The European Shorthair is widely considered to be the "first" house cat, as it is the direct descendant of the first wild cats to be domesticated thousands of years ago. What are the origins of this ancient breed, and are there differences between the European, British, and American Shorthairs? Keep reading to find out!
European Shorthair Cat History
"It is believed that cats owned by the Romans - utilized in vermin control and hunting - went on to breed with feral European cats, where those offspring became the foundation stock of the European Shorthair. It is likely these native cats were tabby, as the Shorthair has similar coat markings." according to VioVet.
Some believe European wild cats befriended Roman soldiers as they trekked throughout the empire. Others hold that the European Shorthair descended from the African wild cat brought back to Rome over 2,000 years ago.
Regardless of how the European Shorthair was introduced to Rome, this loyal, affectionate cat provided the soldiers with companionship, and his impressive hunting skills helped protect food stores from would-be thieves like birds, rodents, and other small mammals. The soldiers often took the cats home with them, which helped distribute them across Europe. They were especially welcome on farms for their hunting prowess
; not only could they help protect grain stores from other animals, but they could help cut down on the rodent population, which may have even helped slow the spread of some diseases carried by rats or the fleas that lived on them.
European Shorthair Cat Appearance
European Shorthair cats are generally medium-sized cats weighing between 7 and 12 pounds when fully grown
, though adult males can be even heavier. They have stocky, muscular bodies, rounded heads, and fairly short noses. As implied by the name,
they have short hair that can present in nearly any color possible in a cat, along with tabby and tortoiseshell patterns.
European Shorthair Cat Personality
Because most European Shorthairs are not pedigreed, there are no hard and fast rules about the breed's temperament. Each cat also has its own personality, even within the same litter. That said, European Shorthairs are generally smart, affectionate, and playful. They are a great mixture of energetic and calm, as they enjoy bouts of play as much as a long nap on a sunny windowsill. She might not tolerate being held for very long (or at all), but she's a faithful companion who will usually appreciate gentle petting.
Some things to keep in mind: like all cats, European Shorthairs are natural hunters, and that instinct remains strong. Be careful with small pets like mice, hamsters, fish, and even birds. Your European Shorthair has hunting in his blood, so he might not understand why you don't want him to attack that furry critter in the cage.
Again, though every cat is different, European Shorthairs can also be very territorial
, both regarding their human family and their home turf. If you plan to get another cat, be sure to introduce it slowly and under controlled circumstances until you can be sure your European Shorthair is going to agree to share his domain. Conversely, you might introduce your European Shorthair to another cat and find they immediately become inseparable friends; the breed is as varied in personality as it is in coat colors, so try to be ready for anything this little guy can throw at you.