a domestic shorthair ready for anything

Domestic Shorthairs

Almost 95% of all cats in North America are considered as belonging to the Domestic Shorthair breed. They were originally thought of as working cats, as they were known for their rat-catching abilities. This breed falls into the Household Pet category and is prized for their unusual markings, pleasing appearance and gentle disposition. 

Domestic Shorthairs have low grooming and moderate attention requirements. Though they are a mix of various breeds, most of them are of medium size and rather muscular while fewer are smaller or larger, depending on their particular genetic composition.

The Domestic Shorthair is a social breed, exhibiting traits of playfulness, affection, calmness, sometimes quietness, and at other times, vocally. This is not an aggressive cat, making for a good companion for children, seniors and other pets. The playful side of their personality can be seen as skillful endurance, balancing/leaping and a strong hunting instinct. 

This breed appreciates the opportunity to play with toys and to use scratching posts. Regular grooming is important for Domestic Shorthairs which includes brushing, claw trimming and tooth brushing. Your cat may live up to twenty years old, providing loving companionship for their lifetime.

Domestic Shorthair Information

  • Average Height: 8 to 10 inches
  • Average Length: Medium Length
  • Average Weight: 6 to 16 pounds
  • Coat Type: Short length
  • Coat Appearance: They have a short and smooth looking fur
  • Coat Colors: Their fur comes in all varieties of patterns and colors – solid, bicolor, or tricolor; with or without markings.
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Shedding: Low shedding
  • Brushing Requirements: They should be brushed twice a week
  • Sensitive to Touch: With family fine but hit or miss with strangers
  • Excessive Meow: No
  • Good tolerance to Heat and Cold: Cold yes, heat no. 
  • Good Pet: They are friendly and calm, so yes!
  • Safe with Children: With training, yes!
  • Good with Other Cats: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: Yes
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Suitable for First-Time Cat Owners: They are calm and easy to groom so yes! 
  • Exercise Needs: Medium need
  • Weight Gain: High
  • Health Concerns: They are mostly healthy and do not seem to have hereditary diseases or genetic conditions.
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Physical Appearance of Domestic Shorthairs 

Because of their mixed ancestry, these cats can come in all sorts of different appearances. Sometimes they may look like a particular feline breed but it is just a resemblance of the genetic characteristics of the cat. They have been selectively crossbred to maintain certain standards that give most of these cats some consistent features like their short fur.

Though these cats can come in different sizes and shapes, most cats have a medium-sized muscular body with round heads and paws. They have a broad chest, short legs, and a medium-length tail. Their eyes are round and can come in several colors with common colors being green, blue, gold, and hazel.  

Domestic Shorthairs have a short and smooth fur that can be found in several colors and patterns. Some popular fur patterns are tabby, tuxedo, calico, and tortoiseshell. Their fur can have solid colors, tricolor, bicolor, that may or not have markings. You can find them in gray, orange, white, tan, brown, and all sorts of different colors. Some cats can also have uncommon fur colors like smoke, silver, and white fur.

Temperament of Domestic Shorthairs

Like everything else, Domestic Shorthair cats can have varying personalities. By large, they are known to be affectionate, playful, quiet, vocal, calm, or obedient. 

a sleepy domestic shorthair laying in bed

Overall, they are calm and not very vocal. They do not usually become aggressive towards children or strangers. They are known to be friendly and can get along really well with other pets. This is why they are considered excellent house cats.

a happy domestic shorthair outside

Their attitudes towards strangers can be hit or miss.  Some love strangers, and others will hide for their entire visit.  It is impossible to know how they will react before you have them in your home.

Training a Domestic Shorthair

These cats are intelligent and easy to train. As long as you have a litter box that gives them some privacy, and is big enough for them to comfortably fit inside you should have no problems with them using it.  Just remember to keep it clean as this is the main reason why a cat may not use the litter box.

You may see a few accidents in the beginning but do not punish them. Give them praise and treats whenever they use the litter box. This will help them to understand what kind of behavior is expected of them. 

To take care of their scratching habits, set up scratching posts around the house. Whenever you see them scratching your furniture or any other object, pick them and take the cat to the nearest scratching post. This will take care of their scratching habits and also prevent damage to your furniture. It may take time for them to get used to it in the beginning but eventually, they will learn.

If you already have pets in your home then there are some basic steps to take to teach the new cat how to interact with the existing pets.  After you’ve introduced the new cat to each pet, observe their behavior.  If the new cat is doing things that the other pets don’t like, you should step in and tell them no.  You want to do this before an existing pet tells the new one for you.

Clicker training is becoming more popular now. Make a noise with the clicker when the cat does something which is considered good behavior. It will let them know that this is something that you like and hopefully will do it more frequently.

Their Compatibility with Children

Domestic Shorthairs are mostly social cats and get along well with children. They do not mind playing with the children or being held by them. Some Domestic Shorthairs are really affectionate and will enjoy doing all sorts of things with children. However, since their personalities vary you should be careful about introducing them to children all at once.

Always teach kids how they are supposed to behave with the cats, and how to hold them. Teach them to be gentle and soft in their interactions with the cats. You should also teach your children not to disturb the cats when they are eating. 

Until you know how they will play together it is always a good idea to have an adult monitor them.  This way you can prevent accidents from occurring.

Best Climate for Domestic Shorthairs

Domestic Shorthairs are most comfortable at typical home temperatures, 65 to 80 degrees. Because they have short fur, they cannot handle extreme cold well. 

a domestic shorthair ready to play
a cute domestic shorthair kitten

If the temperature in your home passes 90 degrees make sure that they have access to cool water so they can stay hydrated.  It’s also not a bad idea to find them something cool to lay on if you can, or a fan.

The Attention a Domestic Shorthair Needs

Like most cats, they have moderate attention needs. They also enjoy spending time with their owners. They are affectionate without being needy. This means that you will not find them always sitting on your lap or following you around the house. Spend 15 minutes each day playing with them and give them a few minutes of lap time. This will take care of their attention needs.

Health Issues

Like most cats, the most common health condition is periodontal disease. This is a common tooth and gum condition found in the cats. It becomes serious when the plaque build up in the mouth enters the bloodstream. This can further lead to kidney and liver diseases. To prevent this brush their teeth regularly.

Some cats can have respiratory, digestive, kidney diseases, and urinary conditions but it is very rare.

These cats are considered healthier than most pedigree or purebred cats. You will not find many of these cats having hereditary diseases or genetic conditions. This is mostly because they are so genetically diverse.  This allows them to live a healthy life with a lifespan of between 12 to 14 years. 

You can help extend their lifespan further if you spay or neuter them.  This is because it greatly reduces the chances of them developing cancers, or seeking out other cats to breed.  Having female cats go into heat twice a year is also very stressful for their body.  So if you don’t plan to breed them, get them fixed.

Bathing, Coat, and Cleaning

Domestic Shorthairs do not have high grooming needs because of their short fur. Brushing their fur twice a week should be enough. Use a soft bristle brush to comb them. This will help to remove loose hair from the fur and keep it clean. 

Cats usually do a good job of keeping themselves clean so give them a bath only if they are not doing it well. If their fur gets oily or dirty, you can bathe them using a high-quality cat shampoo.

Cats are known to have teary eyes. To take care of this, wipe the area around the eyes as needed with a cotton cloth. This will help to keep the area clean of stains.

Trim their nails once every week. This will prevent damage to your furniture and lessen the chances of them accidentally hurting someone while playing with them. Check their ears every week for wax build-up. If you need to remove the wax, use a moist cotton cloth to gently clean only the visible part of the ears.

Check the paws, eyes, ears, and the skin under the fur once every week for any signs of redness or infection. If you find any, take them to the vet to have it checked.

a black domestic shorthair outside
a large pile of multi colored cat food

Feeding A Domestic Shorthair

There is nothing specific for the meal size when it comes to the Domestic Shorthairs. It is recommended to give them ¼ to ½ cup of high-quality cat food daily. This should be divided into two meals. You should not keep the food out in the open as these cats love to eat and easily put on weight if overfed.  Avoid giving them table scraps because it’s not as good for them as their own food is. 

The food that you feed should contain taurine which is an essential nutrient that every cat needs. It is an amino acid that nourishes the brain, eyes, and also helps to improve the immune system of the cats. Consult your vet to find out if the food that you serve has the necessary nutrients. 

Related Questions:

What is the difference between male and female Domestic Shorthair?

In terms of appearance, male cats tend to be bigger and heavier than the females. The rest of the appearance like body structure, the shape of paws, eyes, and ears is the same for both. When it comes to behavior both the males and females have the same personality.

How did they originate?

These cats are considered thousands of years old and were first domesticated in Egypt. The Pilgrims brought them to America on the Mayflower for pest control. This was because they were considered great hunters and were not very demanding. They kept the food supplies on the ship safe from rodents and other pests.

Is the Domestic Shorthair a recognized breed?

No, they are not recognized as a unique breed by the Cat Fanciers Association. The Domestic Shorthair is recognized in the Household Pet category by the association. It is a category in which cats are placed into a single group without any distinction based on fur length, age, color, or sex.

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