The Longhair in our Family Tree

In 1965 a litter of three red/cinnamon Abyssinians was shown at the Federal Cat Club Championship Show. This in itself was an achievement as the reds were only just beginning to appear in N.S.W. There was an added interest in that one of the kittens had a longish coat, a plumed tail, and her little foreign face was framed in a Persian type ruff or bib. A truly enchanting little creature. However Rosie was not to be seen again at shows as she went to live in Gosford where she grew into a lovely cat with a long, lithe body and a magnificent tail - every inch an Aby in type. Later on she was said to have produced one long-haired kitten to Chatwyn Nimrod which died in its first week and hair length was not verified.

Time passed and two more longhaired kittens turned up in two separate litters from the same sire and dam as Rosie. They were Brookdane Rufus and Brookdane Fluffy. Later Fluffy produced a litter of three to her father Coochie Red Rory, but all the kittens died in their first week.

The first red/cinnamon Abyssinians were imported into N.S.W. in 1964 by Thelma Carlisle, Coochie Red Rory from Queensland and Slindon Bedda from Victoria. At that time it was not realised that Slindon Bedda's sire Hillsboro Don Fara (Imp.N.Z.) was a longhaired cat - it was not on his pedigree! Or that back in New Zealand both Rory and Bedda had Hillsboro Ahmid for one great-grandparent, with Finisterre Siri or Finisterre Shendi (Siri's mother's sister) for his mate, but in these facts lie the foundations of the longhaired Abyssinians in N.S.W.

Some little time later (1973) the first usual tawny longhaired male was bred from Brookdane el Raschid, Rory's son, and Pippita Aby Aiesha belonging to June Scott. Here was another line but on tracing Aiesha's pedigree back, one finds that the same two cats, Hillsboro Ahmid and Finisterre Siri were her great-grandparents. Unfortunately this beautiful male Syrinx Tawny Apollo, destined to be used as a stud just disappeared.

In the meantime a W.A. cat living in N.S.W., Abergenny Ninnebah, a daughter of Coochie Golden Ali, Coochie Red Rory's litter brother, was mated to Pippita Aby Kaiser, Aiesha's sister's son, the female from this mating returning to W.A. where she was mated by her grandfather, Coochie Golden Ali. Result - one usual longhaired male who was sold as a pet - apparently after he had impregnated all the local moggies!

The breakthrough came in 1974 when a Tasmanian breeder Sarah Lonergan mated her queen Bethariel Tosca to Pippita Aby Kaiser, keeping the red male from this mating to be her future stud. However when he was just nine months he mated his mother when no one was watching! Of the three kittens from this unplanned mating, one red male was longhaired. So eleven years after Rosie first appeared, Bahrahman Rum Tum Toad came to live in Sydney with Patricia Sheumack, as a future stud. But what of his long hair? It did not come from Kaiser but from a chance doubling up of Tosca's genes. Trace her pedigree back and we find that her great-grandparents were Coochie Red Rory and Slindon Bedda and even further back Hillsboro Don Fara was her great-great- grandfather. Longhair genes a-plenty!

Several months later, another Sydney breeder, Susan Sheard, had two longhaired males in a litter of four to Trubac Aby Gaylord and Kaisoa Sara. Gaylord was, of course, a great-grandson of Coochie Red Rory and Sam goes back five generations to Hillsboro Ahmid and Finisterre Siri through both parents. Yafeh Karim was retained as a future stud. But what could be done with two longhaired males? It was decided to mate two Mindal queens, Mindal Precious Jade and Mindal Sesame to Toad, the result being eight variants. Of these, the four girls were mated to Yafeh Karim, and the best male of Jade's litter, Mindal Beau Sabreur was retained as a stud. Then at last we had our longhairs - seven of them. Two unfortunately died in the first week but the other four girls went on to be prolific queens, and the one remaining male Lampliter By Jove became a stud for a limited period. The first all Somali litter of four kittens was born in December 1978, when Yafeh Somalia was mated back to her father Karim.

Four dedicated breeders then set about the task of producing the thirty registered Somalis required for championship status. This was achieved in 1980 and in February 1981 Somalis took their place on the bench alongside their shorthair brothers with full status. By 1984 one hundred Somalis had appeared on the state register.

That is the fairy story. Now the facts that made it possible. Hilisboro Ahmid and Finisterre Siri, both New Zealand cats from English stock (Taishun Fernando and Selbourne Catalpa) had two sons Skyways Abdul and Skyways Caliph. Abdul went to Mrs Esme Henry in Queensland and Caliph to Howard Scott in Victoria. Abdul mated to Finisterre Flame produced Coochie Red Rory (Thelma Carlisile), Coochie Golden Ali (Mrs Baker, W.A.), and Coochie Selassie (Mr & Mrs Campbell (W.A.). Caliph mated to Tang Alia gave Eilandonna Red Prince (Annie Burt) who is behind Aiesha and Kaiser and a proven variant, and Eilandonna Tixier who is behind Gaylord. Tracing these cats further back in England, one finds that an English gentleman by the name of Bruerne Achilles comes up behind each of their eight grandparents. Of this cat the English genealogist Mr Derek Traill said in a communication to Diane Royal (Harrison) in 1974, "There has been a suggestion that this male may have carried the gene for longhair, and reports of such kittens still occur from time to time. Undoubtedly they did, but as the Americans say "they were swept under the carpet". With the aid of Sonia Dowty's mother's English catalogues and stud guides, it was possible to trace Bruerne Achilles (born 26.8.51) back four generations and most of his grandparents a further four or more generations to cats born in the 1920's and during the first world war, even to one Ras Dashan born in 1902.

Among these one finds delightful names such as Tim the Harvester, Gold Tick, Ch. Pipbun, Tootsie, Pippin and Geisha Girl. Few have 23 after their names, but it is hoped that they were at least 'half' Abyssinians. An interesting fact is that seven generations behind Achilles is the mystical cat Brooke's Self Red or Ras Brooke. The late Mrs Dorothy Windsor in an article in English Cat's Magazine in 1958, talking of her first red female Prim (Adrah Saba) who was a daughter of Achilles, mentions that Mr Brooke's Self Red appears four times on her mother's side and eight times behind Achilles. So perhaps our cinnamon Abyssinians and our Somalis have a common ancestor?

Another English cat, Croham Rosambu born circa 1940 also appears three times as Achilles great-grandparents and is said to have been mated to everything on sight including a cat called Winter Jasmine (1941) who was known "to have a Chinchilla down the road for a sire". This is authenticated by Mrs Iris Wiseman in a letter to the Somali Journal of Great Briton and reprinted in the Abyssinian Journal (Vo1.17). Rosambu was also mated to Roverdale Purkins and the female of this union Roverdale Tara was the grandmother of Raby Chuffa of Selene who went to the U.S.A. and is thought to be the foundation of the Somalis in America.

Patricia Sheumack.
Reprinted & revised from 1977, 1999.



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