Origins of the Somali Cat

In 1976 we began an investigation into the origins of the Longhair Abyssinian. The purpose of our investigation was twofold. The first was simple curiosity. The second and far more important reason was to gain CFA Championship status . During these early years there was much opposition from Aby breeders who believed that we, as Somali breeders, were hybridizing the Abyssinian. Such was not the case.

The following report is a reprint of the document that was presented to the CFA Board of Directors at the meeting that culminated in the historic vote granting Championship status to the Somali cat as a legitimate, recognized breed.

NOTE: For a capsule review of basic genetic facts you may go to A WORD ABOUT GENETICS before reading the report.



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Table Of Contents
Page 1 Introduction
       A Study of the Somali Pedigrees (1976)
       The Family Tree
       Ch. Dalai Robin of Mehitabel
       GR CH. Sheramain's Dabru

Page 2 The Family Tree
       Gr Ch. Chota Li's R.S.T.
       Ring's Abi Abdel of Selene
       May Ling Tutseita of Dunedin
          Dalai Robin of Mehitabel
          Sheramain's Dabru
          Chota Li's R.S.T.
          Ring's Abi Abdel
          May Ling Tutseita
          Dalai Deta Tim of Selene
          Selene's Sha of Shermax

Page 3 The Roots
       Raby Chuffa of Selene
       Chuffa's pedigree
       The Making of a Somali
       A typical Somali pedigree, 1976

Page 4 Conclusion
       Guest Book
       Other Somali Cat Sites

The Final Chapter
1998 Update

Early Club Newlsletters
The 1970's

Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | HOME PAGE


A Study of the Somali Pedigrees

by Walter Del Pellegrino


At the time of this publication there are approximately one hundred and ten Somalis registered with the Cat Fanciers Association. Many of these are second and third generation, but many are the result of Abyssinian to Abyssinian matings or Abyssinian to Somali matings. These breedings that produce first generation long-hairs indicate that the Aby parents are definite carriers of that recessive gene.

While we are fairly certain that the majority of the currently active Abyssinians are genotypically homozygous (genetically uniform) as regards their coat length the question of whence the heterozygous Aby (long-hair gene carrier) developed has, until now, been a subject opened to nothing more than biased conjecture.

This study, merely because it is the first of its kind to be made public, should in no way be construed as the ultimate answer to the question of the Somali's origins. This first effort to unravel the mystery of the breed's conception should, instead, be seen as one person's attempt to discern fact from fiction and to assimilate and interpret those facts as viewed from that individual's vantage point.

The following investigation is based on information culled from an array of feline publications, various correspondences between myself and numerous Abyssinian and Somali breeders across the U.S. and Canada and most notably the accumulated sketch pedigrees of the Somali Cat Club of America (non-affiliated) and the stud books as supplied by the Stud Book Fanciers Association. Because this article has been founded upon available information and not upon secreted or priviledged data it should be with relative ease that those interested in the subject can retrace the various aspects of my research and perhaps offer a new view on the subject. I, for one, would welcome the addition of new investigators for this type of inquiry, much like any branch of science or history, is always open to interpretation and is eternally subject to review and revision in light of ever increasing discoveries.

Although my probe has not, unfortunately, revealed how the long-hair gene was introduced it does, I believe, firmly establish the origins of today's modern Somali as well as discerns those major lines of Abyssinians which have a high probability of bearing the elusive long-hair gene.

The reason I have chosen the adjective "modern" before the Somali breed name is that it has become obvious to me in my research that long-hair Abyssinians were known to exist many decades ago (see 'Child of the Gods' by S. Denham). However these early examples of the breed were allowed to stagnate, often being neutered and sold as pets or, worse yet, destroyed in order to secret the existence of the long-hair gene in established Abyssinian catteries.

Today almost all of our registered Somalis have a pedigree that sprang from those early examples of the long-hair Aby that Mrs. Evelyn Mague of the United States, Mr. Ken McGill and Mr. and Mrs. Don Richings of Canada were able to save from obliteration. It is this early foundation stock that formed the basis of the "modern" Somali and it was from these early examples that I have attempted to trace back the pedigrees to a common denominator.

Walter Del Pellegrino
Nov. 1976

The Family Tree

An extensive study of available Somali pedigrees, especially those where the cat was a product of an Abyssinian to Abyssinian mating, indicates that there are four Abyssinians fundamentally responsible for the creation of the modern Somali. Most registered Somalis can trace their parentage back to one or more of the following felines:

1. Champion Dalai Robin of Mehitabel
Ruddy male Abyssinian

Robin's name appears on a generous sprinkling of three generation pedigrees and when the history of the modern Somali is traced back to the fourth, fifth and sixth generations his name becomes surprisingly dominant, particularly when researching the pedigrees of Somalis born in the United States.

As far as can be determined Robin sired three carriers of the long-hair gene in addition to producing two Somalis. Those felines pertinent to this report are:

a) Mei Len's Mariah of Lynn Lee
ruddy female Abyssinian
dam - Hermcrest Abigail of Mei Len

Mariah's best known progeny, in terms of the modern Somalis history is Qt. Ch. Lynn Lee's Lord Dublin, a male Abyssinian. Lord Dublin has produced many Abyssinians, who because they have inherited the recessive long-hair gene, have proved vital in the establishment of the Somali. Among these are Lynn Lee's Joralemon and Lynn Lee's Sasha, the sire and dam of the famous June's Dancing Moon, our first All-American Somali. Lord Dublin is also directly responsible for such long-hair Abyssinians as Lo Mi R's Tawa, Lynn Lee's Petunia and Pollyanna, all females and Lynn Lee's Catfish, a male.

b) Grand Champion Mei Len's Sasha
female Abyssinian
dam - Hermcrest Abigail of Mei Len

In a mating where Robin was paired back to his daughter Sasha, the litter included a Somali, Mei Len's Topaze. Topaze in turn produced Somalis like Margus Ulysses of Chapaka and Margus Tafne, our second All-American Somali.

c) Lo Mi R's Trill-by of Lynn Lee
ruddy female Abyssinian
dam - Van Lynn's Summer Gold of Margate

With the mating of Trill-by to Lord Dublin (second generation out of Robin) Lo Mi R's Tawa was born. Among Tawa's more impressive offspring have been Dalai's Tangleweed, Golden Boise of Lynn Lee and Taffita of Mem-Marti. Lo Mi R's Tawa and Mei Len's Topaze, as mentioned, are two Somalis sired by Champion Dalai Robin of Mehitabel. Of a total of fifty-four Somali sketch pedigrees which I originally had available Robin's name appears on twenty-eight. Robin's contribution to the establishment of the breed has been truly paramount.

2. Grand Champion Sheramain's Dabru
Ruddy male Abyssinian

Dabru's role in the history of the modern Somali's struggle for acceptance comes in the form of two outstanding Abyssinians. These two felines have not only had a profound effect upon the Somali but have added immensely towards the goals of perfecting the Abyssinian.

a) Triple Grand, Quadruple and International Champion
Sheramain's Yankee Sultan of Du-Ro-Al

ruddy male Abyssinian
dam - Sunra II of Sheramain

Sultan, truly one of the more magnificent examples of his breed, is as of this writing still siring kittens. Although well on in years this last May (1976) Sultan's latest offspring, a ruddy male Aby was born to the Du-Ro-Al cattery of Mrs. Alma Cowell.

Because Sultan had been so much in demand and because he was such a prolific stud it would be impossible to list all his offspring in a report of this size, however, below is a sample of some of the more outstanding contributors to Somali history. Those Abyssinians important to this report appear on the left and some examples of Somalis who can find Yankee Sultan in their pedigree appear on the right.

Figure # 1

Abyssinians Somalis
Du-Ro-Al Top Brass Du-Ro-Al Samson of Lynn Lee
Du-Ro-Al Melissa Winery's Champagne Brut
Du-Ro-Al Eric the Red Foxtail Mimosa

b) Double Champion Sheramain's Krisha of White Cloud
ruddy male Abyssinian
dam - Sunra II of Sheramain

When Krisha was mated to Gr.Ch. Kalyan Amber of Kon-Ke-Ke (a ruddy female Aby) they produced Kon-Ke-Ke's Atlee of Lili Pets, a male Aby who carried the recessive long-hair gene. Atlee in turn sired a red female, Lili-Pet Tangerine. The father-daughter mating of Atlee to Tangerine produced yet another red Aby, Ch. Lili-Pet's Rufus. These Abyssinians were the forbearers of such well-known Somalis as Don-Al's Segeema, DeKater's Baron, Don-Al's Trish and Lili-Pet's Forever Amber.

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