Shorthaired Cats (Cat Breeds)

In both wild and domestic cats, short hair is much more common than long. The main reason for this is that the genes for short hair are dominant over the ones for long hair. Also, in the wild, whether as a leopard or a feral inner-city tom, long hair can tangle on things when stalking and ambushing, give enemies something to grab hold of, and without an attentive owner to do the grooming, become matted and likely to cause skin diseases. These are important disadvantages that natural evolution came to terms with.

Shorthaired coats, on the other hand, don’t get in the way and are simple to care for – wounds can be easily tended and parasites don’t find it such a good environment in which to make a home. Twice weekly grooming is sufficient and many shorthaired cats can very adequately look after their coats themselves.

Shorthaired cats fall into three main categories: the British Shorthair, the American Shorthair, and Foreign or Oriental Shorthair.

The British Shorthair is a sturdy cat with a strong, muscular body on short legs, and which sports a short, dense coat. It has a broad, rounded head, with a shirt, straight nose, and large, round eyes. European Shorthair breeds are identical.

American Shorthairs developed from ancestors of the British and European Shorthairs, which were taken to the US by the early settlers. It is a different strain of cat, larger and leaner than the British type, and with slightly longer legs, a more oblong head with a square muzzle, a medium-length nose, and large, round eyes.

Foreign or Oriental Shorthairs have a conformation quite different to the rounded, sturdy British and American Shorthairs. This type of cat has a wedge-shaped head with slanting eyes and large, pointed ears, a lithe, slim body with long legs, and a very fine, short coat. This category embraces the most well-known example, the Siamese, as well as the Korat and the Havana. In some countries, including the US, these cats are known simply as Oriental Shorthairs, or as Oriental in type, whereas in others, notably Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, particular color and coat patterns are designated as being either Foreign or Oriental.

Picture: British Blue Shorthair

British Blue Shorthair
Probably the most popular of the British Shorthairs, the Blue has the typical round face, sturdy build, and muscular body set on short legs. The fur is particularly plush, even for its type.

Picture: A red tabby Manx

A tail-less breed, the Manx has a body conformation similar to a British Shorthair, except that its hind legs are longer than its forelegs.

Picture: Oriental Shorthair

Oriental Shorthair
The term “Oriental” does not necessarily indicate an exotic origin (although some of these cats do indeed come from Far East), instead it refers to a variety of breeds that have the same lithe, slim body, slanted eyes, large, pointed ears, and fine, short fur.

Picture: Abyssinian

More rugged and not as fine boned as a typical Foreign Shorthair, the Abyssinian still share some of the same features. Where it differs markedly is in the texture and patterning of the coat, which is very thick and distinctively ticked.

Picture: Exotic Shorthair

Exotic Shorthair
The Exotic is perhaps the best example of a cat that has crossed the Longhair/Shorthair divide: it has the cobby build and features of a Longhair, but the plush coat of an American Shorthair.