If you’ve ever visited Greece and seen a white cat hanging out in a village with fish in its mouth, you may have encountered an Aegean cat. This rare breed originated in the Greek Isles and has stayed close to that area ever since.
But how do you identify an Aegean cat? Is it truly an Aegean, or just an ordinary stray or feral cat? There are a few key ways to find out. We’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about this fascinating breed!
Aegean Cat Breed Origin & History
Aegean cats originated on the Cycladic Islands in the Aegean Sea. They occurred naturally in the region, with archaeological evidence showing signs of them prowling the area over 10,000 years ago. Over the years, Aegean cats migrated to Greece on fishing and trading boats, welcomed by the villagers because of their mouse-hunting prowess.
Aegeans are now common in Greece and Turkey, having been domesticated for centuries. They are considered one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds. While they are used to being around people — and even enjoy their presence — most Agean cats still live in feral colonies.
In the past few decades, Agean cats have been recognized as their own distinct breed. Formal breeding of these Greek cats started in the 1990s. There are now Aegean cat breeders, although it would be tough to find one outside of Greece.
Aegean Breed Personality
The Aegean cat is fond of people, having lived around them for centuries. They are considered friendly towards people and can be great house pets.
Once an Aegean cat gets more accustomed to daily life in your home, this breed is even known to become quite affectionate. They love being pet and don’t mind being picked up or carried.
Known for their intelligence, Aegeans are good communicators. They will meow to let you know what they want or how they’re feeling.
Aegeans are also very energetic. While not destructive or mischievous, this cat thrives on activities and challenges. They’ll enjoy a good play session with you, though it might be best to get a bit more creative than laser pointers and ribbons with this smart breed.
The Aegean cat loves water — and fishing! Some people even take their Aegean fishing with them.
Aegean Cat Breed Characteristics
Since the Aegean is not registered and isn’t often bred, it can be challenging to identify an Aegean. Luckily, there are plenty of defining characteristics for this cat, from its coat color and pattern to its size and features.
Aegean Cat Size
The Aegean is a medium-sized cat with a muscular, lean frame. Their tail is long and thick, sometimes hooked. The Aegean usually weighs around 10 pounds.
The Aegean cat’s ears can help identify them. They are distinctly broad at the base and set widely apart atop their head. The ears have rounded tips. All Aegean cats have almond-shaped eyes.
The most common eye color for an Aegean is green. Though, their eyes can be blue or gold, depending on the coat color and pattern.
Legs & Paws
Likely due to their affinity for fishing and hunting, Aegean cats have noticeably big and round paws. Their legs are often described as muscular, another result of their active lifestyle.
The Aegean cat has semi-long hair, which is often described as bushy. They appear more shorthaired during the summer months and longhaired in the winter. Even during seasonal shedding, their tail remains thick and fluffy.
Aegeans have a multicolored coat featuring two or three colors. White is always the primary color, covering most of their body. The other colors are typically blue, black, cream, or red.
Aegean Cat Breed Care
This is a cat breed that’s used to being outside. Of course, being outside can present a variety of problems both for the cat and the environment.
Cats can easily fall victim to diseases, aggressive dogs, predators, or cars when allowed to roam. But cats are not all too innocent themselves. In Australia, domestic cats are a big reason why over 30 mammals went extinct. Since the Aegean is such an avid hunter and fisher, it’s even more important to keep them inside to protect birds and mammals in your neighborhood.
Indoor Aegeans need cat trees, cat shelves, and other fun things to climb and explore in your home. They also love having enclosed outdoor areas like porches. You can even create a space outside specifically for your Aegean to play around in. These areas allow the cat to lounge in the sun and enjoy the outdoors, just like they would in Greece.
Make sure Aegeans don’t have access to koi ponds or fish tanks. Instead, provide them with plenty of challenging toys and puzzles that keep them occupied and curious.
Brush your Aegean cat once a week to avoid excess shedding and hairballs. You should also brush their teeth regularly to prevent dental disease and check their ears for dirt and wax buildup. Ear cleaning can prevent nasty infections, so make sure you examine their ears regularly.
The Aegean is one of the healthiest cat breeds in the world. Since they have not been selectively bred, these kitties have no known feline genetic diseases.
Of course, you should always take your Aegean to the vet, just like you would any other cat. They can live long, healthy lives when a veterinarian regularly sees them.
Just like all domestic felines, Aegean cats need a protein-rich diet. Always make sure the cat food you choose has protein listed as the first ingredient.
Although cats like variety, it’s safe to choose a fish-related protein source for your Aegean, like salmon or tuna. They may prefer canned food if they’re already used to eating fish directly from the water.
Avoid dry cat food that has a high amount of carbohydrates. These are considered fillers because cats don’t need wheat or corn in their diet.
Carbohydrates are also the main reason your cat food may be making your cat overweight. Cats can also develop allergies to these fillers. Instead, find cat food with taurine, a fat source, and vitamins.
Children & Other Pets
Aegeans will enjoy playing with other cats if they’re introduced properly. The Aegean is likely used to being around a lot of other cats. They lived in colonies around Greece for centuries, so having other cats to bond with is often welcome.
It’s essential to take steps that ensure your two cats get used to each other’s scents and presence before coming face-to-face.
Since this breed is used to life among humans, they are also accustomed to dogs. You may notice the Aegean is not as scared around loud noises as other breeds, and a playful dog will most likely not send them running.
Aegeans love being part of the everyday hustle and bustle of your household. They enjoy lively families, including children. An active household is just another chance for them to interact with people and have a fun play date. Just be sure to watch interactions with younger children, who may not know the ins and outs of how to play with a kitty properly.
More About This Breed
In Greece, the Aegean is known as a national treasure, and the culture fully embraces them. While this Greek breed is quite common in that area — you can spot them sunbathing on walls or hanging around fishing boats — they’re not often found anywhere else in the world.
The most common way to get an Aegean of your own is to visit the Greek Isles and the Aegean Sea and take one back with you! Be aware that bringing a pet back into the country requires an International Health Certificate from a veterinarian and a rabies vaccine. Speak to a veterinarian about your state’s laws regarding international pets.