It is named after the country (now known as Ethiopia), from where it was first thought to have originated; more recent research now places its origins somewhere near the Egyptian coast. The Abyssinian has since become one of the most popular breeds of shorthair cat in the USA.
The Abyssinian is a slender, fine-boned, medium-sized cat. The head is moderately wedge shaped, with a slight break at the muzzle, and nose and chin ideally forming a straight vertical line when viewed in profile. They have alert, relatively large pointed ears. The notably expressive eyes are almond shaped and are gold, green, hazel or copper depending on coat colour. The legs should be long in proportion to a graceful body, with small oval paws; the tail is likewise long and tapering.
Abyssinians are a popular breed thanks in large part to their unusual intelligence and generally extroverted, playful, willful personalities. They are said to become depressed without constant activity and attention from their owners.
In marked contrast to this outgoing nature (and to most other Oriental shorthair breeds) they tend to be very quiet cats, with soft voices. Abyssinians can be difficult to show, as some individuals are excessively timid or particularly shy of strangers.