Short-Haired Cats

Abyssinian

Resembles the cats depicted by the ancient Egyptians. Coat may be ruddy or red and eyes gold, green, or hazel.

The SomaliThe Somali is a long-haired Abyssinian cat.
What Is an Aby Cat?

Aby is short for Abyssinian (ab uh SIHN ee uhn). The word Abyssinian means, “having to do with Abyssinia,” which is a name that was once used for the African nation of Ethiopia. People once believed the Aby cat originated in Abyssinia. Today, experts believe this cat actually originated in Asia.

The Abyssinian cat is beautiful, lean, and muscular with a long, tapering tail. This cat has a wedge-shaped head with very large ears and almond-shaped eyes.

Abys have an unusual color of coat, known as agouti (uh GOO tee). Fur that is called agouti is made up of two or three bands of light and dark colors. These alternating bands of color may be red and brown, or reddish-brown and black or dark brown.

American (or Domestic) Shorthair

Among most popular of the shorthair breeds. Powerfully built, muscular body with short, thick coat that may be any of numerous colors. Eye color should complement the coat color. The tabby varieties are especially common.

American Wirehair

Very similar to American Shorthair except for coat, which is coarse, stiff, and wiry.

British Shorthair

Similar to American Shorthair but somewhat smaller.

Burmese

Said to have originated in Burma. Coat is brown; eyes, yellowish. Body shape is similar to that of the Siamese.

Egyptian Mau

Very much like Siamese in body structure, but coloring is entirely different. It is either pale silvery with black markings (spots and stripes) or light bronze with dark brown markings. Eyes are green, yellow, or hazel.

Exotic Shorthair

Like Persian in body structure, but with a short coat. Breed produced by mating short-haired cats to Persians. Many different coat colors and patterns as well as eye colors.

Havana Brown

Similar to Siamese, but with dark brown fur and green eyes.

The Havana brown catThe Havana brown cat has a red-brown coat and vivid green eyes.
Japanese Bobtail

Bred for centuries in Japan. Tail is only two to three inches (51 to 76 mm) long, and the back legs are longer than the forelegs. Variety of colors.

Korat

Native to Thailand; bred for hundreds of years. Coat is silver-blue and eyes green-gold.

The Korat catThe Korat cat has a silver-gray coat and large green eyes.
Manx

Only recognized breed that lacks tail. Old breed of unknown origin; named for the Isle of Man, where it has been bred for centuries. Eyes and coat may be any of a variety of colors.

A Manx catA Manx cat has no tail.
What Is a Short-haired Cat?

All cats are members of the family Felidae (FEE luh dy). This family includes the lion, tiger, panther, and leopard. It also includes domestic cats. Domestic cats are smaller members of the cat family that were tamed by humans long ago and which are now often kept as pets. Whether small or large, all cats are carnivores, or meat-eaters, and they are skillful hunters. In addition, all cats are warm-blooded and are mammals, animals that feed their young with milk made by the mother.

Short-haired cats are domestic cats that have short instead of long fur. A short-haired cat may have a single or double coat. A single coat is usually made up of fine or silky fur that clings close to the body. Siamese cats and Burmese cats have single coats. A double coat is made up of long hairs called guard hairs and a thick, downy undercoat. Manx and Russian blue cats have double coats.

What Is a Colorpoint Shorthair?

A Colorpoint shorthair is a breed of short-haired cat that looks like a Siamese. It is a medium-sized cat with a slender body, blue eyes, and a colorpoint coat—that is, a body with light, solid-colored fur and contrasting points.

Colorpoint shorthairs come in red and cream, but they cannot be any unpatterned version of the four accepted colors for a Siamese—blue, chocolate, lilac, or seal.

Colorpoints can, however, have a pattern called lynx (also sometimes called tabby) that consists of striped fur in the points; tortie, which is a patched shading of color in the points; or tortie-lynx (sometimes called tortie-tabby), which is a combination of stripes and patches in the points. This lynx, tortie, or tortie-lynx can be the usual colorpoint coloring of red or cream, but it may also be a patterned version of the usual Siamese colors.

Russian Blue

Thought to have originated in Russia. Bluish gray with vivid green eyes. Coat is short and very thick.

The Russian blue catThe Russian blue cat is blue-gray with vivid green eyes.
Siamese

Originated in Asia, probably in Siam (now Thailand). Body is cream-colored with dark ears, feet, face, and tail. Eyes are a vivid blue. The dark markings are called points and may be bluish-gray (blue-point Siamese); dark brown (seal-point Siamese); medium brown (chocolate-point Siamese); or lilac-gray (lilac-point Siamese).

The Siamese catThe Siamese cat is cream-colored with dark features and blue eyes.
How Did the Siamese Breed Develop?

In 1884, a pair of Siamese cats was brought to the United Kingdom. Their offspring won many prizes at cat shows, and the breed soon gained worldwide popularity. Siamese were first introduced into the United States in 1890.

Of the 24 short-haired breeds recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the major cat association in the United States, the Siamese is the most popular.

What Kind of Personality Might a Siamese Have?

Siamese cats are very “talkative.” Most Siamese are louder than cats of other breeds, and their “speech” varies more in tone and pitch than other breeds. Siamese can be very insistent, too; they often issue loud, mournful meows until they get your attention.

Siamese are very affectionate. Most are active and playful, but they can also be moody and impatient. They do not do well when left alone for long periods; many Siamese need the company of another cat or dog for those times when their owner cannot devote attention to them.

Siamese cats also are curious about everything around them, and they can be mischief-makers.

What Should You Look for When Choosing a Siamese Kitten?

The most important thing about choosing a pet kitten is that it is healthy. Some signs of good health are: alertness; normal body weight; bright, clear eyes; a clean, slightly moist nose; clean teeth and pink gums; quiet breathing (no wheezing, coughing, or sneezing); no lumps or bumps on the body; clean ears with no unpleasant smell; and a glossy coat that feels clean to the touch.

Try to choose a cat that is not at either personality extreme. Neither choose a cat that is very shy and fearful, nor one that is wild and frenzied.

Should You Get an Older Siamese Instead of a Kitten?

There are a number of advantages to adopting an older Siamese. Often, older cats have already been spayed or neutered so that they are unable to produce young. An older cat may also have been tested for infectious diseases and is often already used to living with people.

Animal shelters in your area may well have Siamese cats available for adoption. There are also a number of sites on the Internet devoted to the rescue of purebred cats, including Siamese. These sites feature abandoned cats for adoption to loving homes. Or, breeders may sometimes have cats that are being retired from the show ring that are available to be adopted.

What Does a Siamese Eat?

Most Siamese eat a diet of commercial canned or dry cat food. Whatever type of food you choose, you should vary the flavors given. Otherwise, a cat may become so used to eating only one flavor that it refuses everything else.

Some people feed their Siamese cats limited types of table food (human food), such as cottage cheese, egg yolks, and scraps of meat and vegetables. If you choose to do this, you should feed your cat table food only in very small quantities in addition to cat food. Table food does not provide a cat with a balanced, nutritious diet, which packaged food does. Like all cats, Siamese should have fresh drinking water at all times.

Where Should a Siamese Sleep?

You may think that your Siamese should sleep in the cat bed you bought for it. Your Siamese will probably think that it should sleep in your bed—on your feet, your pillow, or your head. You, and the adults you live with, will have to decide where to allow your cat to sleep.

In general, cats prefer to sleep in warm, comfortable places. This is instinctive behavior—that is, a behavior that is not learned, but which an animal is born knowing. As hunters, sleeping in warm, cozy places helps cats to conserve energy, since they don’t need to expend any energy to keep their bodies warm. That means they don’t need to hunt for food as much.

How Do You Groom a Siamese?

Most Siamese cats enjoy being brushed or combed. Brushing a cat daily keeps a cat clean. It also helps to remove loose fur, which prevents hairballs and reduces shedding.

Pet Siamese cats that do not compete in shows usually do not need to be bathed. Most cats do not enjoy being wet and do not like being bathed.

A veterinarian or other adult should trim a Siamese’s nails regularly. Some people use special trimmers for this task.

Some Siamese cats develop feline acne, or chin acne, which is an infection caused by bacteria on their chin or lower lip. If your cat is prone to this, you can often prevent outbreaks by wiping its chin and face clean at least once a day with a cotton ball and warm, soapy water.

Can You Train Your Siamese?

Siamese cats are very smart and eager to please. Some owners enjoy teaching their cat simple tricks. For example, a Siamese might be taught to jump up into its owner’s arms, take a bow, or to “sit up” on its back legs. Siamese can also learn to “fetch” and to walk on a leash. However, some people might say that Siamese cats train their owners, not the other way around.

To teach your cat not to claw your furniture, carpets, and drapes, give it a scratching post. Whenever you see your cat clawing a forbidden object, carry the cat to the scratching post. It will soon learn what you want.

You should not need to “train” your Siamese to use a litter box. Usually, while a kitten is still very young, it learns how to use a litter box by watching its mother. Then you need only to make sure that the litter box is easy to reach and keep it clean. If your cat does not use its litter box, you should consult a veterinarian on ways to train it to do so.

What Kinds of Exercise or Play Are Needed?

Like all animals, Siamese cats need exercise. If your cat enjoys walking on a leash, you can make this a regular part of your routine. If not, don’t worry—your cat can get plenty of exercise indoors. Any time is playtime for a Siamese.

Siamese are very intelligent and need to be kept amused. They appreciate having toys. Most Siamese love to chase balls. A lightweight plastic ball or even a wadded up piece of paper will provide lots of entertainment for your cat. Most cats also love to jump after toys that dangle from a flexible wire. Pet stores carry many products designed around this basic theme.

Cats naturally scratch at objects to pull off the worn outer layers of their claws. A scratching post gives a cat something acceptable to claw at. It also allows a cat to flex its muscles.

How Can You Help a Siamese Care for Its Young?

Taking care of the mother cat will allow her to take good care of her young. Before the kittens are born, ask your veterinarian what to feed the mother while she is pregnant (expecting young) and once she is feeding her young. Very young cats drink milk made by their mother, and this milk provides all the nutrients kittens need.

Soon after the kittens are born, you should begin getting them used to being petted and handled by humans. Your vet can advise you as to the recommended age for a kitten to be handled. Many experts recommend that kittens be handled daily. This early contact helps them bond with people, boosts their growth and development, and may improve their ability to learn.

Vets can also advise as to what age kittens should be when they have their first veterinary exam and when they should begin eating solid food.

Does a Siamese Cat Have a Point?

“Points” are the name for the areas of darker color on a Siamese cat’s coat. The darker areas in a Siamese’s fur are controlled by an enzyme (EHN zym)—a protein that influences chemical reactions in plants and animals.

The enzyme that affects the fur of Siamese is heat-sensitive. The enzyme isn’t effective at normal temperatures for a cat’s body, but the enzyme becomes active in cooler areas of the cat’s skin, such as the ears, legs, tail, and face. The same type of enzyme is responsible for the color camouflage of the Arctic fox. Most Arctic foxes change from brown or gray in summer to white in winter.

All Siamese kittens are pure cream-colored or white at birth because of the constant warmth inside their mother’s body. Once a kitten is born, new, darker fur grows in to replace the white or cream fur. By the time a Siamese kitten is four weeks old, its points will begin to develop the color they will have when the cat is an adult.