Also known as the “moggy or DSH“, the domestic shorthair is the most common type of cat to share our home. They are not a purebred breed of cat, rather a cat of unknown/mixed origin. As a result, they come in all manner of shapes and sizes depending on their background.
Some domestic shorthairs may have purebred genes in their ancestry, which may or may not be evident. However it is less common than in dogs, especially now when breeders are very strict about desexing non-breeding cats before they go to their new home.
All cats (purebred or not) evolved from one common ancestor. From there, they diverged into separate breeds via a series of genetic mutations.
Evolution has a remarkable way of working. Cats evolved naturally to suit their environment, for example cats who migrated to colder climates grew thicker fur to withstand cold temperatures (Siberian cat, Norwegian Forest cat, Persian). Other breeds were selectively bred (such as the British Shorthair and American Shorthair) and some breeds of cats came about by a spontaneous genetic mutation, such as the Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Sphynx and Scottish Fold.
Appearance of the domestic shorthair
There is no one ‘type’ with the domestic, they come in all sizes and shapes. Mostly they are a fairly average sized cat, weighing in between 4 – 6 kg. Males tend to be larger than females.
There is nothing extreme about these cats, they are well proportioned. Eye colour can range from gold through to green and blue. Some domestics even have odd eyes. One green, one blue.
Domestic shorthair colours
Every imaginable coat colour can be found in domestic shorthairs. Common colours and patterns found in domestics include black, pointed, tuxedo, silver tabby, ginger, ginger, ginger and white, calico, blue, blue and white and white.
Domestic cats can also have any eye colour including blue, copper, green, yellow and even odd eyes such as one blue, one green.
Temperament of the domestic shorthair
Just like the appearance and colour of the domestic, their temperament varies enormously. Even with purebred cats, you can get an idea of certain traits they may have (Siamese are known for being talkative, but I’m sure there are quiet ones out there). Temperament really depends on the background the cat has come from, the parents, and just how that cat is.
Being taken away from their mother too early can have an impact on the temperament of the cat, which is why it is usually recommended that they don’t leave for their new home until they are at least 8 weeks of age. This is obviously not always possible with domestics, but definitely a plus.
I’ve had several domestics myself and all have been friendly, outgoing with no extreme tendencies. They got along with me, with other people, with children. They were good, all round cats.
Where to find a domestic shorthair
Domestics make wonderful pets. There are always more cats needing homes than there are homes for them. If you are looking to bring a domestic (or two) into your home, the best place you can look is your local shelter. They will be able to show you around cats needing a home and match the perfect cat for your home situation.
I always think it’s important to consider your home situation when choosing a cat. Are you out of the house for long periods of time? If so, an independent natured cat is better suited, or even two cats to keep each other company. Do you have young children? A laid back cat is best for families with kids. Does the cat talk a lot? Some people love a talkative cat, others prefer the strong but silent type.
Wherever you obtain your domestic, he should have had at least two vaccinations and been treated regularly for fleas and worms, even if he was indoors.
If at all possible, adopt a domestic who has stayed with his mother for a minimum of ten weeks. I know tiny kittens are adorable, but those extra few weeks with their mum and siblings are so important in regards to learning social skills. Another option is to adopt an older cat. These cats are often overlooked and have so much to offer. What you see is what you get with an adult cat, you know how large he is, and you know his temperament. I would go as far as saying a senior cat is even better. Senior cats (over eight) still have plenty of life in them, but they are much more mellow.
Domestic shorthairs have very little needs. Regular grooming (once a week) to help get rid of loose hairs, and trimming the claws. Your cat will need to be fed twice a day, treated for parasites such as worms and fleas regularly.
Dental care is important for all cats. A cat toothbrush and toothpaste can be used, or alternatively you can feed your domestic raw chicken wings or human grade chunks of steak two to three times a week.
As with all cats, domestics should see a veterinarian once a year for a health check.
The lifespan of a domestic shorthair ranges from 10 – 15 years.
Did you know?
You can show domestic cats! Most cat councils have a category for household pets. So if you think your cat has the looks and the personality, and you would like to meet other cat lovers, why not give it a try?