European Shorthair: The Perfect Breed for an Active or Mice-Infested Home

Image showing an European Shorthair cat lying on the floor in house
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Choosing to have a cat as your pet is a great decision. But wait until you realize how many cat breeds you have to choose from. In the end, it comes down to what kind of lifestyle you lead. You’ll need to pick a cat breed that will fit seamlessly into your household. If your household is currently dealing with a rat infestation or you lead a mobile lifestyle so you need a cat that won’t get stressed out by changes in their environment, the European Shorthair should be taken into consideration.

These cats have inherited their wildcat ancestors’ affinity for hunting down pests efficiently. Due to them being a natural cat breed, they are also quite healthy and robust. They adapt really well to new environments. While other cats will find a secluded nook or cranny in their new home to hide in for the first few days, the fearless European Shorthair will be exploring their surroundings from the moment they arrive.

Image showing an orange European Shorthair cat lying on the floor in house

This article contains everything that you need to know about this cat breed. We will discuss this breed’s history, personality, physical characteristics, and all that you need to know about how to care for one properly should you adopt a European Shorthair into your family. If you read this piece till the end, all your questions about the European Shorthair will be answered.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Very high

  • Grooming: Moderate

  • Health: Good

  • All-Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average Needs

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Natural Breed
WeightMales: 8 to 15 pounds

Females: 7 to 12 pounds
Life expectancyIndoor: 15 to 20 years

Outdoor: 5 to 12 years

The European Shorthair is a cat breed that originated in Europe. This cat is very similar to the Celtic Shorthair. The European Shorthair was first recognized in 1949 by the Federation International Feline (FIFe). The first cat to be registered in this breed category was born back in 1940—although evidence can be found indicating that this cat breed was established as early as the 1930s.

This breed descended from the natural mouse hunters found in Europe. This cat breed developed naturally—which means that these cats are very active and strong, and also very playful. This cat has the ability to handle changes in their environment easily. Hence they are very suitable for active homes.

Close-up image of an Euopean shorthair male cat

The European Shorthair is very friendly towards people irrespective of their age. They are also very open to playing with strangers. The European Shorthair has a short coat. This means they require only moderate grooming since this cat does not experience a lot of shedding. The color of this cat’s coat range wildly; they could sport black, cream, or blue undertones with silver or white markings. Their eye color usually corresponds to the color that they have on their skin.

Since this cat breed developed naturally from a breed that specializes in hunting rodents, the European Shorthair can be very effective in keeping your home free from these unwanted guests. The European Shorthair is not very vocal. Also, they are not attention-seekers, which means that you won’t have to dedicate a lot of time to them if you don’t want to—although if you do, they would be happy to receive your affection. In case you have got other pets at home, there is no need to worry as this cat breed is very friendly to dogs and other cats.

Main Highlights

  • These cats are the direct descendants of the famous mouse hunters found in Europe. Hence, they are very good at keeping your home free from rodents.

  • This cat is very friendly. They love being around people and other pets—even strangers.

  • The European Shorthair is only moderately vocal. Hence, there’s no need to expect annoying meowing at night. This makes the cat ideal for people who live in apartments.

  • Since their coat is short, the cat experiences only minimal shedding. Hence, they only need moderate grooming.

  • Due to their ability to handle changes, the cat is highly suited to an active home.

  • They are very good with kids of all ages.

  • The cat is intelligent and laidback. This makes it easy for you to train him or her.

Breed History

The European Shorthair’s breed history can be traced back to about 2000 years ago in Rome. This breed originated from two cat breeds that the Romans used to control rodent populations—namely the African wildcat and the native European wildcat. The process of developing this cat breed did not involve any breeders. Hence, this breed is usually considered a pure breed.

European Shorthair cat lying down on side

Before 1982, the British Shorthair and the European Shorthair were recognized as the same breed although the British Shorthair had been crossed with the Persian breed and were selectively bred. The major difference between the British Shorthair and the European Shorthair is that the British Shorthair has a thicker coat, a slightly shorter muzzle, and they also have a cobbier appearance. In 1982, FIFe finally registered the European Shorthair as a separate breed.


The European Shorthair is a medium-sized cat who usually stands at the height of 12 to 14 inches. If you manage to feed your cat well—making sure that he or she does not gain any extra weight—the average weight that the cat will have varies between 8 and 15 pounds for males and ranges from 7 to 12 pounds for females.

European Shorthair Cat at a show

The cat has a broad and well-muscled chest. You should expect his or her legs to be of average length with round paws. Their tail has a base that is fairly thick with a rounded tip.

The European Shorthair’s head is rounded and bigger than the British Shorthair’s. This cat has medium-sized ears. The height of the ears usually corresponds to their body height. Also, these ears have a tip that is slightly rounded.

Personality and Character

Since controlled breeding was not involved in the process of developing the European Shorthair cat breed, their temperament and behavior may vary widely. However, this breed is generally very friendly to people, including strangers.

If you have kids in your home, this cat will gladly keep them company. They are also known to be very loyal. This cat is very intelligent. Hence, teaching them new tactics is bound to be a very easy process. These cats have the ability to adapt to new environments.

An orange European Shorthair Cat looking up

Since their original ancestors were rodent hunters, this cat is very active and has the ability to help you with pest control. If you keep other pets at home, for example, dogs, this cat will not have any problem with having to live with these pets. Sometimes, this cat breed may display a territorial behavior although this is rare. Also, due to the cat’s strong hunting instinct, you need to keep small pets such as hamsters and guinea pigs out of their reach.

These cats are also very playful. This is a trait that makes fun cat toys a requirement in order to keep them occupied. If they don’t have anything to channel their energy through, they could become erratic.

Health and Potential Problems

The European Shorthair does not have a lot of health issues. The cat is hypoallergenic, which means that it is highly unlikely that they will incite any allergic reactions in you.

One common health complication that is known to affect this cat is the polycystic kidney disease. This is a disease that causes your cat’s kidneys to develop cysts. You need to select the cat you adopt carefully; ask the breeder you are buying your cat from to perform a gene test. Also, this cat may sometimes suffer from lower urinary tract infections and vomiting.

Red An orange European Shorthair Cat sitting in his owners hands

Being a mouse hunter, this cat breed loves exploring the outdoors—which places them at a high risk of contracting pests like fleas, ticks, and worms. To make sure that your cat would not be affected by these pests, ensure that you keep their surroundings clean all the time and preferably limit their exploration to controlled areas such as an enclosure.

Care Features

The European Shorthair is a very sociable cat. On the other hand, this cat is not attention-seeking. Hence, you won’t have to dedicate a lot of time to him or her. Due to them being very energetic by nature, you should get them some interactive play toys in order to keep them occupied while you’re away. The cat has the ability to entertain themselves without bothering you. To keep their intelligent mind occupied, you will need to challenge them mentally every once in a while. A good tool for a mental challenge is the food puzzle.

Feeding Schedule

The first thing that you need to note about the European Shorthair is the fact that they are predators. This means that you need to keep their meals rich with animal-based protein.

If possible, we suggest that you prepare homemade meals for your cat. Natural food works better for all cats. This is because they contain the major nutrients which help keep your cat healthy. Also, artificial products usually contain additives that may cause an allergic reaction in your cat. If homemade meals aren’t possible, we suggest feeding them with canned wet cat food.


Before feeding your cat with commercial food, read the instructions provided in the package on how to best do that. When in doubt, contact a veterinarian for guidance. You should also make sure that you keep your European Shorthair hydrated all the time.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

This cat has a coat that is soft, short, sleek, and dense. The colors that you will find in their coat range from black, cream, blue, to the occasional red. This cat sometimes has tabby patterns on their coat.

Since they have a coat that is both short and sleek, they require less grooming. Brushing them once every week should be good enough. Also, we suggest routinely bathing your cat once a month or when he or she gets dirty. You should also make sure that you keep the cat’s ears and eyes clean. 

european-shorthair cat looking at a frog

When you are grooming the European Shorthair, it is essential to check for any injuries, soreness, or anything abnormal on their skin. Since these cats are active and can sometimes be territorial, they could get into a fight and end up getting hurt. Some injuries can be hidden in such a way that you may lack the ability to spot them visibly. In case you do find any abnormalities, take your cat to the vet immediately.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

If you have kids in your home, this cat could be an ideal choice for you. This cat is very friendly to children. Hence they won’t get offended when your kids get a bit rough while playing.

This cat is also very compatible with other pets—especially if the introduction is done right. If you plan to keep them with a dog, just make sure you separate their feeding bowls, so they don’t get into a fight over food.

european-shorthair cat sitting on a wall

One thing to note is that you will need to keep your European Shorthair away from small pets. Due to their strong hunting instinct, this cat can very easily attack smaller pets like birds or hamsters—taking them for rodents.

Wrap Up

The European Shorthair is a great pet to have in your home. The cat is very friendly to their owners and also to strangers. The cat has the ability to adapt to changes—which makes him or her very suitable for an active home. Being an intelligent cat, teaching them new tricks is very easy. This cat is not attention-seeking although they do enjoy any attention given. Grooming is a very simple affair as their coat is short.

The cat is generally very healthy, although you’ll need to watch out for kidney diseases and urinary tract infections. As an added advantage, this cat is very good at hunting and killing rodents. This trait can make them an ideal pet in case you have rodents in your home disrupting your peace. Since this cat is not very vocal, they are suitable companions for people who live in a smaller apartment.

One european shorthair cat and another 4 in the background

Adopting a cat is a huge commitment. This is why you need to make sure that the cat you choose is a great fit for you. Yes, we do know that there is no perfect cat, but, having a cat that you can relate to will help you enjoy your time with the cat.

Are you in need of a cat that can clear your house of rodents? Or would you prefer a cat that’s attention-seeking and depends on you more than you do them? Have you ever owned a European Shorthair before? How was the experience? Which health problems did you notice? If you have something that you would like to add to this article, please feel free to do it in the comments section.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.