What Is a Domestic Shorthair Cat?
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What Is a Domestic Shorthair Cat?

Domestic shorthair cats, often abbreviated as DSH, are among the most beloved and commonly owned cats in households worldwide. Characterized by their short, sleek fur and broad genetic makeup, these cats can display various colors and patterns. 

Unlike purebred cats, which adhere to a strict breed standard, the domestic shorthair category is more of an “umbrella” term encompassing mixed-breed cats without a pedigree. It's the very diversity and uniqueness of each domestic shorthair that has contributed to their widespread admiration.

Domestic Shorthair Cat Breed History

Tracing the history of the domestic shorthair is like diving deep into the annals of human civilization. Cats, in general, have been human companions for thousands of years. Originating in Africa and Asia, domesticated cats traveled the world with early explorers, traders, and settlers. 

As these cats interbred over centuries, a robust and diverse gene pool laid the foundation for the domestic shorthair cats we know today. These cats were cherished for their companionship and prowess in controlling rodent populations, a trait that remains strong even today.

Domestic Shorthair Physical Traits

Body Size and Shape

The DSH generally has a medium to large, muscular, and well-balanced body. Their legs are sturdy, and their paws are round. To answer the question “How big do domestic shorthair cats get?” they typically weigh between 8 to 15 pounds, with males often being larger than females.


The head of a Domestic Shorthair is often rounded, but given the vast genetic diversity, some might exhibit slightly more elongated or angular faces. Their cheeks are often full, especially in males.


The eyes of a DSH can be its most captivating feature. They are usually round and can come in various colors, often correlating with the cat's coat color. For instance, white cats might have blue, green, or even one of each (heterochromia), while a copper or deep gold eye color is prevalent in cats with an orange coat.

Coat and Color

The coat, as the name suggests, is short but can range from very sleek and close to the body to slightly plush. The coat is dense and provides the cat with insulation against various weather conditions. Regarding colors and patterns, the Domestic Shorthair is a true kaleidoscope. They can be found in virtually every cat color and pattern, including but not limited to solid (like black, white, blue, or red), tabby (mackerel, spotted, or classic), calico, tortoiseshell, and bi-color.

As for the types of domestic shorthair cats, it's a misnomer. Since DSH isn't a specific breed, the "type" refers to the coat color and pattern. 

Domestic Shorthair Personalities

Just as their appearance can vary greatly, so can their personalities. Most domestic shorthairs are known for being friendly, playful, and sociable. They tend to get along well with children and other pets. Their intelligent and curious nature makes them keen observers and quick learners. But, as with all cats, early socialization is key to a well-adjusted adult cat.

a cat sitting on top of a table next to a ball
a cat sitting on top of a table next to a ball

Caring for Your Domestic Shorthair

Domestic shorthairs, with their short coat, require minimal grooming. A weekly brushing is usually enough to keep their coat healthy and free from loose hairs. They are also known to be quite clean, often meticulously grooming themselves.

One concern for indoor cats is exercise. Without the natural stimuli of the outdoors, providing them with toys, playtime, and interaction is crucial to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. One common question is, “How long do domestic shorthair cats live indoors?” On average, with proper care and regular vet check-ups, an indoor domestic shorthair can live anywhere from 12 to 15 years or even longer.

Domestic Shorthair Cats Hypoallergenic Feature

While many people wonder if DSH cats are hypoallergenic, the truth is that no cat is truly hypoallergenic. However, due to their short coat, DSH cats might produce fewer allergens than some long-haired breeds.

Domestic Shorthair Health Problems

The wide genetic pool of domestic shorthair cats makes them less susceptible to many genetic diseases afflicting purebred cats. However, they are not immune to health issues.

Top Claims for the Domestic Shorthair

  • Obesity: One of the most common health concerns for domestic shorthairs, especially those that live indoors, is obesity. Overfeeding, lack of exercise, or both can contribute to this condition. Obesity can lead to other health problems like diabetes, arthritis, and liver disease.

  • Dental Disease: Like other cat breeds and types, DSH cats can suffer from dental problems, including gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth resorption. Regular dental check-ups and at-home dental care can help prevent these issues.

  • Upper Respiratory Infections: While these infections can affect any cat, those in multi-cat households or cats recently adopted from shelters might be at a higher risk. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.

  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD): This is an umbrella term for conditions affecting a cat's bladder and urethra. It can include urinary stones, bladder infections, and urinary tract blockages. Male cats can be especially susceptible to blockages, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

  • Heart Disease: While not as common as the aforementioned issues, some DSH cats can develop heart diseases like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscles thicken. Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect such conditions early.

  • Parasitic Infections: Cats that spend time outdoors or are in contact with other animals that may be susceptible to external parasites like fleas, ticks, and ear mites. They can also get internal parasites such as worms. Regular preventive treatments and check-ups can help keep these pests at bay.

  • Genetic Conditions: While the genetic diversity of DSH cats reduces the risk of inherited diseases prevalent in some purebred cats, they're not entirely exempt. Some might still be carriers or exhibit conditions like polycystic kidney disease or hip dysplasia, though these are less common.

  • Cancers: While not as prevalent as in some other pets, cats, including DSH, can develop cancers. Regular check-ups can aid in early detection, increasing the chances of successful treatments.

Ideal Owners of a Domestic Shorthair Cat

First-time Cat Owners: Due to their adaptability, DSH cats can be an excellent choice for first-time cat owners. They're typically easy-going and require less specialized care than some purebreds.

Families: Domestic shorthairs generally get along well with children, making them suitable for families. However, it's essential to teach children how to handle and respect pets.

Multi-pet Households: Many DSH cats coexist peacefully with other pets, including cats and dogs. It helps if introductions are done gradually and under supervision.

Active Individuals or Homebodies: Whether you're someone who's always on the move or prefers cozying up at home, a DSH can fit right in. They can be playful and interactive but also appreciate downtime.

Elderly Owners: Their calm demeanor and minimal grooming needs can make them suitable companions for seniors. They offer companionship without being overly demanding.

Domestic Shorthair Cats Facts

  • Contrary to the perception that domestic shorthair cats are purely American, they can be found all over the world.

  • The genetic diversity of domestic shorthair cats makes them less prone to genetic health issues than some purebred cats.

  • The world's richest cat, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was a domestic shorthair named Blackie, who inherited 12.5 million pounds in the 1980s.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Domestic shorthair cats good pets?

Yes, Domestic shorthair cats are excellent pets due to their adaptable nature, friendly demeanor, and low-maintenance care requirements.

What is the personality of a Domestic shorthair cat?

Domestic shorthair cats typically have a balanced and easy-going personality, often being playful, affectionate, and sociable, although individual temperaments can vary.

Can domestic shorthairs be indoor cats?

Yes, Domestic shorthairs can thrive as indoor cats, especially if provided with toys, climbing structures, and opportunities for interactive play.

Can Domestic shorthair cats be left alone?

While Domestic shorthair cats are relatively independent, prolonged periods alone can lead to loneliness and boredom; it's best not to leave them alone for extended periods without stimulation or companionship.

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