The domestic shorthair is very similar in appearance to the African Wildcat and archaeological studies have found it difficult to distinguish the two based on their skeletons alone. The domestic shorthair is slightly smaller on average than the African Wildcat, and varies also in coat colour and temperament.
The domestic shorthair is in general a fairly “average” type of cat. She does not display extremes in conformation and is a well proportioned cat. The coat is short, and can come in almost any colour or pattern imaginable. Eye colour can also be any colour, including odd-eyed. The domestic shorthair is usually of an “average” size, weighing 4 - 6 kg. Males are generally bigger than females.
Domestic shorthairs do vary somewhat in their appearance in different geographical areas. For instance, those from colder European areas tend to be somewhat stocky with a thicker coat, while those in hotter climates such as South East Asia tend to be slimmer and have thinner coats.
The domestic shorthair (DSH), also known as the “moggie”, is not a recognised breed of cat. All domestic cats are of the same species (Felis catus) and while many breeds have either developed largely on their own (e.g. in a certain geographic location) or have been developed by breeders, the domestic shorthair is a “wild-type” cat that is the product of natural breeding over thousands of years. The name domestic shorthair is usually applied to any domestic cat with an unknown ancestry.
The domestic cat has been around for thousands of years, and is now known to have descended from the Wildcat (or Felis silvestris). There are five subgroups of Wildcat, and recent DNA studies have shown that all domestic cats today descended from the Near Eastern Wildcat, also known as the African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). When people first started settling in established agricultural communities, these cats would have become useful by keeping rodents away from grain stores. In return, cats found an easy source of food, and over time gained shelter and warmth from farmers in return for their mousing and ratting skills. In this manner, over generations, the Wildcat became domesticated, and adapted gradually to suit her new environment, wherever that may have been.
Domestic cats can and do interbreed with Felis silvestris, and there are concerns that the true Wildcat will become extinct due to this crossbreeding in the near future. However, it is also suggested that the domestic cat is essentially part of the same species, and you may also see the domestic cat labelled as Felis silvestris catus, indicating that it is a subspecies of the Wildcat.
Just as the appearance of the domestic shorthair may vary widely, so too may her temperament. Almost all will be playful as kittens, however it can be very difficult to predict the temperament of an adult cat. She may be outgoing or reserved, vocal or quiet, playful or restrained. This does mean that amongst the domestic shorthairs, there is bound to be one that is just perfect for you!
Temperament is also greatly influenced by a kitten’s early socialisation and care. Spending lots of time with your kitten bonding will help her to be a more confident, settled individual as an adult.
The needs of the domestic shorthair are similar to those of all cats, in that they require a caring and protective environment and someone who is prepared to spend plenty of time with them. While they do not require much grooming, it is a good habit to get into from a young age, and as well as removing dead hairs grooming also helps to stimulate blood flow in the skin. A weekly comb is generally sufficient for the domestic shorthair, although more may be required for some during shedding season.
As there is so much variety to be found amongst the domestic shorthairs, there is one to suit almost any situation, whether it is a large family environment or a single person looking for a loving companion.