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7 Agile Facts About Abyssinian Cats

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Want a high-energy cat that’s as lively as it is lovely? Consider the Abyssinian, affectionately nicknamed the Aby. The short-haired feline is a popular pet choice among cat owners, who prize it for its intelligence and playful disposition. Here are seven facts about one of America’s most beloved breeds

1. THE ABYSSINIAN IS NOT ACTUALLY FROM "ABYSSINIA"

Contrary to its name, the Abyssinian cat isn’t actually from Abyssinia, which is a historical name for Ethiopia. The name stems from the popular belief that British soldiers who fought in the Abyssinian War returned to England in the late 1860s with cats purchased from local traders. In fact, modern-day genetic research suggests that the cat may have gotten its unique coat pattern from felines who lived in coastal areas of northeastern India or parts of southeast Asia. The breed itself is likely a fusion of tabby British shorthairs and a mysterious imported breed.

Another fanciful origin story is that the Abyssinian is descended from ancient Egyptian cats. This is likely due to their long necks, big ears, and almond eyes, which make them resemble paintings and sculptures of the revered animals.

2. THE ABYSSINIAN APPEARED IN EARLY CAT SHOWS, BREED BOOKS, AND MUSEUMS.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

No one quite knows when Abyssinian cats first arrived in Europe. However, an Aby made a splash at what's often considered the world's second major cat show, held at London's famed Crystal Palace venue in 1871. Harper's Magazine wrote that the feline was thought to have been "captured in the late Abyssinian War." While that might not have been true, the exotic-looking Abyssinian still won third place.

Abyssinians were also mentioned in one of the earliest English cat breed catalogs, Cats, Their Points, and Characteristics ... by W. Gordon Stables. The section included a colored lithographic of a cat named Zulu, who was described as belonging to a Mrs. Captain Barrett-Lennard. Sure enough, the myth that the cat hailed from North Africa persisted: "This cat was brought from Abyssinia at the conclusion of the war …” read the caption.

Meanwhile, the Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland also acquired a stuffed Abyssinian cat purchased around 1834 to 1836. The cat is labeled "Patrie, domestica India," suggesting that the cat indeed hails from the Far East instead of Africa. The taxidermied feline remains in the Leiden's possession today.

3. ABYSSINIANS HAVE 'TICKED' COATS.

Aside from its almond-shaped eyes, pointed face, and slender, athletic body, an Abyssinian is instantly recognizable by its short, “ticked” coat. Thanks to a genetic variant of the tabby pattern, each hair is banded with alternating light and dark shades, ranging from lighter at the base to darker at the tips.

Abys are born with dark coats, which gradually lighten after a few months. Color-wise, the most widely recognized hue for Abyssinians is a ruddy brown. However, Abys come in several other shades, including The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)-recognized fawn, red, and blue and The International Cat Association (TICA)-acknowledged chocolate and lilac

4. AN ABYSSINIAN'S DNA WAS DECODED.

In 2007, scientists used DNA taken from a four-year-old Abyssinian cat named Cinnamon to sequence the first "rough draft" genome for the domestic cat. Their goal was to find out more about the 250 diseases that affect both felines and humans. So far, the draft genome has helped researchers discover several cat disease genes and learn more about the species’ domestication.

5. AN ABYSSINIAN STARRED IN A MOVIE.

Long before ALF creator Paul Fusco produced Space Cats, the short-lived 1990s TV show about alien felines, Walt Disney Productions released a film called The Cat From Outer Space. The 1978 movie stars an extraterrestrial Abyssinian named Jake whose spaceship crash-lands on Earth.

6. ABYSSINIANS LOVE TO JUMP, CLIMB, AND PLAY.

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Looking for a cat that’s more of a livewire than a couch potato? The Abyssinian is the pet for you. The feline has a predilection for swinging from curtains and jumping onto high surfaces. (When we say high, we mean high—Abys can leap six feet or more into the air.) Thanks to this trait, the website Vet Street recently named Abyssinians as one of the top 11 most playful cat breeds.

Don’t have the time or energy to engage an Abyssinian? Consider a more docile cat, like the Persian, which is so placid and sedentary it's been nicknamed “furniture with fur.”

7. AUSTRALIA'S FIRST PEDIGREED CAT IS PART ABYSSINIAN.

In the 1970s, an Australian woman named Dr. Truda Straede decided to breed a new feline that possessed attributes of all her favorite cat types. Over the course of nine years, Straede crossed an Abyssinian, a Burmese, and Australian domestic shorthair cats to create a custom breed dubbed the Australian Mist.

The Mist was the first pedigreed cat to be developed Down Under. It boasts the muted coloring and relaxed personality of a Burmese; the liveliness and ticked coat of an Abyssinian; and the marbled stripes and strong immune system of a mutt.

Additional Source:The Cat Encyclopedia: The Definitive Visual Guide

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Animals
Sploot 101: 12 Animal Slang Words Every Pet Parent Should Know
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For centuries, dogs were dogs and cats were cats. They did things like bark and drink water and lay down—actions that pet parents didn’t need a translator to understand.

Then the internet arrived. Scroll through the countless Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to sharing cute animal pictures and you’ll quickly see that dogs don’t have snouts, they have snoots, and cats come in a colorful assortment of shapes and sizes ranging from smol to floof.

Pet meme language has been around long enough to start leaking into everyday conversation. If you're a pet owner (or lover) who doesn’t want to be out of the loop, here are the terms you need to know.

1. SPLOOT

You know your pet is fully relaxed when they’re doing a sploot. Like a split but for the whole body, a sploot occurs when a dog or cat stretches so their bellies are flat on the ground and their back legs are pointing behind them. The amusing pose may be a way for them to take advantage of the cool ground on a hot day, or just to feel a satisfying stretch in their hip flexors. Corgis are famous for the sploot, but any quadruped can do it if they’re flexible enough.

2. DERP

Person holding Marnie the dog.
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for ASPCA

Unlike most items on this list, the word derp isn’t limited to cats and dogs. It can also be a stand-in for such expressions of stupidity as “duh” or “dur.” In recent years the term has become associated with clumsy, clueless, or silly-looking cats and dogs. A pet with a tongue perpetually hanging out of its mouth, like Marnie or Lil Bub, is textbook derpy.

3. BLEP

Cat laying on desk chair.
PoppetCloset, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’ve ever caught a cat or dog poking the tip of its tongue past its front teeth, you’ve seen a blep in action. Unlike a derpy tongue, a blep is subtle and often gone as quickly as it appears. Animal experts aren’t entirely sure why pets blep, but in cats it may have something to do with the Flehmen response, in which they use their tongues to “smell” the air.

4. MLEM

Mlems and bleps, though very closely related, aren’t exactly the same. While blep is a passive state of being, mlem is active. It’s what happens when a pet flicks its tongue in and out of its mouth, whether to slurp up water, taste food, or just lick the air in a derpy fashion. Dogs and cats do it, of course, but reptiles have also been known to mlem.

5. FLOOF

Very fluffy cat.
J. Sibiga Photography, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some pets barely have any fur, and others have coats so voluminous that hair appears to make up most of their bodyweight. Dogs and cats in the latter group are known as floofs. Floofy animals will famously leave a wake of fur wherever they sit and can squeeze through tight spaces despite their enormous mass. Samoyeds, Pomeranians, and Persian cats are all prime examples of floofs.

6. BORK

Dog outside barking.
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According to some corners of the internet, dogs don’t bark, they bork. Listen carefully next time you’re around a vocal doggo and you won’t be able to unhear it.

7. DOGGO

Shiba inu smiling up at the camera.
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Speaking of doggos: This word isn’t hard to decode. Every dog—regardless of size, floofiness, or derpiness—can be a doggo. If you’re willing to get creative, the word can even be applied to non-dog animals like fennec foxes (special doggos) or seals (water doggos). The usage of doggo saw a spike in 2016 thanks to the internet and by the end of 2017 it was listed as one of Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching.”

8. SMOL

Tiny kitten in grass.
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Some pets are so adorably, unbearably tiny that using proper English to describe them just doesn’t cut it. Not every small pet is smol: To earn the label, a cat or dog (or kitten or puppy) must excel in both the tiny and cute departments. A pet that’s truly smol is likely to induce excited squees from everyone around it.

9. PUPPER

Hands holding a puppy.
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Like doggo, pupper is self-explanatory: It can be used in place of the word puppy, but if you want to use it to describe a fully-grown doggo who’s particularly smol and cute, you can probably get away with it.

10. BOOF

We’ve already established that doggos go bork, but that’s not the only sound they make. A low, deep bark—perhaps from a dog that can’t decide if it wants to expend its energy on a full bark—is best described as a boof. Consider a boof a warning bark before the real thing.

11. SNOOT

Dog noses poking out beneath blanket.
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Snoot was already a dictionary-official synonym for nose by the time dog meme culture took the internet by storm. But while snoot is rarely used to describe human faces today, it’s quickly becoming the preferred term for pet snouts. There’s even a wholesome viral challenge dedicated to dogs poking their snoots through their owners' hands.

12. BOOP

Have you ever seen a dog snoot so cute you just had to reach out and tap it? And when you did, was your action accompanied by an involuntary “boop” sound? This urge is so universal that boop is now its own verb. Humans aren’t the only ones who can boop: Search the word on YouTube and treat yourself to hours of dogs, cats, and other animals exchanging the love tap.

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Animals
Carnivorous Hammerhead Flatworms Are Invading France

It’s no hammerhead shark, but the hammerhead flatworm has become a real menace in France. Or at least a menace to earthworms, as Earther reports.

Believed to be an invasive species from Asia, the hammerhead flatworm was only recently recorded in France, as is documented in a new study (titled "Giant worms chez moi!") published in the journal PeerJ. However, based on reports, photographs, and videos sent in by citizens across the country, scientists determined the pests have gone undetected for nearly 20 years. This came as a shock, especially because the worms can measure more than a foot in length.

In recent years, three species of the carnivorous worm have quietly taken over French gardens and have even been spotted in metropolitan areas. Some species immobolize their prey with tetrodotoxin, the same powerful neurotoxin that makes pufferfish so poisonous. The worms secrete digestive enzymes, allowing them to dissolve earthworms and slugs their size.

Jean-Lou Justine, co-author of the study, says their eating habits are a concern. "Earthworms are a major component of the soil biomass and a very important element in the ecology of soils," Justine tells Earther. "Any predator which can diminish the populations of earthworms is thus a threat to soil ecology."

Archie Murchie, an entomologist who was not involved in the study, told The Washington Post that the worms will continue to spread in step with global trade. The worms were also seen in overseas French territories, including one worm with a blue-green hue that is probably a newly detected species, Murchie tells the newspaper.

[h/t Earther]

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