The term “domestic shorthair” covers a multitude of different cats. It’s an umbrella term covering all cats that have short hair but don’t belong to a specific breed. This can include everything from moggies of no known heritage to mixed-breed cats who have a known breed or two in their ancestry. A domestic shorthair could have the traits of any shorthair breed, from the stolid British Shorthair to the lively Siamese. It’s a bit of a gamble what kind of personality any given domestic shorthair might have. On the whole, the key to an affectionate cat is proper socialisation and care when they’re young.
On the whole, they’re likely to be quite friendly and affectionate. Much depends on the cat’s history and the level of socialisation he or she received during those important formative months. You can encourage a more affectionate nature through proper care.
You’ve landed on this page because you’re curious about domestic shorthairs, and you have questions about them as pets. What is a domestic shorthair cat? Are domestic shorthair cats affectionate? How can I ensure a good relationship with my domestic shorthair? What makes cats become asocial or antisocial? Why does my cat dislike some people? What can I do to help my domestic shorthair become more sociable? In this article, I’ll talk about feline psychology and the factors that can affect a cat’s level of affection. Keep on reading — the answers to all your questions are here.
Are Domestic Shorthair Cats Affectionate?
On the whole, yes. Most domestic shorthair cats are quite friendly and will connect with their caregivers. Because the term “domestic shorthair” covers such a wide range of individuals, with all kinds of breeds in the mix and all manner of personal histories, it can be difficult to predict exactly what kind of character any one cat might have.
Even within a specific breed, you get a lot of individual variation when it comes to personality. With a non-pedigree cat, the situation becomes even more complex. If you’re especially concerned over the personality of your new cat, consider getting a pedigree animal from a breed with a friendly reputation. The British Shorthair, American Shorthair or the Tonkinese are good examples.
The key to getting an affectionate cat, really, is proper care. A cat who is healthy, well-adjusted and who feels secure will naturally be fairly amiable. Despite their reputation for aloofness, cats are social animals. Feral cats naturally form colonies, with a loose matriarchal structure and a generally co-operative framework.
Cats are not truly solitary animals. When you take one into your household, you are now part of their colony. As long as they feel safe and as if they can trust you, they’ll tend to treat you like any other colony-mate.
To establish a friendly and affectionate demeanour, it’s important that kittens are properly socialised. If you’re buying rather than adopting a rescue, you need to ensure that you get your kitten from a reputable cattery if possible. If you’re adopting the neighbour’s unwanted kitten, things may be a little more tricky.
Ideally, kittens should stay with their mother until they’re at least 12 weeks old. 16 weeks is better. I hate to see kittens taken from the mother before 12 weeks, as they are likely to be less healthy and secure. The extra time with Mum allows kittens to develop their curiosity and social instincts in a safe, stable environment. Kittens learn a lot from older cats; it can be hard for you, as a human, to convey the same lessons.
While they’re still with their mother, the kittens should be handled and played with from time to time. This will get them used to human companionship and help them to develop trust and confidence.
Kittens should be de-sexed as early as possible. I cannot stress this enough. It’s crucial for the cat’s developing personality, as the hormones raging through an “entire” cat can cause all sorts of behavioural hiccups. Perhaps even more importantly, leaving a kitten intact has health implications later in life. Male cats and female cats alike can develop health issues related to being kept “entire”, although females are perhaps the most at risk. Unwanted early pregnancies are very bad for female cats. Every heat that the cat enters will raise her risk of certain cancers.
Introducing The Domestic Shorthair Kitten
Let’s assume that everything has gone well, and you’re bringing home a healthy, well-adjusted 12 to 16-week-old kitten. The first step is to make sure that your kitten feels safe and secure in her new home. At first, you should keep your kitten in one room.
A bathroom is often a good place for this safe spot. It should be somewhere that the kitten won’t be disturbed too often, and which can be isolated from any other animals. The room should be warm and comfortable, with a bed, blanket or other item that the kitten is familiar with. Let the kitten out of the carrier and allow her to explore her new surroundings.
Provide food, including a nice treat or two. Make sure the kitten has access to a litter-box (she should be litter-trained at this point). Be very gentle and cautious initially. Let the kitten come to you rather than simply grabbing her and insisting she be cuddled and petted. Some kittens are immediately interested and will want to be given pets, while others may be a bit more reserved at first.
After a day or two your kitten should be more settled. At this point, it’s fine to allow her to start exploring the rest of the house. Make sure the rest of the household understands that a new kitten needs to be treated very carefully. If you have other pets, hold off on letting the kitten meet them for another couple of days. Other animals should be introduced slowly, with a barrier between them initially. I like to perform the initial introduction when everyone’s eating, as this sets up a positive association.
Do not — and this is important — try to introduce your kitten to rabbits, birds, rats, mice or other animals that might register as “prey”. With very rare exceptions, there is no way to convince your kitten that these are friends and not food. Keep them away from each other so that nobody ends up as lunch.
Introducing The Older Domestic Shorthair
There are pros and cons to adopting a mature cat. On the one hand, you won’t be able to influence the cat’s development in the same way as you would a kitten’s. On the other hand, mature cats are easier to care for on the whole. They’re generally more settled and less prone to mischief.
Introduce your new cat in a similar way to a kitten. More confident cats may be eager to explore the home, but take it slowly at first. Novel stimuli can upset a cat, possibly leading to anxiety and other problems. Give your cat lots of support and encouragement, offering treats and ensuring that their first encounters with other members of the household are positive. First impressions tend to last a long time with cats.
If for some reason the cat has not been spayed or neutered, you should have this done quickly. Even after the cat has gone through puberty, many behavioural issues will resolve once de-sexing is performed. Neutering a male can put a stop to things like spraying or displays of aggression. Females absolutely must be spayed. They can become very difficult to handle when they’re in heat, and there are the aforementioned health risks.
Rescued domestic shorthairs may suffer from trauma or attachment issues. You can help these cats by creating a secure, cat-friendly environment. Make sure the cat has safe places to hide and peek out from, such as cat habitats and high shelves to perch on. Don’t insist on holding or petting a skittish cat. Offer affection gently and carefully, allowing the cat to exit the situation if it all gets too much.
You can coax out very shy cats with treats and kind treatment. Be patient. Once you earn your cat’s trust, you’ll be their favourite person for a long, long time.