Friday 26 September 2008

Ethiopian cat

Ethiopian cat Abyssinian cat
Anton says, I don't care what you call me - he's knackered - photo by isbye

The term "Ethiopian cat" is an old (outdated and unused I believe) name for the Abyssinian cat. This is interesting as Ethiopia is a more modern name for the country once referred to as Abyssinia (by people outside of Ethiopia and perhaps referring to an area). Although the name Ethiopia is, in fact, an ancient name.

So the cat fancy is working in the opposite direction to the rest of the world. Hardly interesting really now I think of it. One reason why this cat breed is called the Abyssinian rather than the Ethiopian cat is because it sounds better. Perhaps another better reason is because the name "Abyssinia" referred, as I understand it, to an area encompassing Ethiopia and this cat breed came from the wider area, so the name may be more accurate.

We know that the name of this cat was created after the place of origin of the cat, Abyssinia. But the places of origin of naturally occurring cats (and the Aby is a naturally occurring cat) are understandably a little vague sometimes. By my reckoning the Abyssinian cat or Ethiopian cat could have originally come from the areas marked by the red spots on this map:

Abyssinian cat place of origin

Apparently the Chinese used to call the Abyssinian cat the "Algerian cat" or the Ethiopian cat. Maybe they still do. Why, I wonder, call this cat breed the Algerian cat? Algeria is at least about 3,000 km to the left (north-west) of Ethiopia so is a considerable distance away from the mutually agreed source of this cat breed. Perhaps they have a different theory for the origins? Maybe they just prefer the name or maybe they got mixed up with the region or in translation.....?

You can read a lot about the Abyssinian cat and see undoubtedly the best pictures (by Helmi Flick) on this page: Abyssinian cat.

Ethiopian cat to Mixed breed cats - domestic cats - Moggies

Ethiopian cat - Photo: published under creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

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