Other names: European, Domestic shorthair cat
Distinguishing a European from a simple ‘moggy’ or alley cat is not an easy task. The latter can look like the former in every way. However, this breed is one of the oldest. Its origins go back to antiquity, more specifically to ‘Felis Silvestris Libyca’. Born in Egypt, these cats were adopted by the Greeks and Romans who spread them across Europe, so that today they are the most popular cat on the European continent. Formerly used to guard grain silos, they are now simply kept as pets.
Key facts about the European Shorthair
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Origins and history
The European Shorthair’s ancestor is the ‘Felis Silvestris Libyca’, of Egyptian origin. Adopted since antiquity by Greeks and Romans, it spread throughout Europe. They were first admired for their hunting skills, which enabled them to control rodent populations in grain silos. Next came a period of bad luck during the witch hunts, because of the superstitions of the time.
Since these cats are seen as very common and devoid of any particular characteristics, they have always been free to reproduce as they see fit (that is, for non sterilised individuals!). It wasn’t until recently, in 1983, that the breed became recognised, and it was only in 2007 that the breed was named the European.
Physical characteristics of the European Shorthair
Female : Between 10 and 12 in
Male : Between 12 and 14 in
In reality, there is no standard size, as individuals can differ hugely from one to the next. The differences between male and female European Shorthairs are also very prominent.
Female : Between 7 and 11 lb
Male : Between 9 and 15 lb
Black / seal, blue / slate grey, red, white.
Cinnamon, chocolate, fawn and lilac are the only colours not permitted.
Type of coat
Orange, golden yellow, green.
Blue or different-coloured eyes are only accepted for cats with a white or bi-coloured coat.
The European is simply defined as the cat breed that doesn’t look like any others. They just mustn’t have the same characteristic traits as other breeds, which leaves a lot of room for morphological differences between individuals.
They are of average size and famously robust, with short, dense fur. To be recognised by the GCCF (British Feline Association), the body must be rectangular in shape. Their heads are quite round, with prominent cheeks. Their eyes can be medium to large in size. The length of their ears is the same as their width at the base, with tips that are slightly rounded. Their tails are quite broad at the base, and tapers to the tip.
Good to know
The European is most popular in the countries of Northern Europe!
If you give them your time and attention, these teddy bears will be affectionate and even cuddly with their humans. If not, they will stay independent and keep their distance!
These felines are curious and even malicious. Given the chance, they can amuse themselves with all sorts of toys or objects they have found for their games. They will even beg their humans for daily play sessions.
Like all cats, Europeans can have their moments of madness when they run and jump all over the place. But they can also enjoy long siestas or come over just to lay down close to their humans. They are said to be very balanced.
They are renowned for being very intelligent, as they are curious and adapt easily, although they are reassured by routine.
Fearful / wary of strangers
As a rule, they have very good relationships with humans and grow very attached to their human and the place they live in.
These cats like to have a certain level of independence when they need it, and always appreciate having access to the outdoors to satisfy their hunting instinct.
Behaviour of the European Shorthair
As a general rule, European Shorthairs are good at making themselves understood without having to meow. They tend only to use meowing as a last resort if their human can’t decode their body language!
Need for exercise / Sporty
These cats are characterised by their vivacity and joie de vivre and they love exercise. If they have to live inside, their environment must be arranged to give them access to multiple levels and dimensions. At minimum, they should have a cat tree, ledges, and a view outside. If they are allowed outdoors, there’s no doubt they will occasionally live up to their hunter instinct!
Tendency to run away
Being so attached to their home, these cats are not likely to run away, but can sometimes stray several miles a day depending on the zones where they relax, hunt, etc. ...It can be impressive to see the sheer size of the area they roam!
Greedy / Gluttony
Once again, the differences between individuals are very big here. Some are very delicate, or even fussy, while others will certainly need to be rationed! In any case, the use of interactive feeding bowls is certainly in their best interests.
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European Shorthair and cats
If raised together, members of the same litter can prove to be very close to each other throughout their lives. On the other hand, if from separate litters, cohabitation between cats can be tricky, hence the need to use an introduction technique that respects the sensitivity of each individual.
European Shorthair and dogs
If introduced while still a kitten, or if the introduction of the two species is made thoughtfully and carefully, these cats should have no problems living with dogs.
European Shorthair and children
These cats are able to adapt to children and be very obliging, as long as the relationship is established with respect and the cat has the option of escaping if they need to!
European Shorthair and the elderly
These cats are truly suited to all the family and can easily adapt to more sedentary people.
They aren't enough data to establish an average price for a European Shorthair. But the cost for a GCCF-approved European Shorthair will vary according to lineage, breeding, age or even sex.
For your monthly budget, you should allow on average £25 per month to cater to this cat’s needs, by offering them a quality diet and ensuring they stay healthy.
A routine brush each week is enough for the European Shorthair.
During moult periods (one in spring and a short one in autumn), a daily brush will allow you to get rid of the undercoat that would otherwise be ingested by the cat as they groom themselves. This avoids a buildup of hairballs in their digestive tract, which can sometimes require veterinary intervention to unblock it.
Nutrition of the European Shorthair
These kitties are famously easy to please, but even so, the differences between individuals can still be significant. It’s best to closely observe your cat to get a feel for their preferences.
Health of the European Shorthair
The average life expectancy is estimated to be about a dozen years, although it’s fairly common to see cats that are 16 or 18, or in exceptional cases, even 20 years old.
Strong / robust
The European is known to whether well. As a general rule, they will withstand the cold better than too much heat!
Tendency to put on weight
Excess weight and obesity are unfortunately the most common condition affecting this breed. The factors leading to excess weight can be individual, environmental, or a combination of the two.
Where individual factors are concerned, the first to consider is the effects of sterilisation and of gender, with males sometimes being more susceptible to chubbiness than females. However, feeding behaviour is obviously just as important: there’s no denying the difference in body condition of a cat that nibbles and a cat that guzzles. Age is also a factor, and the cat will age much better if they are not overweight, as obesity increases the risk of developing other conditions that prevent a long life.
When it comes to the environment, lifestyle is important: any physical activity should be encouraged, both indoors and outdoors. The presence of other animals can also affect food intake. The quality of food is obviously paramount, as is the behaviour of the person feeding the cat.
For all of these reasons, the use of interactive bowls is highly recommended.
European Shorthairs generally have sturdy health. They have no predisposition to particular conditions (apart from the weight gain mentioned above), though they are still susceptible to the same illnesses as all other cats. They have a certain vulnerability to periodontal disease (gingivitis and tartar). Prevention and dental care are recommended. If they have outside access, it’s best to vaccinate them against infectious diseases such as coryza, acute leukaemia, rabies and typhus, according to veterinary advice.
Contrary to most breeds, whose reproduction has been controlled to select certain morphological, aesthetic or behavioural traits, Europeans have not undergone this process. The breed is of natural origin, which distinguishes them from the vast majority of other breeds.
Pairings with other breeds are not authorised because the specificity of the European is that it must not resemble any other breeds.