A brown tabby cat. Tabbies are sometimes thought to be a cat breed. However, the word tabby only refers to their coat markings. Domestic cats are descended from African wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica). They became a domestic species around 8000 BC, in the Middle East. They are little different from wild cats, so they can easily interbreed. The majority of cats kept as pets, including tabby cats, are called domestic cats—sometimes simply "moggies". Those listed below are pedigree cats: their ancestry contains only cats of the same breed. Many pedigree cats are exhibited at cat shows. They are judged on being as close to the physical ideal of the cat breed as possible.
Abyssinians are a breed of short-haired cat with a unique coat, in which the individual hairs are banded with different colours. The name "Abyssinian" refers to its supposed country of origin, Ethiopia, whose old name was Abyssinia. It was thought British soldiers in North Africa in the 19th century returned home with wildcat kittens purchased from local traders. More recent research, however, suggests that they actually originated near the Egyptian coast. In ancient Egypt, Abyssinian cats were called the "children of the gods". Abyssinians' coats are dark when they are born but gradually lighten as they get older. Each hair is light at the base but then has three or four bands of darker colour going towards the tip.
The name "Rex" is often used to describe curly fur in pets. It originates from when King Albert I of Belgium entered some curly-haired rabbits into a show. They did not meet the show standard, but the judges, aware that they did not want to offend the king, instead wrote "Rex", the Latin word for "king", next to their names.
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