Somali | Cat Breed Guide

Somali | Cat Breed Guide

by Scritch

For fans of small cats, a Somali is a whole bunch of personality packed into a petite package. This African cat’s affable demeanor makes it a great choice for families, children, and multi-pet households.

Weight: 8-12 pounds 

Life Expectancy: 9-13 years

Temperament: playful, curious, intelligent, quiet

Energy Level:

Ease of Training:

Grooming Requirements:

History and Personality

Though its history is murky, most experts believe Somalis were bred out of Abyssinian cats with longer-haired breeds in post-World War II Ethiopia, though they didn’t pick up as much popularity until the 1960s and 70s. The cats were given the name “Somali” after the neighboring country, Somalia. 

Much like Abyssinians, Somalis are playful and enthusiastic. It’s not surprising for a Somali to get regular cases of the “zoomies.” They’re fast on their feet, and always ready to run or play. Keep a variety of toys such as balls, puzzles or feathers on hand to make sure your little guy is content. Somalis especially like jumping and are constantly seeking higher elevations. A cat tree will bring your Somali much joy.

Their playfulness is rivaled only by their intelligence. With the brainpower of a much larger cat, a Somali is clever enough to be trained but also clever enough to try and trick you when he thinks you’re not paying attention. 

Their playful wit and warm attitude make them an ideal pet for families with children, and they truly thrive with another cat in the house. Just make sure your other cat has enough energy to keep your Somali entertained, otherwise he may find other (destructive) ways to entertain himself. 


Somalis have medium-length coats and do require a bit of care. Combing twice a week with a stainless-steel comb will help detangle, remove dead hair, and distribute their essential skin oils. Sometimes, when your cat is shedding their winter coat, you may need to comb daily. Regular tooth brushing and nail trimming is vital as well for these little guys. 

Health Concerns

  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Retinal atrophy (which can lead to blindness)
  • Obesity

Pyruvate kinase deficiency is a hereditary health issue some Somalis can develop. When a cat is deficient in pyruvate kinase, they develop anemia which can lead to more serious health concerns. Somalis can be genetically tested for this disorder, whose symptoms can include lethargy, depression, lack of appetite, or pale gums. 

With regular vet visits and an effort to keep your cat at a healthy weight, your Somali can live a long, happy and healthy life with your family. You’re sure to find them delightful.