You are familiar with the wild cats of Africa but African house cat breeds are generally shadowed by their wild cousins. Let’s meet the domestic cats of Africa.
Asian and European domestic cat breeds are well-known all around the world for several reasons but African house cat breeds are not the first thing that comes to mind when “Africa” and “cat” words are used in the same sentence. Also, although cats are believed to be first domesticated in Egypt which is in North Africa, modern cat community is mostly dominated by U.S. and Europe based organizations and naturally this gives more visibility to European and American cat breeds.
However, recently these kitties receive more attention all around the world and more breeders in Europe and U.S. are showing interest in them. This not only gives these rare kitties more fame and popularity but also decrease their prices so more people can afford to have them as companions.
If you want one of these African house cat breeds, don’t forget to check your local regulations first since most of them have some wild ancestry and not all states allow them to be kept as pets. While some states ban them completely, some others accept them under certain conditions such as how far their generations are from their wild ancestors.
1 – Abyssinian
Abyssinian is named after Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where it is believed to have originated. As one of the most popular cat breeds around the world in recent years, Abyssinian definitely deserves the place it is now because it is considered one of the oldest cat breeds in existence. The mummified cats discovered in archeological digs in Egyptian tombs show that modern Abyssinian is closely related to these 4,000 years old mummies.
Modern Abyssinian was bred in U.K. in 1868 after a British soldier returned home with a kitten named Zula from Abyssinia after the Britain-Abyssinia war. Zula is considered to be the mother of all modern Abyssinians today. Although the first Abyssinians arrived North America as early as 1900s, they did not get popular until 1930s.
These cats are extremely intelligent, playful and outgoing. Like most other African house cat breeds, they are dog-like cats that bond closely to their human families and love playing fetch or learning other tricks that you would normally teach a dog, it also watches people and learns things even if you don’t teach them anything. They can be trained to walk on a leash and enjoy walking with their humans. They are also energetic but quite cats. But due to their attachment to their families and their extrovert nature, they don’t like staying alone for long hours.
2 – Savannah Cat
Savannah cat is accepted as the largest of the domestic cat breeds not only among African house cat breeds but among all domestic cat breeds. It is a hybrid between a Siamese cat and a Serval which is a medium sized African wild cat. The first Savannah was bred by Judee Frank in 1986 and gained popularity 1990s. In 2001 it was recognized by TICA and in 2012 it was given championship status.
As they get farther from their wild heritage, Savannah cats tend to be smaller in size and become more docile but they keep their beautiful wild looks. First two generations (called F1 and F2) can reach up to 17 inches tall and weigh about 25 pounds. These are loyal, intelligent, energetic and very curious cats with a lot of extra energy to spend so they may not be the best choice for first time cat parents.
They can learn tricks such as fetch easily and can be trained to walk on a leash which is a really good thing considering they love following their humans even in the house from room to room and just like dogs, a good evening walk in the neighborhood might help getting rid of that extra energy.
It is also very important to socialize these kitties early in their lives since some of them tend to be very social and friendly, some others might be shy or in extreme cases of loneliness even aggressive towards strangers. Due its Serval ancestors, Savannah cat finds itself a place in our list of African house cat breeds.
3 – Egyptian Mau
Egyptian Mau is considered to be at least 3,000 years old and it is the only naturally spotted domestic cat breed according to Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). Mau is so old that its ancestors can be found even in ancient Egyptian artworks. The popularity of the Egyptian Mau increased and its name got heard after exiled Russian princess Nathalie Troubetskoy brought three Egyptian Maus with her first to Italy and then to New York City in 1965. After such an international coverage, the breeders started showing interest in Egyptian Maus and crossbred them with some calmer breeds because they were considered aggressive breeds.
These kitties are intelligent, loyal and affectionate. Although they bond closer to one human in the family, they are loving towards all family members. They can be a little standoffish towards strangers but if they are socialized early in their lives, this cattitude disappears quickly. They like climbing and watching everything from atop. These kitties get along well with other pets but they tend to be protective of their favorite toys just like dogs so supervision might be a good idea when small kids play with a Mau.
Egyptian Mau is mostly an independent cat that can stay on its own for long periods of time but don’t think it is lazy or sluggish. Egyptian Mau is an energetic cat and is the fastest domestic cat breed that can reach speeds up to 30 mph (45 km/h) which is a record officially recognized by Guinness World Records.
4 – Sokoke
Sokoke, Sokoke Forest Cat or African Shorthair is not only the rarest of The African house cat breeds but also one of the rarest domestic cat breeds in the world. It is a natural breed that originated in Kenya and thought to be one of the ancient cat breeds that date back about 3,000 years. The original Sokoke is known as khadzonzo or kadzonzo and could be found from the streets of Lamu Town of Lamu Island in Kenya to the to the Arabuko Sokoke national forest but due to human encroachment on the forest, the rural Sokoke was thought to be extinct. Although they are still spotted in the Kenyan forests, these sightings are very rare.
Sokoke is a loving, affectionate and social breed that can get along with almost anybody from other pets to everybody in the family. It is also a very inquisitive cat that likes to keep its humans close following them everywhere they go. Sokoke develops special bonds with the members of its human family and wants to be involved in everything they do. It is also a very playful kitty that likes climbing and watching everything from high places.
It is a dog-like cat breed in many ways. It stops whatever it does and greets visitors at the door, comforts its human after a bad day as soon as it realizes something is wrong with them, can play games at any time of the day, can be trained very easily due its unusual intelligence and so on.
5 – Chausie
Chausie is a cross breed between a Jungle Cat (Felis Chaus) and a few different domestic cat breeds. What makes Chausie one of the African house cat breeds is its wild roots coming from the Jungle Cat. Although Felis Chaus is seen in Asia and Middle East, too, Chausie comes from the Jungle Cats living in Egypt. Like other African house cat breeds Chausie is thousands of years old. These cats can be seen in the ancient history of Nile delta all over the history but the breeding efforts for a modern Chausie came to fruition only as late as 1990s.
Chausie is an energetic, playful, active and athletic cat breed that retains its kitten-like personality and playful nature well into adulthood. It is also a very affectionate kitty that bonds closely with its human family and thanks to its outgoing and laid-back personality it can get along with anyone from strangers to kids and other pets in the house. It is also a very loyal cat that doesn’t like staying alone for long hours so another cat or dog to keep it company is a good idea if you are not at home for long hours during the day.
It is also a very intelligent breed that can easily learn playing fetch or walking on a leash in addition to a lot of other tricks that most cat breeds can’t (or don’t want to?) learn. Due to their demanding nature and huge size, Chausies can be difficult for people who are first time cat parents or who have small kids at home because if your Chausie is not provided enough playtime, it can not spend its energy and the playtime can get a little rough which may cause injuries for small kids that your kitty did not intend to cause.