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European Shorthair Cat Breed Info: Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

European Shorthair

European Shorthair Cat Breed Info: Pictures, Temperament & Traits

In Europe, the European Shorthair cat is widely considered to be the most popular breed of housecat. They have lively personalities brimming with intelligence and live for up to 20 years. These cats are thick and muscular, helping them achieve a high degree of athleticism, though they do tend to have soft bellies with a pooch.

This is a varied breed, and you can find European Shorthairs in a wide range of colors and patterns. They’re medium-sized cats that generally weigh no more than 15 pounds. They’ll perform most of their own maintenance, though you’ll still need to do a little to keep them in top shape.

Breed Overview


12-14 inches


8-15 pounds


15-20 years


Brown, grey, tan, black, red, smoke, silver, cream, tabby, tortoise

Suitable for:

Families and individuals who are home to provide interaction and stimulation


Adaptable, affectionate, playful, intelligent, predatory, shy, territorial

Overall, European Shorthairs are loving and affectionate cats, but only with their families. They can bond with several family members and they will want a lot of your attention. They’re not often demanding about it, but they’ll want lots of your time and affection, nonetheless.

With family, these are playful animals that want to tear up a mouse toy or chase a laser pointer. But when it comes to strangers, they can often be shy and reserved. Regarding other pets, they tend to be quite territorial, so they’re not always a good fit for multi-pet households.

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European Shorthair Characteristics

A high-energy cat needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep healthy and happy, while a low-energy cat needs minimal physical activity, but still needs mental stimulation. When choosing a cat, It’s important to ensure their energy levels match your lifestyle.
Cats that are easy-to-train are more willing and skilled at quickly learning prompts and actions with minimal training. Harder-to-train cats are usually more stubborn or aloof and require a bit more patience and practice.
Certain cat breeds are more prone to various genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat in those breeds will have these issues, but they do have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Due to their size or potential genetic health issues of a specific breed, some cats have shorter lifespans than others. Proper nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, and hygiene also play an important role in your cat’s lifespan and quality of life.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other cats and animals. Cats that are more social have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches or jump on laps for cuddles, while cats that are less social shy away, hide, are more cautious, and even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed or gender, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to many different situations.

European Shorthair Kittens

If you’re thinking about adding a European Shorthair to your family, you should know that these cats are still very rare in North America. They are more common in Europe since that’s where the breed originated. That being said, it can be hard to locate a breeder for European Shorthairs, and you may have to travel a long way to acquire one of these cats.

Even so, it is very important to seek out a reputable breeder that can provide health clearances for their cats. Although European Shorthairs don’t suffer from too many health problems, buying through a reputable breeder is the best way to ensure that the cat is at its healthiest and that the cat was raised under the proper living conditions.

A good breeder should be able to answer any questions about the European Shorthair breed as a whole and the cats in their care. They should have no problem with you visiting in person to meet the kittens and their parents. Once you find a breeder, expect to have to put down a deposit and potentially be placed on a waiting list.

3 cat face divider3 Little-Known Facts About European Shorthair Cat

1. They can be traced back to Ancient Rome.

It’s not uncommon to be able to trace the lineage of modern cat breeds back to their ancient roots. For the European Shorthair, those roots stretch back to ancient Rome. In fact, the Romans are responsible for the spreading of this breed across Europe, resulting in their high popularity and availability today.

When Roman invaders traveled across Europe to expand their empire, many early European Shorthairs traveled with them. They were highly desired for their impressive hunting abilities, which kept rodents and pests at bay. During those times, rats and other rodents could easily decimate food supplies, but the accompanying cats could put a stop to this threat.

As the Romans made their way through Europe with their Shorthair companions in tow, these cats started making their way onto farms across the continent. They were popular among farm owners for the same reason they were popular with the Roman legions. These cats are adept hunters that were able to keep exploding rodent populations from destroying the farmers’ crops.

2. They’re the national cat of Finland.

The European Shorthair continued to spread throughout Europe, continually growing in popularity. Eventually, they made an appearance in Sweden, already bred into a lovable cat with many desirable traits. It appears that everywhere this breed showed up, they grew in popularity, thanks to their playful, active natures and incredible hunting abilities.

Even today, these cats are widely regarded as one of the most popular breeds in all of Europe. In Finland, they’re even the national cat, showing just how beloved this breed really is.

3. They weren’t recognized as a separate shorthair breed until 1982.

Even though this breed has been around for centuries, there was a lot of confusion surrounding the breed for quite some time. Most of this was due to the similarity in the names of several close breeds, like the British Shorthair and Celtic Shorthair.

For many years, these names were often used interchangeably, despite the fact that these are completely separate breeds.

Thankfully, many breeders wanted to maintain the differences in these breeds, and the European Shorthair in particular. But it wasn’t until 1982 that this breed received true recognition as its own breed, separate from other similar Shorthairs. They were recognized by the Federation Internationale Feline, or FIFe, and a set of breed standards was developed.

Domestic european shorthair cat
Image Credit: guvo59, Pexels

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Temperament & Intelligence of the European Shorthair Cat

One of the best traits about the European Shorthair and part of the reason for their immense popularity is their ability to adapt to just about any situation. This makes the breed extremely versatile, allowing them to fit well with individuals, families, farmers, and more.

In truth, European Shorthairs can span a wide range of temperaments and personalities. Some of them are quite shy and don’t show much love or trust for strangers and can even take a while to warm up to their families. Others are playful and active from the start, showing loads of affection for family members with plenty of energy to fuel their antics.

Many European Shorthairs are inquisitive and outgoing, looking for opportunities to explore and play. Others are much shyer and can show a very reserved personality; especially around strangers. But most of these cats can form deep and lasting bonds with their families.

Another common trait of this breed is an affinity for the outdoors. They love to spend time outside, though this can sometimes prove dangerous for a housecat. As such, many owners of these felines will set up a perch near a window so their cat can get a taste of the outside without risking their health and wellbeing.

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

In general, this breed tends to bond strongly with their family, which is part of the reason for their widespread popularity. Even the more reserved and shy European Shorthairs tend to form long-lasting bonds with family members.

Regarding children, this breed does well, so long as the children understand how to handle a cat. If they play too rough, the cat can become overwhelmed and will avoid the children. But if they’re calm and treat the cat appropriately, they should be able to form the same loving bonds that the cat will form with their adult owners.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

European Shorthairs tend to be quite territorial. As such, they won’t always get along with other cats or dogs. That said, there have been many examples of these animals doing well with both cats and dogs. A lot of it has to do with the other pets. If they aren’t aggressive, then there’s a better chance of them getting along. But if your Shorthair is very territorial, then they may never get along with other pets.

Still, by introducing your European Shorthair to other pets early on, you might be able to sway their opinion and make them comfortable with other cats and even dogs. However, you should always avoid having these cats around small pets like hamsters and gerbils. The cat’s hunting instincts are more than likely to take over and result in a very predatory cat and a scared, anxious rodent.

grey and white European shorthair cat
Image Credit: Johanna Mehrke Fotografie, Shutterstock

yarn ball dividerThings to Know When Owning a European Shorthair Cat:

Food & Diet Requirements 🐡

European Shorthairs are relatively easy cats to care for. They don’t have any specific dietary requirements. You’ll do fine feeding your cat a high-quality dry cat kibble that’s high in protein and low in carbs. You can also supplement their diet with canned cat food to ensure they’re getting plenty of diverse protein sources.

Exercise 🐈

This breed is moderately active. They won’t require much exercise aside from a good play session once or twice each day. For the most part, they’ll take care of this themselves. Just make sure you have plenty of fun toys on hand for them to play with. Small mouse toys are excellent, but you’ll have to figure out which toys your cat prefers. Like with most cats, you can always rely on the trusty old laser pointer and have some fun watching your cat chase it around while they’re getting plenty of exercise.

Training 🧶

European Shorthairs are considered to be highly intelligent felines. As such, they’re generally very trainable and are known for learning quickly.

Image Credit: Isabella-Marlen, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Compared to other cats, this breed doesn’t require much grooming. They don’t have an undercoat and they’ll take care of most grooming on their own. All you’ll have to do is provide the basics. Brush their coat out once or twice a week. While you’re at it, ensure that their ears are cleaned and nails are trimmed.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Overall, European Shorthairs are considered to be a hardy breed that’s not susceptible to many health conditions. Still, there are some concerns that you ought to keep an eye out for if you’re going to own one of these cats.

Minor Conditions
  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome: Many European Shorthairs are brachycephalic, meaning they have short, squished faces. This can often cause issues with breathing. Usually, this is not a life-threatening issue and may not cause any problems for the affected cat, though it can be a serious problem in some cases.
Serious Conditions
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease: This is a condition where multiple cysts appear on a cat’s kidneys, impairing their normal function.
  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Called ARDS for short, this disease is also known as shock lung. It’s when the lungs suffer severe inflammation, leading to respiratory failure and death.

Male vs Female

There is very little difference between male and female European Shorthairs. In general, male cats of any breed tend to be more affectionate and sociable, while females tend to be more aloof and independent. But this is not a hard rule, and personality and temperament really just comes down to each individual cat, so don’t let that stop you from getting a female vs a male if that’s what you want.

In any case, it is important to spay or neuter your cat. This will lessen undesirable behaviors such as spraying and others associated with heat cycles, as well as prevent kittens. Spaying and neutering can also help prevent certain types of cancers in cats.

cat + line dividerFinal Thoughts

There are good reasons why the European Shorthair has become one of the most popular breeds of feline in all of Europe. These cats are easy to care for and make excellent companions. They’re affectionate, loving, and can bond with every member of the household. With luck, yours might even get along with other pets.

European Shorthairs are incredibly adaptable cats, doing well in a variety of situations. They’ve been popular since the times of ancient Rome, and their popularity shows no signs of waning. Whether you need a loving companion or an adept hunter to keep rodents at bay on your farm, the European Shorthair is a breed that’s worth considering for any would-be cat owner.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

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