Domestic Shorthairs

a Domestic Shorthair crouched outside watching something in the distance

Are you looking for a new family pet? If so, the Domestic Shorthair may be the perfect fit for you! Domestic Shorthairs are a breed that have been around for centuries and are known for their friendly personalities and adaptability.

Domestic Shorthairs come in a variety of colors and patterns, from solid black to tabby stripes. They can also have short or long hair, depending on the individual cat.

Domestic Shorthairs are one of the most common cat breeds in the United States. They have been bred over the last few centuries to be smaller than its wild counterparts, making them easier to house and care for. 

Almost 95% of all cats in North America are considered to be a Domestic Shorthair. They were originally thought of as working cats, and they were loved for their rat-catching skills. Because they’re not recognized as a purebred, the CFA lists them in the Household Pet category. They are prized for their unusual markings, pleasing appearance and gentle disposition. 

Domestic Shorthairs have low grooming and moderate attention needs. 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, with traits of playfulness, affection, calmness, sometimes quietness. They can still be quite vocal when they want to tell you something. They’re not an aggressive cat, making them 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 loves to play with toys and use scratching posts. Regular grooming is important for Domestic Shorthairs which includes brushing, claw trimming and teeth brushing. If well taken care of, your cat may live up to twenty years old, giving your family a loving companion for many years.

Domestic Shorthairs are relatively low-maintenance cats. They don’t require a lot of grooming, and they don’t need to be taken for walks like dogs do. They also don’t need a lot of space, so if you live in an apartment or small house, they will fit right in.

Domestic Shorthairs are also very affectionate and loyal cats. They love to cuddle and be around their owners, and they will often follow you from room to room.

Overall, Domestic Shorthairs make great family pets. They’re intelligent, adaptable, low-maintenance, affectionate, and loyal cats that can give your family years of companionship and joy. If you’re looking for a new pet, the Domestic Shorthair may be the perfect fit for you!

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 can be 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
  • 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
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet 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

a Domestic Shorthair kitten that's watching something closely

Because of their mixed ancestry, these cats can have a number 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 be different shapes and sizes, 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 be one of several colors with green, blue, gold, and hazel being the most common colors.

Domestic Shorthairs have short and smooth fur that can be several different colors and patterns. Some of the most common fur patterns are tabby, tuxedo, calico, and tortoiseshell. Their fur can be solid colors without patterns, tricolor, bicolor, that may or not have markings. The most common colors in their fur are gray, orange, white, tan, brown, but they can also have some less common 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.

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.

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 Shorthairs

an older Domestic Shorthair wearing a collar relaxing outside

These cats are intelligent and easy to litter box train. You’ll want to have a litter box that gives them some privacy, and is big enough for them to comfortably fit inside. As long as you can do that you should have no problems getting them to use it. Just remember to keep it clean because a dirty litter box is the main reason why cats stop using the litter box.

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

Like most cats, they do enjoy scratching their nails on things. If you like your furniture looking new it’s a good idea to set up one or two scratching posts around the house. Whenever you see them scratching your furniture or anything else, pick them and take the cat to the nearest scratching post. A scratching post will give them a place they can scratch anytime they have the urge and prevent damage to your furniture. Like teaching them anything, it may take time for them to understand the purpose of the scratching post. If you stick with it 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, watch their behavior. If the new cat is doing things that the other pets don’t like, you should step in to interrupt the behavior. If you want your current pets to accept the new one it’s best to do this before an existing pet gets too annoyed.

Clicker training is becoming more popular now. We have an entire article that shows you how to train your pets with clicker sounds. Basically you 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 they will continue to do it.

Their Compatibility with Children

a Domestic Shorthair cat that looks like they want attention

Domestic Shorthairs are mostly social cats and get along well with children. They usually don’t mind playing with 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 teach your children not to disturb the cats when they are eating or sleeping.

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 can’t handle cold as well as some longhair breeds.

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 let them lay by a fan.

The Attention a Domestic Shorthair Needs

a Domestic Shorthair cat that's about to fall asleep on a bed

Like most cats, they have moderate attention needs. They 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 at least 15 minutes each day playing with them and give them a few minutes of lap time. This will take care of most of their attention needs.

Health Issues

Some Domestic Shorthairs will develop respiratory, digestive, kidney diseases, and urinary conditions but it is very rare.

These cats are considered healthier than most pedigree or purebred cats. Most Domestic Shorthair cats don’t have a hereditary disease or any genetic conditions. They tend to avoid these problems because they are so genetically diverse. Because of their increased genetic diversity they usually live a healthy life with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

One way to help your cat live longer is if you spay or neuter them. Spaying or neutering them greatly reduces the chances of them developing reproductive cancers, or looking for other cats to breed. Having female cats go into heat twice a year is also very stressful for their body. If you don’t plan to breed them, it’s best to get them fixed.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease in cats is a common problem affecting their gums and teeth. It’s caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on their teeth, which leads to bacterial infection in the surrounding gum tissue. The condition can result in pain, inflammation, tooth loss, and other serious health complications if left untreated.

Symptoms of Feline Periodontal Disease

The symptoms of periodontal disease can be subtle and could go unnoticed until the condition has progressed to a more advanced stage. Some common signs to look out for include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Drooling or excessive salivation
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Difficulty eating or reluctance to eat – Pawing at their mouth or face
  • Swelling in their face or jaw

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for a dental examination.

Bathing, Coat, and Cleaning

a black Domestic Shorthair sitting near a plant

Domestic Shorthairs do not have high grooming needs because of their short fur. Brushing their fur twice a week should be enough except while they shed a lot in the spring. Use a soft bristle brush to comb them. The soft bristle brush will help remove loose hair from the fur and keep it clean without pulling on the attached fur.

Cats usually do a good job of keeping themselves clean so give them a bath only if they are not cleaning themselves 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 clean their eye goo and stains, wipe the area around the eyes as needed with a cotton cloth. The soft cloth will help keep their eyes clean of stains or dried tears.

Trim their nails once a week. Keeping their nails short 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.

Every week it is important to check their nose, paws, and other areas of your cat while brushing them for signs of redness or other infections. If you see any signs of infection, call your vet immediately.

Feeding A Domestic Shorthair

a pile of colorful cat food

There is nothing specific for the amount of food when it comes to Domestic Shorthairs. We recommend giving them ¼ to ½ cup (depending on their activity levels) of high-quality cat food daily. This should be divided into two meals.

You should not keep the food out in the open because these cats love to eat and will 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 them 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 improve the cat’s immune system. Consult your vet to find out if the food that you serve has the necessary nutrients.

Related Questions:

What’s the Difference Between Male and Female Domestic Shorthairs?

In terms of appearance, male cats tend to be bigger and heavier than the females, but not always. The rest of the appearance like body structure, the shape of paws, eyes, and ears is the same for both. There is no way to differentiate based on their behavior, both the males and females have their own personalities.

How did Domestic Shorthairs 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. They were great for pest control 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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Contributing Author & Social Media Expert

Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.