European Shorthair

by Michael
(London, UK)

European Shorthair - beautiful brown mackerel tabby QUINCY (more below)

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European Shorthair – beautiful brown mackerel tabby QUINCY (more below)

The European Shorthair is a breed of cat that at present (2010) comes third in the trio of nationally named shorthaired cats. The others being the better known American Shorthair and British Shorthair cats. That is not to say that this “ranking” will remain the same. This page is shorter than usual as build time is commensurate to popularity.


This is a relatively little known cat breed that is said to originate in Sweden1 and which is better known in Sweden for that reason3. I suspect that this is incorrect and its place of origin is the European mainland2.

Perhaps it is less well known because the breed is found on continental or mainland Europe (essentially Europe excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland). The UK is the home of the cat fancy and there is arguably less cat fancy activity on mainland Europe.

Another possible reason why the breed has not caught the imagination of the cat fancy is because the mainstream shorthair market is already fully subscribed. Is there really room for a very similar cat to the American and British SHs? Finally, the history of this cat is much shorter. Both the American and British SHs have long histories going back to the beginning of the cat fancy in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

So, notwithstanding the breed occupies a vastly larger area than the UK it is less well known and less popular than the Brit SH. Indeed I have not listed it in the most popular breed poll (probably unfairly).

Until 1982 the British and European Shorthairs were classified together. FIFe, having then classified the breed separately created an instant new breed, which through selective breeding become less cobby than the rather square, slightly flat faced British Shorthair. It is also longer in the body. These differences is it said might reflect the generally warmer climate on mainland Europe and the less cobby cats that occupy it. I think that this cat looks more like the American Shorthair. When breeding this cat today (2010) no British Shorthair crosses are allowed2.

The European Shorthair is a regular looking cat, nicely balanced with similar traits to the British counterpart. It looks like a British random bred cat, in fact – utterly normal in conformation and character (calm and affectionate2 is well socialised).


european shorthair cat1The body is medium to large and well muscled. It is not a cobby cat, however (see cat body types).

The coat is short and dense. It does not lie flat against the body as is the case for the single coated cats. However, it is said that it “should lie flat”3. This is either incorrect as a dense coat should not lie flat or the wide open breed standard allows for single coated cats in which case the coat would lie flat.

The face should “give the impression of being rounded” but be longer than it is wide. The is triangular to rounded with well defined muzzle.

The ears should be medium sized and upright. Eyes: large round and well spaced with a colour that matches the coat. Legs: medium length and muscular. Tail: medium length, thick at base, tapering to rounded tip2.

The FIFe breed standard probably sums up the objectives for the this breed in saying that it should look as if it has not been bred but developed naturally. In short it should look like a moggie cat but have a pedigree. The FIFe breed standard is shorter and more open than those of the American cat associations.

The weight range is between 8 and 15 lbs (3.5 to 7 kg)

The breed colours are: (1) the three traditional tabby patterns of classic (blotched), mackerel and spotted coats in brown, blue, red, cream, tortie and blue tortie. The Abyssinian type ticked coat is not recognised. Variations on the tabby coats are naturally accepted and the high contrast silvers are popular2. Tabby markings should be symmetrical (2) Self (solid) colours of black, blue (see picture above right), red, cream, tortie, blue tortie, white (3) Smokes (colours as for selfs and tortie excluding white) (4) Bicolors (standard and Van patterns), colours are all self colours and torties with white.

Pointed European Shorthairs are accepted. These cats look very similar to the traditional Siamese except the “body tends to show more shading”2.

See the FIFe breed standard – link broken Aug 2013


Heading image: Wikimedia® commons license – Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License – author: Fleshgrinder Cat: Quincy.

1 Cat Facts website

2 The Encyclopedia of the Cat by Dr. Bruce Fogle

3 Wikipedia authors

Associated Pages:

Link to original Flickr Photo (photo half way down page)

Comparison between American, British and European Shorthaired cats

British Shorthair Cat

American Shorthair Cat

Michael Avatar

From European Shorthair to Home Page

American Shorthair.

Comments for
European Shorthair

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Nov 01, 2010Childhood cats
by: Finn Frode, DenmarkHi Michael. Well, no wonder if we see the tabby shorthair as the epitome of domestic cats, as we both have had childhood photos taken with them.
I’ve seem yours on the page ‘First Steps with Cats’ – mine is on
The European Shorthair type was so common back then that turning it into a special breed could seem a silly thing to do. I am however glad somebody did, because these days it’s impossible to prevent a population from crossbreeding with totally different cat types – and loosing ‘our native cat’ would indeed be a shame.

Oct 30, 2010Hi Finn
by: MichaelI have just seen your comment! And I agree with you wholeheartedly.This cat is the cat that I knew in England when I was growing up and it still is the epitome of the classic domestic cat, purebred or not.

Michael Avatar

Feb 26, 2010The very image of cat
by: Finn Frode, DenmarkSomething like the picture of Quincy inevitably comes to my mind whenever I think of the word ‘cat’, maybe because this was what the cats of my childhood looked like.
Although refining the European Shorthair breed started in Sweden, it is based on what I think was once the common type of domestic cat all over Northern Europe. And maybe on the British Isles as well – before Persian were bred into the British Shorthair lines.Finn Frode avatar

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