The Somali is a cat breed created from long-haired Abyssinian cats. The breed appeared in the 1950s from Abyssinian breeding programs when a number of Abyssinian kittens were born with bottle-brush tails and long fluffy coats. Abyssinians and Somalis share similar personalities — intelligent, playful, curious — however Somalis are more relaxed and easygoing than the more active Abyssinians.
The body type and markings of the two breeds are similar, however the fur length of the Somali requires more grooming than the Abyssinian. Unlike most long-haired cats, Somalis shed very little excess hair. Their coat is generally shed en masse, or "blown", once or twice a year, rather than constantly shedding like a Persian or other long-haired cat.
Somalis have a striking, bushy tail, which, combined with their ticked and often ruddy coat, has earned them the nickname of "fox cats" in some circles. In addition to the fluffy tail, the Somali breed features a somewhat darker stripe down its back, large ears, a full ruff and breeches, contributing further to the overall "foxy" look.