230
    TOTAL
    EUR 1.300
    one thousand three hundred euros

This price does not include the hours the breeders we spend everyday (cleaning the cattery tools, training/playing with the cats, taking care of deliveries, taking care of the kittens, cat show weekends, ...).

Bringing a purebred animal into the world in a companionship environment has a cost, that breeders have to pay beforehand, and those that are not ready to share/pay that cost, do not understand the hard work there is behind it and, therefore, they are not qualified to own and care for a pure bred cat.

Last, we would like to remind you that the costs described above were calculated with pre-pandemic values and predicting that 2.5 kittens could be born in each litter. However, the reality developed so far in the ABILKI cattery is very different: on average 1.6 kittens were born per litter and due to the difficulties we have had with the males, we did not managed to have litters annually. The price also does not include the treatments we had to apply unexpectedly (for example, the PCR tests and numerous treatments we had to perform to confirm and eradicate the Tritrichomonas Foetus parasite mentioned and linked above in paragraph number 10 within the question number 7 above). Therefore we are far from balancing out all the initial expenses.

Now we are in the process of bringing a new Stud male, and once we see its mating results with our females, the price-cost will be updated for the new litters, which will also take into account the new law for companionship animals that was approved in Euskadi, in the Basque Country, in 2022.

10. What to look after when buying a pure bred kitten?

We will have to pay attention to these 3 topics:

  • 1. Learning if we are allergic to cats:

    There are many people that, after deciding to have a cat and bring it home, learn that someone at home is allergic to it. It is one of the reasons for abandoning cats.

    Therefore, our first task will be to determine if we are allergic to cats. Two main variables create the allergy to cats:

    • Major allergens of the cat: Dander (the dead skin or dust that is shed) and Saliva (the strongest cat allergen is found in the saliva).
    • Age and sex of the cat: depending on age and sex, from this is the strength of the allergy they produce, from the least to the most:
    • kittens (the least) < sterilized (females and males) < intact females < intact males (the most)

    There are no hypoallergenic cats. All cats can develop allergies, because even "hairless" cats shed dander. But the truth is that since the main allergen is in the saliva, and since cats comb their fur with their tongue, the hairier the cat, the more allergens it will have "hanging" on its body. Therefore, long-haired cats generally tend to produce more allergy than short-haired cats.

    Allergy appears with contact, so if you want to have a cat and have not had contact with cats before, it is a good idea for you to visit the home of a friend who has a cat and that you touch the cat, and make a second visit a few days later. Often the allergy could be noticed on the second visit.

    These two variables could also be analyze through a blood test:

    • "Immunoglobulin E" (letter "E") of cat dander: it indicates whether or not we are allergic to cats overall.
    • "FEL d 1" specific Immunoglobin ("FEL" space "d" space "1"): This is used for measuring the level of allergy to cat's strongest allergen (mainly shown in the saliva).

    Test results indicate whether or not we have an allergy to cats at that very moment. But just because you don't have an allergy today, does not mean that there is not a small chance that you could develop an allergy few years later. However, when living with a cat, it is common to develop auto-immunization, especially when the level of allergy is very low. It may also be possible for people who got auto-immunized to develop again mild allergy symptoms when they start living with a cat again, after a long period living without a cat. But in this case, there are high chances to auto-immunize again.

    When the level of allergy is low, another option may be to bathe the cat once a month. However, if the level of allergy is high, it may be better to think about an alternative companionship animal.

  • 2. Choosing the right breed: appearance, personality and care needs.

    Besides of focusing on beauty, it is important that you pay attention to the personality and the care needs of each breed. It could happen that the breed you think to be the most attractive, it could have a personality that is not compatible with your lifestyle.

    Some breeds, even if they may look a like, they can have very different personality. An example of this could be the following group of cats: Russian Blue, blue British Shorthair, Chartreaux cat, and Korat cat. Russian Blue cats are full of energy and could vocalize as much as Siamese cats, however, the Chartreaux cats are easy going and don't meow (since these traits were the ones selected by the Carthusian monks).

    Regarding care needs, all cats sleep about 16 hours, but not consecutively, so during the 8 hours they are awake, they will adapt to the living habits of the humans in their homes. During the time they spend with the people of the house, energetic cats will want to interact with the people, or even other pets, around. Those quieter cats, on the other hand, may prefer solitude or tranquility.

    In the breeds, besides perpetuating the physical traits, behavior is also eventually perpetuated. How ever, just like in human families, even if a behavior is more common among its members, there are always individuals that do not follow the rule. The experienced breeder can tell the conformation of the personality of a kitten during its 3 to 7 weeks of life, and accordingly will recommend the new owners choosing a kitten that best suites their lifestyle and expectations.

    It can be helpful to look at cat encyclopedia books. Most of them only show pictures, but Anne Helgren's Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds is one of the most complete book. In our Links & Bibliography section you can find the recommendation to this book and others.

    But the best option, however, could be to go to a cat show, after looking at the books. There you will be able see different cat breeds in person and you will have the opportunity to talk to their breeders, which can also be helpful to search for responsible breeders.

  • 3. Searching for a responsible breeder:

    Responsible and ethical breeders show the following characteristics:

    • Their cattery name is registered in a cat association. In this link you can find contacts of catteries registered in ASFE (FIFe Spain), including ours (Abyssinians are in the Category 4 of FIFe).
    • They often have a website and/or a social media account.
    • They know the history and the details of their breed and their goal is to improve the quality of the breed.
    • Monetary profit is not their main goal to become a breeder.
    • The wellbeing of their cats is their priority, above any money profit.
    • They never sell nor donate their cats to shops or dealers. The importance of this is explained in the Question # 3 above.
    • They will show the pedigrees of the kittens they offer and of their parents unconditionally and beforehand (before doing any payment). The importance of this is explained in the Question # 4 above.
    • They will show the results of the genetic tests, of the diseases specific to their breed, of the parents of the kittens or cats they are offering to you. The importance of this is explained in the Question # 5 above.
    • They will proceed with the adoption/sale through a written Contract. The contract will contain a clear and detailed description of all the health conditions and warranties, also any agreement they may reach with you. In this link you have the example of our Contracts.
    • They are interested on where they place their kittens and cat, so they are interested in the lifestyle of prospective new owners. Many of the breeders will handle an Adoption Questionnaire as the first step to obtain their kittens or cats. In this link you can download our questionnaire.
    • They will be open to answer the questions of truly interested prospective new owners. In the first contact, they may divert them into the information of their website and Adoption questionnaire, but they will be very happy to answer farther questions that may have afterwards.
    • They will have references or pictures of the new owners of their kittens on their website or social media. You can find ours in this link.
    • Their price for a kitten is usually more than a 1000 (a thousand) euros. Be very suspicious of prices below 700 euros, because that would not cover even the own expenses of the kitten, far less to balance out the overall costs of the cattery. In the Question # 9 above the prices are explained, and in this link you have the list of concepts and warranties we include in the price of an ABILKI Abyssinian kitten.
    • They place their companionship kittens already sterilized beforehand.
    • They only place or sell their breeding cats to people who have a cattery name already registered and often only after they meet them in person or after they learn they share the same principles for their breeding program.
    • Those breeders that sell all their kittens only to other breeders, could be a sign of irresponsible breeding ethics, because kittens, that don't have the best characteristics for breeding, can be born anytime, and responsible breeders sterilize these ones to be placed as companionship. Bear this in maind, especially if you are looking for a breeding cat.
    • They are willing to sincerely and clearly talk about common illnesses of their breeds and about the health topics of their cattery.
    • Even if their cats are already placed in new homes, they are always willing to reply to all the doubts and worries of the new owners, and they will be very happy to hear news from the kittens and cats that are already placed in their new homes.

Any other question will also be welcome to be addressed to us using the mail provided in the About us section. If you wanna read answers as soon as we load them up, send your emails address to us in simple form below.

Join our confidential mailing list to receive ABILKI news and updates!
To do so, just write your email in the box below and submit it.

Flag Counter
FIFe ASFE

FIFe breeder ® 2014-2022 .abilki. abyssinian cats
ASFE member ® since 2013
© 2014-2022 www.abilki.eus