Domestic shorthair, or DSH, is a fancy term for the all-round, randomly bred C.A.T. You may have one sitting on your lap while reading this article. While the DSH isn't purebred, a similarly named feline, the American shorthair, does have a breed registry.
That's the Latin name for your basic domestic shorthair. The Egyptians first domesticated cats about 4,000 years old, according to National Geographic. That was a society that knew how to treat the DSH - they made gods out of them. Your DSH probably wishes you felt the same way as the ancient Egyptians, but he'll settle for being waited on hand and foot -- or paw and paw? However, many working cats earn their keep, by keeping rodents out of areas where grain is stored. That's why many farms and stables still need a crew of barn cats, almost always of the DSH variety, unless they're DLHs -- domestic longhairs.
Domestic shorthairs come in every variety of cat color, with the exception of the Siamese's solid body color with darker shades of that hue on the face, tail and legs. Perhaps the most common DSH coloring is a tabby variation. Tabbies have various colors blended together in the coat, along with various markings. Tabbies may have stripes, like little tigers or round markings on the body. If you look closely, you may see tabby stripes on what appears to be a solid-colored cat. For example, a black cat may have tabby stripes on his head, but it's hard to see them except when the light hits the cat a certain way. Many orange cats have tabby markings.
Not all cats have nine lives. The DSH, not being purebred, might have a hybrid vigor that keeps certain hereditary diseases out of the gene pool, but some diseases commonly occur in the feline. These include feline diabetes; cystitis, or bladder inflammation; upper respiratory ailments and hyperthyroidism. Your cat should have regular veterinary checkups, and if anything seems amiss in your cat's behavior, eating or elimination habits, call the vet.
Although often confused with the DSH, the American Shorthair's ancestors reputedly came over on the Mayflower. Adding to the confusion, the breed was referred to as the DSH until 1965, when the breed name was changed. The American Shorthair is not dissimilar in appearance to many DSH, but the ideal version is medium-sized and solid looking. While other colors are permitted, silver tabby is probably the best-known shade of the breed.
Spay and Neuter
Spaying or neutering your domestic shorthair is very important. Not only will the surgery make an indoor cat's life better for you and the cat, but there is a serious cat overpopulation in this country. The supply of DSHs greatly outstrips the demand, resulting in high euthanization rates at many animal shelters. Don't be a litterbug -- spay and neuter your cats.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.