African Domestic Cat Breeds

Five African Domestic Cat Breeds

When you hear the word “Africa”, the first thought that probably comes to mind is jungles, nature, and rich diversity of wildlife. And yes – you have probably imagined lions, cheetahs, leopards, and other exotic wild cats, too. But did you know that a lot of well-known domestic cat breeds also originated in Africa?

Aside from the big cats that you see on Discovery Channel, a number of small and medium-sized cat breeds have some of their ancestral roots in Africa. This includes Savannahs, Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians, Somalis, and Sokokes. All of these cats have their own unique beauty and adorable temperaments that can make cat fanciers fall in love with them. Some of them also possess a bit of wildness in their appearance and personality, despite being domesticated.

If you are curious to know more about some of the world’s most popular African domestic cat breeds, we have some information for you right here, so read on!

1. Savannah 

Image: / Gennadiy Naumov

Tall and beautiful, the Savannah cat is a cross between a male African serval and a female Siamese cat. These exotic-looking cats are larger than a typical household cat, with long legs and an athletic physique. Although Savannahs are domesticated, most of their wild features are still retained, including the spotted coat markings, large perked ears, hooded eyes, and very long legs. This makes them look very much like their wild cheetah cousins.

Savannahs are generally classified according to their filial generations, namely F1, F2, F3, F4, and so on. Hybrids that are closer to the first generation have retained more of their wild appearance and temperament. 

Despite their intimidating wild look, Savannahs are known to have an affectionate and playful nature. Most owners describe their temperament as a bit similar to that of a dog. These curious and intelligent cats can also be trained to walk on a leash and do a few tricks, such as opening doors or performing acrobatic jumps. Savannahs are also highly active, so they are best provided with lots of play and enrichment to keep them out of mischief.  

2. Egyptian Mau

Egyptian Mau
Image: / Thomas Leirikh

Egyptian Maus are easily distinguished by their spotted coats. Their signature look includes a long, dark stripe that runs from the top of their head to the tip of their tail. This breed sports various fur colors, ranging from silver to black or caramel. These cats have an athletic build, too – their bodies are long and lean, and their hind legs are a bit shorter than the front legs, which makes them excellent jumpers and runners. 

Aside from being highly intelligent, Egyptian Maus are extremely loyal and affectionate toward their human caretakers. They might appear a bit unfriendly with strangers, but will soon warm up and approach a newcomer to ask for cuddles. They are a bit chatty, too, although not as vocal as the Siamese. If socialized well, this stunning feline can be a great companion to young children and other household pets. 

3. Abyssinian

Image: / Nan Liu

The Abyssinian, or Aby, is recognized as one of the oldest cat breeds in the world. Experts believe they originated from Ethiopia, but the modern breed was developed in Britain during the 1900s.

Abyssinians are popular for their cinnamon or copper-red coats, although some were bred to have silver or blue coats, too. Their heads are round and wedge-shaped, with broad ears. Many cat fanciers also fall in love with their stunning almond-shaped eyes that can be gold or green in color.

Abyssinians are extremely curious about their environment. They love investigating every nook and cranny of the house, and will grab anything that interests them. Aby cats are generally playful and enjoy climbing and jumping onto high places. If you decide to own an Aby cat, make sure to have plenty of toys and entertainment to keep them from breaking valuable things in your house!

4. Somali

Image: / Thomas Leirikh

Somali cats share several traits with their Abyssinian cousins. While some of these felines have blue or fawn-colored coats, most of them have red or ruddy fur. Their heads are triangular, their ears are large and tilted forward, and their tails are bushy like those of small foxes.

Somalis are considered a bundle of joy by many cat lovers. They are extremely sociable and enjoy the company of their favorite humans. Interactive play and lots of toys are highly encouraged to relieve these cats from boredom and prevent behavioral problems. Cat condos and high perches are helpful, too, as Somalis love climbing and jumping onto high places to observe their world from a height.

Aside from their good looks and playfulness, Somalis are also affectionate and easy-going. This breed can get along well with children beyond toddler-age as well as other household pets, making them a great addition to families of any size. 

5. Sokoke

Image: / AmyDreves

The Sokoke, also known as Sokoke forest cat or African shorthair, is recognized as a natural breed of domestic cat, meaning that they were freely bred without human intervention. According to history, the Sokoke was originally discovered in Lamu, a Kenyan region that is home to the Arabuko Sokoke National Forest.   

What makes Sokokes stand out from a physical standpoint is their short tabby coats and longer hind legs. They are also well known for being athletic and sociable cats. Due to their intelligence, they can be easily trained to do a few tricks, such as playing fetch. For this reason, they are often compared with canines. However, they do tend to crave lots of attention, and should therefore not be left alone for too long. 

Lastly, Sokokes are an active breed. This means that, if you are planning to bring one home, you will need to provide them with plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy. Consider enriching their living space with toys, perches, and cat trees where they can climb or jump, to prevent aggression, boredom, and other behavioral issues.


In this article, we have summarized five popular domestic cat breeds that have African ancestors, these being Savannahs, Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians, Somalis, and Sokokes. However, keep in mind that we have only mentioned those that are domesticated and can be adopted as family pets. 

There are plenty of other recognized cat breeds that originated in Africa, most of them wild and illegal to be owned as pets. So make sure to do your research if you are planning to own an African cat breed, so that you know what to expect and how to provide the best care for your feline friend.