You have questions...
I have answers!
These are many of the questions folks have about my Abys.
How big is an Aby?
An Abyssinian is just a bit smaller than the "average" cat. Not much help, right?
So, how big is the "average" cat? If we consider all domestic breeds, both male and female, altered and intact, from the smallest to the largest, the "average" cat weighs eight pounds.
If that seems small to you, then you've probably either had a cat with Maine Coon blood in it, are accustomed to an over wt alter, or you are vulnerable to stories about that "big fish" that someone caught. Cat stories 'grow', just as fish stories do. On the other hand, as we all know, animals DO gain wt after being alterered, (regardless of what our Vets tell us), thus their wt should be controled after altering.
Few people realize what 'a pound' of fat really looks like. It's about the size of a large mans fist. Not much on a human, but something worth considering on a small creature like a cat. So, a half pound, plus or minus can be a lot in the cat world.
My Aby girls average about seven to eight lbs. My males average from eight and 1/2 to nine and 1/2 lbs. Over the 30 yrs plus that I've had Abys, I've watched as the breed has slowly become smaller. This is understandable since cats with long fine bones are in deed very strking! Cats with fine bones often place the best in the show ring. However, this inherently poses a problem. Without the larger boned, less striking cats in the mix, a breed inevitably becomes smaller. To offset this problem of evolution, I try to keep a few larger boned cats in the line.
While on the subject of size, I'd like to make another point for those that enjoy the photos on our Aby websites. Photos are tricky, when it comes to size. At about 10 to 12 weeks, an Aby goes through a major transformation as it loses it's fluffy baby coat. All slicked off, it quite suddenly takes on the look of a true Aby. In real life, we see this in relation to it's actual size. However, the camera only sees the lines of an Aby, rather than size. A kitten will often appear much older than it really is, unless there's something in the shot by which to gauge it's true size. Just something to keep this in mind when looking at pictures.
What about vaccines?
There are two methods of vaccinating. Everyone knows about “shots”, while fewer know about “nasal” vaccines. There are pros and cons to both. While “shots” may possibly last longer, they simply must not be used in early kitten hood, lest wiping out important immunities imparted from mother to kitten. However, “nasal” vaccines can be given as early as two weeks of age without this risk.
Basically, a “shot” creates antibodies in the blood stream, a systemic immunity, while a nasal vaccine makes the tissues in nose, eyes and throat infertile ground for the virus, a cellular or localized immunity.
All my kittens go home with two doses of Pfizer Felomune CVR nasal, for both Rhino and Calisi, given at two weeks and again at 4 or 5 weeks of age. This gives them early protection from the two most common ‘kitty colds’, allowing them to get a good start in life, then protects them until they are well established in their new home environment. However, this vaccine does not include Panleukopenia (distemper) or Feline Leukemia, so please take the Health Record I provide to your Vet and follow his recommendations as to “shots” needed.
Having said this, I still don’t recommend the FeLuke vaccine being given until your kitten is old enough to go TWO days without eating, as this vaccine can really knock them off their feed! Don’t do this to a “baby”.
You also might want to pay attention to topics about “Over vaccinating” cats, just as with humans. Many Vets are rethinking yearly booster shots and unneeded shots for indoor cats.
Re FIP vaccinations: Just DON’T! No FIP has ever been found in my cattery, so leave this one alone! It’s not a safe vaccine!
Re Rabies vaccinations: Don’t do it, unless it is required for travel or by city ordinances.
Bottom Line: No vaccine is perfect. For example, within the Feline Rhinotracheitis (herpes) world, there are many different strains, just as with our own yearly strains of human flue. The best ‘vaccine’ for it all is found in good kitty genes and good kitty care!
When is an Aby kitten ready to go?
Not all kittens are alike, as are new homes. So this is always up to the individual kitten and it's new home. But generaly speaking, between 10 and 14 weeks of age. (Although, males are often the first ones ready to go.)
Here, I really feel the need to warn people about taking on kittens at only 8 weeks old, as are sometimes offered. That is, unless you feel it is a "rescue" situation and you are both knowledgeable and equiped to handle an at risk kitten. While it is true that "bonding" needs to happen early, the bonding needed is to humans in general, not to one specific human. A kitten is far better off remaining in it's original home, learning from it's mother and siblings and trust of the human touch, rather than being seporated from all this too early... that is... as long as this human touch is being offered!!! If no such touch is being offered, then it is a "rescue" case! Then, please, by all means, "rescue" it!
The best age for kitten placement depends on many factors. First, is this individual kitten ready, then "ready for what?" While I might place a 10 week old male with a retired couple, I might not place that same kitten at 10 weeks in a home with young children. This boy may need a few more weeks to muster up to such a wonderful new adventure!
I place each kitten individually, as each kitten shows me it's readiness to go. This is always per kitten and individual home. But never before 10 weeks for the boys and usually 12 weeks for the girls.
Is an Abyssinian a good "Lap Cat"?
This is my most frequently asked question. This question is often confused with whether an Aby is "affectionate" or not.
While an Aby may not choose to simply lie in a fetal postion in ones lap, hour after hour, never was there a breed of cat more affectionate!
For example: An Aby is smart enough to realize that if you are only sitting, chances are good that you will soon be standing, so why get too comfy? While on the other hand, if you're stretched out on the sofa for that TV show, chances are better that you're gonna stay put for a bit and thus you'l soon find your Aby warmly snuggled up in the crook of your arm. So, "lap cat?"f Maybe not so much. But "affectionate?" Extremely!
Rather than describing Abys as a lap cats, I describe them as being "face kitties". They are born knowing that we live in our eyes rather than in our feet. Early on, they begin trying to figure out how to get from our feet to our eyes. Abys seek out eye contact for long gazing fests with the ones they love. They take every opportunity afforded them for "nose rubs" or being snuggled around ones face, neck and shoulders. Being light weight with exceptional balance, some even become talented "riders", riding about on a willing pair of shoulders, with never a claw extended for gripping.
What are some typical Abyssinians personality traits?
An Aby is very interactive with it's owners, including children and other pets such as dogs. They are apt to follow you from room to room, showing great interest in the details of what you are doing. While they won't pester you with constant or loud vocalizations, they may try to help you with any hands on projects, such as sewing, writing or keyboard tasks. (when you've finally had enough help, they quickly learn that a tiny puff of air to the face means "it's time for you to go do something else for awhile.")
Abyssinians are know for their love of high places, as though being born with wings. It's not that uncommon to find one resting quite comfortably atop the narrow edge of an open door, if there is something near by from which to access it. Their favorite perspective on life, would be that of looking down at the world about them. Thus, tall cat trees are among their favorite things. The taller, the better! The down side to this trait is that it can be difficult keeping them off things where not wanted. But inspite of this, they are worth it, even including the amazment one feels after looking for the kitty, only to find him asleep atop a door! After all, who looks for a cat up there?
To an Abyssinian there's no such thing as the 'wrong time' when ever you'd like to play, or share affections with him. This is a life long trait in an Aby. My oldest Aby was still playful right up until he passed away at just over 21 years old! (by the way, some of my current Abys are still closely related to him, bringing with them some wonderful longevity.)