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Domestic Shorthair

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Domestic Shorthair

Domestic Shorthair Breed Highlights

Domestic shorthair cat sitting on a blanket and looking at the camera

  • Kittens and cats of unknown lineage are commonly referred to as Domestic cats or Mixed Breed, further refined into categories based on length of fur: Domestic Shorthairs, Domestic Medium Hairs, and Domestic Longhairs.

  • Just because a Domestic cat doesn’t have an official pedigree doesn’t mean you can’t show them! The International Cat Association (TICA) allows cat owners to show their non-pedigreed cat, with judging based on condition, beauty, and “show presence.” The World Cat Federation and the International Feline Federation allow housecats to compete in shows as well.

  • Domestic cats are the most popular cat in the United States and are a good choice for new cat owners. However, Domestic Medium Hairs are less common than the Domestic Shorthair and Domestic Longhair type cats.

Color Patterns of the Domestic Shorthair

Domestic shorthair cat illustration for Trupanion Cat Breed Guide 

Domestic Shorthairs have unknown mixed origins. As such, they can be found in any color, color combination, or pattern that is seen in other cat breeds, from tabby to tuxedo to tortoiseshell and beyond!

Most often, their coloring and look trend toward the most common coloring and body style of other pedigreed cats in their geographical area. For example, Domestic cats in Asia quite often have Siamese coloring, while Domestics in the United States and the United Kingdom have a larger, sturdier body like the popular Shorthairs.

Unique Personality

Domestic shorthair cat illustration for Trupanion Cat Breed Guide 

Domestic Shorthair cats vary in temperament and personality, depending on their genetics and learning experiences. You’ll find all “types” of these mixed breeds, which means there’s some kitty for everyone! In fact, they’re often the first cat for many owners, due to their prevalence in shelters and rescues. When choosing a Domestic kitten or adult cat, make sure to look for a companion that fits in with your lifestyle.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

Cat energy level graphic - all levels

Domestic Shorthairs have varied lifestyle preferences. Some are content to lounge around with their human guardians with occasional short play sessions, some are independent and self-entertaining, and others are highly active, intelligent, and require constant physical and mental stimulation. If you have a particular lifestyle you’d like to share with your furry friend, consider adopting an adult cat. Since they’ve already grown into their personalities, you can get a better sense of the lifestyle they’ll need. Kittens (as a general guideline) tend to be active and playful but may mellow out or maintain their energy level as they get older. You never know what you’re going to end up with when you bring home a kitten! That’s part of the fun.

Average Lifespan

15 to 17 years

Average Size

10 to 22 pounds

History of the Domestic Shorthair

Domestic shorthair cat laying with his paws folded

Domestic Shorthair cats can be found all over the world, as they are simply cats of a long and mixed heritage, with short fur. Throughout history, they’ve acted as workers and companions to their families. Arriving in America aboard the ships of the early settlers, including the Mayflower, these cats played an important role in the new world. They may have started out keeping rodents at bay for pioneers and shopkeepers but soon became a popular family pet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s report in 2018, 25% of American households include a cat. The Domestic Shorthair will no doubt continue to play a big role in cat culture.

Plays Well with Others?

Depending on your cat’s personality, they may get along well (or not) with other kittens, adult cats, household pets, and people. It’s always best to introduce your cat to a potential new friend slowly, giving them a choice whether or not to interact, and providing positive reinforcement for positive interactions. Particular care should be taken when introducing cats to each other, as most cats require time to get to know a new feline companion. Introductions that are rushed can result in fighting or injuries, undesirable behaviors (such as house-soiling), and stress for both humans and animals.

Graphic - multi-color feather toy for cats

Exercise Requirements

The Domestic Shorthair needs enough exercise to stay healthy and trim, as well as preventing unwanted behavior problems. Provide them with sufficient playtime, areas to climb, and encourage them to follow you around the house (or leash train them for outside walks) to get their steps in every day.

Mental Enrichment Needs

All cats require mental enrichment to keep their minds sharp and active. Boredom can cause stress, which results in behavior issues. To keep your kitten or adult cat from getting bored, make sure you provide them with plenty of toys, rotated regularly, to keep them novel and exciting; plenty of perching places to climb and explore; cozy nooks in which to take naps; windows from which to watch wildlife; play (using an interactive wand toy) providing an outlet for their instinctive predatory behaviors; and puzzle-solving opportunities (such as food puzzles). Depending on how inquisitive, motivated, and intelligent your cat is, you might also consider clicker-training tricks and commands.

Common Behavioral Issues

While many Domestic Shorthair cats don’t exhibit behavior issues, they can crop up if cat guardians aren’t meeting the needs of their cat. Most common are house-soiling (especially if appropriate litter box setups are not provided and maintained); inter-cat aggression (if a slow-introduction process is not followed); and destructive behavior such as scratching furniture, knocking over objects, and counter-surfing (particularly if ways to alleviate boredom are not provided). The potential for encountering these problems can be minimized or avoided by making sure your cats’ needs are being met. This means an appropriately clean place for elimination, territorial security, mental and physical exercise, and social interaction. Cats are also known to exhibit behavioral issues or changes if they’re experiencing pain, discomfort, or medical problems. So it’s important to manage your kitty’s health with regular visits to the veterinarian.


Never leave your cat alone near an open window that doesn't have a secure screen. If it's on the first floor, your cat can get out of the house and get injured, lost or any of the other possible problems that outdoor cats face on a daily basis. If the window is on the second floor or above your cat is at risk of suffering from severe injuries of "high-rise syndrome," and you don't even need to live in a true high-rise building. The injuries of "high-rise syndrome" tend to be worst in falls from between the 2nd and 7th floors!

Fun Activities the Domestic Shorthair Enjoys

Domestic shorthair cat illustration for Trupanion Cat Breed Guide 

Domestic Shorthairs have a wide variety of preferences when it comes to fun activities. If your cat shows signs of fear, stress, or anxiety, discontinue the activity; start small, and encourage the exploration of new objects and activities using positive reinforcement (treats, petting, praise, play, etc. - anything your cat enjoys). Have fun together while you try new things!

  • Food puzzles of all difficulty levels. Start easy, and with a high-value treat. When your kitten gets the hang of things, increase the difficulty level, and perhaps mix other food in with the treats. Many cats are even fed their meals using food puzzles and puzzle feeders!

  • Play sessions using an interactive wand toy are a MUST to keep your cat physically and mentally healthy. Use a long wand with interchangeable lures that resemble natural prey items - birds, rodents, snakes/lizards, and bugs. Some cats have preferences for certain types of prey, so don’t be afraid to switch lures to keep things exciting.

  • Self-play toys such as small mice or balls that can be batted around. Even crumpled up pieces of paper and aluminum foil balls can be fun! But make sure you keep a close eye on playtime, so toys don’t turn into snacks. Some cats (especially young kittens) will chew and can ingest things they shouldn’t. And don’t forget to rotate toys regularly to ensure that your cats don’t get bored.

  • Vertical space: provide plenty of places for your cats to explore - cat trees, perches, and shelves. Keep kitty safe by securing these landing and launching pads to avoid falling and crushing injuries.

  • Clicker-training can be a fun activity for smart cats. Try trick-training (commands like sit, roll-over, stationing, high-fives, etc.) or even building agility courses for cats to run through.

  • If your cat enjoys the outdoors, give them a way to safely get out of the home by taking walks in a pet-stroller, teaching them to take walks with you wearing a harness/leash, or even building an enclosed catio.

  • Cat TV - Play videos of wildlife made specifically for cats that feature birds, squirrels, and other animals. Better yet, place bird and squirrel feeders outside of a window from which your cat can enjoy a live show.

  • Heated cat beds will be appreciated in colder months, particularly for older cats (or any aged cat that has arthritis).

  • Make sure to provide cozy escapes - boxes, bags (with handles removed), and cubbies can give cats privacy during nap times, or just a refuge from the dog or small child in the family.

  • Let your cats explore the packing paper that comes in delivered boxes - just throw a length of the crumply paper on the ground and cats will pounce, dive, and hide in it. You can also add catnip to get the party started!

Coat Type

Thick, double coat of fur shorter than 1 inch long

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 3 of 5 piles of fur

3 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Weekly Brushing
  • Daily Maintenance
  • Seasonal

All Domestic cats need regular maintenance to keep their coats healthy. Shorthairs need weekly brushing (more during seasonal shedding periods). This helps prevent matting and furballs. While most are quite capable of keeping themselves clean, sometimes a bath is in order. Like all cats, the Domestic Shorthair requires regular nail trimming and teeth brushing to stay happy and healthy.

Famous Owners of the Domestic Shorthair Cat

  • Ian Somerhalder (Actor)

  • Alison Brie (Actress)

  • Freddie Mercury (Singer)

  • Kirsten Dunst (Actress)

  • Crystal Dunn (Soccer Player)

  • James Franco (Actor)

  • Ernest Hemmingway (Author)

  • Eartha Kitt (Actress)

  • Valerie Bertinelli (Actress)

Famous Domestic Shorthair Cats

  • Monty who teaches animals and humans it’s ok to look different

  • Venus the beautiful “two-faced” chimera cat

  • Lil Bub

  • Sam the cat with eyebrows

  • Bob the street cat

Common Health Conditions for Cats

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for cats. Every cat is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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Here's what our
cat-loving members say about Trupanion

Trupanion member Rexford


Gwynn Oak, MD

Condition: Urinary obstruction

The Trupanion policy paid: $19,031.43

"When my cat, Rexford, became ill, it was a great relief knowing I had Trupanion. It allowed me to focus on Rex and get him the care and treatment he needed without worry. Rexford required multiple surgeries and extended hospitalizations; to know that we had the support of this wonderful company was such a comfort. I will never have a pet not covered by Trupanion."

- Juliana H.

Trupanion member Gator


Calgary, Alberta

Conditions: Ear infections, diarrhea, enteritis, allergic reaction to medication

The Trupanion policy paid: $4,672.13

"Gator struggled with a weak immune system, ear infections and chronic diarrhea. After months of medical intervention, she was healthy enough for her spay. At the beginning of the procedure she had an allergic reaction to the medication and her airway swelled. She had to receive emergency drugs and luckily she recovered! We cannot thank Trupanion enough for being with us. I will always have Trupanion for my cats."

- Heather M.

Trupanion member Mason


Peyton, CO

Conditions: Giardia, Pancreatitis, infection, lymphoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $17,057.92

"Mason got what seemed to be a UTI but ended up being an intestinal disease. He has also been treated for giardia, trichomonas, irritable bowel disease, pancreatitis and a UTI. Throughout this entire ordeal, Trupanion stood by us all the way. Trupanion continues to pay for Mason’s care and when I call, I get such personal service! I even got a handwritten card from the staff, expressing their thoughts for Mason!"

- Carrie B.

Here's what our cat-loving members say about Trupanion

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The information in the Trupanion Breed Guide is robust and always expanding. You can learn more about this breed by exploring this list of all the resources used in its creation:
The Original CatFancy Cat Bible, by Sandy Robins. i-t Publishing, LLC, Irvine, CA. 2014, 544 pp.
Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds, 2nd Edition, by J. Anne Helgren. Barron's Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, NY. 2013, 384 pp.
The Complete Cat Breed Book, Kim Dennis-Bryan, editor. Korling Kindersley, New York, NY. 2013, 256 pp.
Cool Cats: the 100 Cat Breeds of the World, by Desmond Morris. Ebury Press, London. 1999, 256 pp.
Beyond Squeaky Toys, by Nicole Nicassio-Hiskey & Cinthia Alia Mitchell. Smart Pets Press, LLC, Lafayette, OR. 2013, 160 pp.
Brain Games for Cats, by Claire Arrowsmith. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY. 2016, 96 pp.
Getting Started: Clicker Training for Cats, by Karen Pryor. Karen Prior Clickertraining, Waltham, MA. 2001, 81 pp.