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Domestic longhair cat

The graceful and elegant domestic longhair cat has a blended history, with no single-breed origin. The end result of this breed’s mottled ancestry is a unique and exquisite furry feline who is one of America’s most popular cats.
Domestic Long-Hair Cat Kitten Breed

AT A GLANCE: The domestic longhair cat

  • Beautiful, playful, and elegant
  • Variable, average build
  • Long, flowing hair coat
  • Many colors and patterns, including white, black, smoke, tabby, and calico

Physical characteristics of the domestic longhair cat

Thanks to their wildly varied gene pool, domestic longhair cats don’t fit one bill. They typically weigh between 8 and 12 pounds and stand roughly 8 to 10 inches tall. Depending on their ancestry, one cat may be stout and muscular with a flattened muzzle, while another may exhibit long, lean lines with a pointed nose. Their variability makes domestic longhair cats extraordinarily unique.

One unmistakable attribute of the domestic longhair is their beautifully long, dense, and silky fur coat. Many cats will also have tufted ears—these breeds likely have a Maine coon cat, Norwegian forest cat, or an American bobtail cat relative. A slew of different color patterns is possible, including the more common colors of smoke, black, or white, and patterns such as orange tabby, tuxedo, or calico.

Personality and temperament of the domestic longhair cat

Just as their physical features wildly fluctuate, so does the domestic longhair’s temperament. While most cats will be relatively docile, playful, and affectionate, others can be exceptionally needy, and still others, standoffish. You never know what you’re going to get. Of course, if you raise your cat from kittenhood, lots of love and gentle handling may help yield a well-mannered, easygoing adult.

Common health concerns for the domestic longhair cat

The domestic longhair cat is no more prone to particular diseases than any other cat. However, some commonly seen health concerns are described below.

Diabetes mellitus

Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that regulates the body’s blood sugar levels. When the body fails to produce or becomes resistant to insulin, blood sugar levels rise and organs and tissues do not receive the energy they need, which can lead to a cascade of catastrophic events, including electrolyte abnormalities, dehydration, and ketoacidosis.

Obesity

Most domesticated cats, when given the opportunity, will overeat, and obesity has become one of the more commonly diagnosed problems in cats. Many cat owners find that food makes their feline friends happy. While this may be true in the short term, overfeeding and obesity can lead to other serious disorders such as diabetes mellitus, arthritis, respiratory problems, and gastrointestinal conditions. Refrain from overfeeding your cat by portioning out meals and cutting out high-calorie treats. Feed a high-quality food suited for your cat’s life stage. Ensure that a constant source of fresh water is available, and consider a water fountain to encourage drinking. Playing with your cat frequently will help burn calories and keep her fit and healthy.

Other health concerns include:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Fur matting and skin infections
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Urinary tract obstruction (more common in males)

Caring for the domestic longhair cat

The domestic longhair’s coat is not for the faint of heart. They are substantial shedders and require daily brushing sessions to minimize matting. If mats are found, avoid clipping them out, as you risk injuring the skin. Take your cat to a reputable groomer to have mats clipped and for regular bathing and grooming if you are unable to perform these tasks at home.

The general rule of thumb with litter boxes is to have one litter box per cat plus one additional box. Some aloof or finicky domestic longhair cats develop inappropriate urination or defecation behaviors if one litter box isn’t up to their standards, so err on the side of extra litter boxes in case the first or second one isn’t suitable for your furry friend. Ensure that all boxes are scooped daily and sanitized at least weekly.

Get to know your domestic longhair cat. If you are bringing home a kitten, study mannerisms and general demeanor. If adopting an older cat, find out as much about the cat’s history as you can. Since this breed is widely variable in appearance and temperament, knowing your cat will help it thrive. If you have an independent cat, provide a quiet space to call its own. If you have children and other pets at home, consider adopting a cat with a more social personality.

The domestic longhair is the perfect cat for you if:

  • You are willing and able to commit to daily grooming
  • You are a first-time or seasoned cat owner
  • You live in a small apartment or a large house
  • You are single or have a family with children
  • You understand some of the common health risks for domesticated cats
  • You are willing to enrich your cat’s environment with scratching posts, climbing towers, and more