Somalis - The Next Generation
by Karen Talbert
From the October 1992 CFA Almanac, posted with permission from CFA
The Somali has progressed from its origin as an undesirable product of a recessive gene in the Abyssinian cat to becoming one of the most sought after and truly beautiful cats in the cat fancy. The Somali is now a reckoning factor for those cats seeking the National Win distinction in CFA. This past show season, 1991-1992, a red Somali, GC, NW Silkpaws Raj, was BEST CAT at our CFA Invitational Show in Fort Worth, Texas, and went on in national competition to become THIRD BEST CAT in Championship!! In the beginning history, however, the Somali was not held in such high regard. Abyssinian breeders were appalled to find these dark fuzzy kittens popping up in their litters, especially after all the hard work they had put into line breeding to “fix type”, working with their imported English Abys. They petted out these long hair kittens, and many breeders refused to even admit having them.
After the World War II bombing of England, there were very few Abyssinian cats to be found. The registrations of the Abyssinian foundation cats from 1910 to the post-World War II period show some cats of unknown parentage. With these unknown cats in the background of the cats imported from Englad to other parts of the world, it should not have been a surprise that a longhair variant would emerge.
The British Abys were exported to the United States, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. Some of these cats were heterozygous for the longhair gene. Two related Abys of British export were traced from the first longhairs. They were Raby Chuffa of Selene, Canada/United States, and Bruerne Achilles, Australia/New Zealand. Both Achilles and Chuffa share the ancestry of Croham Rasambu, one of the early British Abys. Line breeding each of these Aby lines, even 7000 miles apart, produced longhair cats that looked alike. Chuffa’s longhair kittens appeared in the lines of his sons, Dalai Delta Tim and Sheramain’s Yankee Sultan. South Pacific blood lines throwing longhair kittens were Finisterre, Hillsboro, Chatwyn and Skyway. Some of these descendents of Achilles were exported to the United States. One, a red male, Finisterre Redman Rai, an Aby carrying the longhair gene, is in the background of several North American Somalis. Another, owned by Patricia Nell Warren, was L’Air de Rauch’s Rocky Raccoon, the grandson of Skyway’s Meritaten of Suzy-Q. In 1963, Ken McGill, a CCA Allbreed Judge, had been called to judge the Southern Albert Cat Club in Calgary.
As a practical joke, Aby breeder, Mary Mailing, put a Somali in a cage amongst the class of Abys. Ken took out the cat, looked down to describe how the cat fit the standard, and was surprised to see this longhair Aby in his hands. The exhibitors had a good laugh, but Ken was so taken with this beautiful cat that he asked Mary for one to breed. The first Somali recorded was May-Ling Tutseita of Dunedin in 1965. Ken bred Tutseita to his shorthair daughter, who also carried the longhair gene, and produced a longhair kitten. From this breeding he founded the oldest Somali line in Canada. Don Richings acquired the line bred son of Tutseita, Dunedin Moseph of Don-Al.
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