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The Somali is the long-haired version of the Abyssinian.
Health and welfare issues
Although most Somalis are healthy cats there are a few hereditary diseases which are known to appear in their near relative the Abyssinian and may, therefore, be linked to this breed too. Abyssinian cats can suffer from an inherited disease called pyruvate kinase deficiency that can cause anaemia. A reliable test is available for this and prospective owners should ask breeders if their cats have been tested and are clear of the problem. An eye problem, called progressive retinal atrophy, which causes progressive blindness has been indentified in some countries so it is worth asking the breeder about this as well.
We have limited the information about inherited disorders to those conditions that are known and proven to exist within a breed. For many breeders and many conditions, insufficient information may be available at this time to know whether any particular breed is necessarily free of any particular condition.
In general, pedigree breeds use a much smaller gene pool for breeding than domestic cats and therefore have a higher risk of developing inherited disorders. In addition, a number of ‘newer’ pedigreee breeds are derived from matings between one or more ‘older’ breeds, and in these situations perpetuation of inherited problems that were seen in older breeds is likely within the newer breeds.