The European Shorthair might be a rarity in some parts of the world, but in Europe, it’s considered one of the most popular breeds of cat. Loved for their playful temperaments and affectionate natures, they make great family pets… although you might want to think twice about bringing one home if you own any rodents. These intrepid hunters love to stalk just about anything that moves – highly entertaining for them, perhaps, slightly less so for the family gerbil. What else do you need to know about this curious little cat? Find out as we uncover 20 things you didn’t know about the European Shorthair.
1. They date back to Roman times
The European Shorthair is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated cat in the world. Their history can be traced back to Roman times, while their subsequent spread across Europe can be attributed to their Roman owners being too fond of their little pets to leave them at home when they began their invasion of Europe. Revered for their hunting skills, they soon found a place for themselves on farms across the continent as cultures began to adopt a more agrarian lifestyle.
2. They’re the national cat of Finland
Ancient Rome may have boasted the first European Shorthairs, but it was in Sweden that the cat developed the traits and breed characteristics that we know and love today. They quickly spread throughout the rest of Scandinavia, becoming so popular in Finland that they were eventually adopted as the country’s national cat.
3. They have remarkable eyes
If there’s one thing, in particular, that’s kept us entranced by the European Shorthair for so many years, it’s their remarkable eyes. As cfa.org notes, a cat’s eyes are typically orange, copper, yellow, hazel, green, blue-green, or blue. The pupil is always black, and while eye color can be linked and influenced by the color of the cat’s coat, it’s not always the case. In the case of the European Shorthair, their eyes are particularly spectacular: expect a deep, amber yellow as standard, with the occasional flashes of blue thrown in for good measure.
4. They adapt easily
Some cats hate change. Adopt even the tiniest little change in your house or your routine, and you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll make their displeasure known in no uncertain terms. But the European Shorthair isn’t like other cats. As hillspet.com notes, one of the things that make the breed so popular is how easily they adapt to new environments, and how well they cope with a range of different living situations. Whether your house is full of children, seniors, other pets, or all three, they’ll quickly adapt and make themselves comfortable.
5. They love to play
Some cats love to sleep. Trying to get them to do anything but yawn is likely to result in a lot of pain (for you, not them). While European Shorthairs do like a nice nap, they’re also peculiarly playful, loving a good game of hide and seek almost as much as they love getting 20 winks. Although this can be as much fun for you as it is for them, it also comes with a challenge. Leave them without enough sources of entertainment, and they’ll likely become bored and badly behaved. It’s down to you, then, to make sure they have plenty of games and puzzles to keep their minds and bodies active throughout the day.
6. They’re low maintenance
Like most cats, European Shorthairs don’t need to be told twice to groom themselves. While that doesn’t mean you can leave all the work to them, it does mean they’re fabulously low maintenance. In terms of brushing, a quick once-over with a comb every week should be more than enough to keep their coats looking in tip-top shape. If they can stand to be bathed, a monthly bath with a gentle cat shampoo might also come in handy, although as some cats take as kindly to being bathed as they take to being poked awake, don’t worry too much if you have to skip this step.
7. They can be timid around strangers
Although they’re noted for their gentle, people-pleasing natures, some European Shorthairs can be timid, especially around strangers. Having a safe space they can retreat to when they feel a little overwhelmed is crucial for shy cats, while early socialization can work wonders at nipping the problem in the bud.
8. They love to rule the roost
As petguide.com notes, as much as European Shorthairs are known for their lovable, easy-going personalities, they can also be territorial. Given half a chance, their dominant streak will see them taking over the entire household, making it hard for other pets to live companionably by their side. That said, every cat is different, and with the proper training and plenty of early socialization, most European Shorthairs can be taught to get on with other animals well enough.
9. They can weigh up to 15 lbs
European Shorthairs can vary significantly when it comes to physical traits, but most will be of medium build with muscular, stocky bodies that tip the scales at 12 lbs for females and 15 pounds for males.
10. They have a short, dense coat
If you yearn for a cat with the kind of coat you can sink your fingers into, get a Maine Coon. Or a Persian. Or a Ragdoll. In fact, anything other than a European Shorthair. This is a breed that’s characterized by a short, dense coat that, while low maintenance, isn’t exactly going to win prices for style. Other notable characteristics include a short tail, round, tapered ear tips, and a round face.
11. They come in a variety of colors
There’s no such thing as a standard European Shorthair. These little creatures come with coats that cover the full spectrum of the rainbow, with some of the most common shades being black, red, blue, smoke, silver, and cream. Patterns can vary just as much (and even sometimes more), and it’s common for kittens from the same litter to have a completely different set of markings to their siblings.
12. They’ve got a lot in common with the Domestic Shorthair
If there’s one type of cat the European Shorthair has the most in common with, it’s the Domestic Shorthair. Like the European Shorthair, the Domestic Shorthair has a big ancestral pool to draw on, resulting in a huge amount of variance in color, pattern, and temperament. Other similarities include a muscular, stocky body (most Domestic Shorthairs grow to around 8-10 inches and tip the scales at 6- 16 lbs), a short, dense coat, a playful, family-orientated personality, and an insanely strong hunting drive.
13. They’re remarkably healthy
There’s something to be said for having a mixed ancestry. Unlike certain pedigrees whose silky coats, pug-nosed faces, and winning smiles hide a host of health problems, the European Shorthair is a remarkably robust little cat with few, if any, inherited health concerns. But that’s not to say you can neglect or take their health for granted. Like all cats, they should receive the full- set of vaccinations before they leave their first home, while regular check-ups, deworming treatments, and flea control should be considered par for the course. Also be mindful that cats can be very secretive about their health, and are more likely to conceal their pain than put it on display. Stay watchful, and whisk them to the vets at the first sign of distress.
14. They have lots of energy
The European Shorthair has energy for days, and needs plenty of space to run around and explore. A cat tree will go down exceptionally well, while interactive toys and games (especially of the kind that taps into their hunting instincts) will go a long way to keeping them happy.
15. They’re less common outside of Europe
The European Shorthair was developed in Europe. Unlike other breeds who’ve managed to cross the border and achieve global popularity, they’re still a relatively rare commodity in other areas of the world. In the US in particular, they can be exceptionally hard to track down; outside of a select few breeders, you’ll be hard pushed to find many people offering European Shorthair kittens for sale. Occasionally, however, they do pop up in rescue centers and cat shelters; if you’re desperate for a European Shorthair of your own, it’s worth putting feelers out to local centers and asking them to contact you should they ever find one that needs a new home.
16. They used to be known as the Celtic Shorthair
As Wiki notes, the name ‘European Shorthair’ was for a long time considered a fancy way of referring to any of the common domestic cats of Europe. This, understandably, led to some confusion, with cats of very different breeds all getting lumped together under the same category. Case in point, the Celtic Shorthair, a breed that for a long time was thought to be no different (and in fact, exactly the same) as the European Shorthair. As it turns out, they’re two quite different specimens with some very distinct characteristics. Eventually, the WCF caught on to the fact that not all short-haired, muscular cats are the same, and now only register true Europeans under the breed name.
17. They can live for up to 20 years
If you welcome a European Shorthair into your home, be prepared for it stick around for the long haul. With no know genetic conditions and a remarkably robust, healthy disposition, the breed is as long-lived as cats come. Provided they receive proper nutrition, have any health problems nipped in the bud, and aren’t allowed to wander freely around the streets (like all cats, indoor European Shorthairs live longer than ones that are allowed outside), you can expect to live side-by-side with your puss for around 20 years (or 15 if you plan on giving them the freedom of the great outdoors).
18. They love to hunt
When European Shorthairs first began to take a foothold in Europe, it was for their hunting skills that they were most revered. In the Middle Ages, farming began to take off in a big way. While this helped feed the ever-growing population, it came with a problem: rats. With their precious food stores to protect, farmers needed to find a way to keep the rodents at bay. And what better way to do this than with a cat… or, more specifically, with a European Shorthair, a breed for whom hunting came as naturally as breathing. Despite the passing of the years, the breed has managed to cling onto its hunting instinct – as anyone who’s seen one chase after a feather will tell you. Regardless of how well-fed and pampered you keep them, make no mistake – if they see something small, tailed, and tasty-looking scuttling along the floor, they’ll be after it quicker than you can blink an eye. Great if you’re prone to the occasional mousey visitor, less great for the family hamster…
19. They have voracious appetites
Some cats are picky eaters, as inclined to turn their nose up at the tastiest of morsels as they are to actually eat it. European Shorthairs are cut from a different cloth. These are born-hunters, and as with all animals that are used to working for their lunch, they’re not inclined to walk away from a free one. Which is all well and good in a lot of ways, but unfortunately, it does make them slightly more prone to weight gain and obesity than other cats. As energy requirements vary according to size, health, age, and activity levels, always speak to your vet if you have any concerns about how much (and what kind of) food you should be treating them to.
20. They’ve been recognized by the FIFe
The European Shorthair is no average moggy. It’s a distinguished breed with a long heritage: little wonder, then, that’s it’s managed to achieve official recognition with the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe).