Although the Standard of Points for the Abyssinian cat varies from country to country, there is a marked similarity between the best cats of any country, as may easily be seen on the many internet sites.
The Abyssinian is characterized by a gently rounded head, with wide-set, large, tufted and listening ears. The ears extend the lines of the moderate wedge. Eyes are a rounded almond shape, in an Oriental setting. The hair around the eyes is pale and the eyelid edge darker. The Aby has slight nosebreak, rounded muzzle with a slight indentation and a firm chin. Most characteristic of all are the markings, in the ticking colour, which extend from the inner edge of the eye to the top of the head and from the outer edge of the eye to the ears. The "Aby look", so like that of the Lynx or the desert Caracal, centres on the large expressive eyes: their glance is intelligent, mischievous, demanding and yet affectionate and sensitive.
The Abyssinian coat is distinctly ticked, with three or four bands of colour, ending in the ticking colour. A clear undercoat is desirable, but grey roots (in Usual Abyssinians only), a common feature of agouti coats, persist. They are a serious fault if found all over. Today's cats in the United Kingdom usually have the fine short coats specified by the current Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) Standard. However, some modern Aby coats are arguably too short and soft, which probably reflects outcrosses to Siamese and Burmese at various times.
The older-style coat is preferred: fine and dense, resilient and close-lying. The original Abyssinian was a Usual (breed number 23 in the UK and called a Ruddy in most other countries), ideally a rich golden brown, with a ruddy orange or apricot undercoat and black ticking. Then there came a spontaneous mutation, the Sorrel, unique to the Aby (breed number 23a): a lustrous copper colour, with chocolate ticking. The undercoat is bright apricot in colour. It is called Cinnamon elsewhere and invariably indicates Abyssinian genes.
At about the same time, because of the presence of the dilute gene in the breed, Blues and Fawns appeared, pastel versions of Usual and Sorrel. The overall appearance of the Blue Abyssinian (breed number 23c) should be a soft warm blue, ticked with deeper blue-grey. The base hair should be a pinkish mushroom.
The Fawn Aby (breed Number 23e) has a warm fawn coat ticked with deeper fawn, with a fawnish cream undercoat. A white undercoat is undesirable in Blues and Fawns.
Even earlier, there was the occasional Usual Silver, such as Aluminium, an early export to the USA. The Usual Silver’s overall appearance is a clear silver, ticked with black. The base hair is silvery white and any hint of yellow “tarnishing” is undesirable. All these colours now have Championship status in the United Kingdom.
Today, there are significant numbers of Chocolate (breed number 23b: a rich copper brown ticked with dark chocolate) and Lilac Abyssinians (23d: warm, pinkish dove-grey, ticked with deeper dove grey with a pinkish cream undercoat), now advancing towards Championship status. Lilac is the dilute form of Chocolate. The GCCF Colour Standard for Abyssinians lists no less than 28 possible colours, some of which are variations of the original colours and others introductions from outcrosses to Siamese and Burmese.
The GCCF Registration Policy for the breed accepts only Abyssinian to Abyssinian matings for 5 generations, to ensure that all colours retain the correct type. The Abyssinian Breed Advisory Council with representatives from the two Aby clubs has responsibility for the breed Standard in the UK.