- A cat of many coat colors — Domestic longhair cats have many coat patterns and colors, and are a part of many breeds recognized today.
- An origin story shrouded in mystery — Longhaired cats come from many corners of the world, but no one is quite sure when or if they originated in one place.
- Some cats are known for their long coats — Breeds like the Turkish Angora and Maine Coon have a few distinct features, including a long, luxurious, beautiful coat.
It’s tough to categorize the domestic longhair cat as a breed simply because this coat length is universal across numerous cat breeds. Whether you’re a first-time cat owner bringing home a mixed breed, or a seasoned cat guru adding a Himalayan to your home, it’s good to know the role that long haired cats have played throughout history.
The hairy history of domestic longhaired cats
The origins of longhaired cats are as many as the hairs on their fluffy bodies, but one thing is for sure — these fantastic furry felines have had a big part in our history. Keep reading to see how your feline’s ancestors shaped the world.
A Middle Eastern origin
The Crusades were a darker part of history, but some historians theorize that one positive did come as a result of Europe’s failed attempt to subjugate the Middle East: the spread of domestic longhair cats.
One such example is the Turkish Angora, a beautiful, typically solid white cat. Originally from Turkey, historians believe that they are a natural, ancient breed. Soldiers may have brought back these exotic, longhaired cats with luxurious coats, as well as a variety of others, when returning home. In Europe, they flourished and caused new populations to fall in love with their luxurious locks.
The Middle Ages, epidemics, and cats
Forget the plague doctors, the real heroes of the Middle Ages were the cats. The long and short of it is that all cats had a paw in reducing the severity — they slowed the spread of the plague by hunting the most popular carriers: mice. Mice carried fleas that helped spread the plague, and cats controlled the mouse population.
Humphrey the street cat
No. 10 Downing Street is the official residence of Britain’s prime minister. In 1989, it also became the home of 1-year-old Humphrey, a domestic longhair cat with back and white markings. As “Mouser to the Cabinet Office,” Humphrey was paid £100 a year (mostly in cat food) — for cats taking notes, that works out to about $342 USD today.
Cold climate origins
Not deterred by the matters of men, it’s also very likely that the domestic longhair cat simply evolved to tolerate colder climates. Longer and thicker coats are a natural result of colder weather, so even cats with thick, short coats (like the Russian Blue) can trace their origins back to harsher climates. Take, for example, the Maine Coon.
Maine Coons: America’s domestic long-haired cat
A hardy, longhaired cat breed, the Maine Coon is native to North America. They are a massive, athletically-built breed with distinct human-like faces and friendly personalities. Thanks to their sweet disposition, long, fluffy coat, and big size, these gentle giants have no problem pawing their way into any home.
Domestic longhair cat personality
The domestic longhair cat isn’t a true breed, but rather a coat that applies to many breeds. Because of this, most long haired cats have unique personalities (although a love of hunting is fairly universal). Some breeds, like the Maine Coon, do tend to have certain traits that separate them from other breeds. But, for the most part, every domestic longhair kitten will have their own unique, fabulous personality.
Socializing and training domestic longhair cats
Teaching your cat to be friendly to other cats, or training a cat to do something has more to do with the cat than their coat. Some cats, like Maine Coons, might be easier to socialize due to a friendly predisposition. Training may be easier for some breeds as well, although studies are ongoing regarding how cat intelligence can impact the training process.
Caring for domestic longhair cats
While cats are very self-sufficient, there are some things that they just can’t do for themselves, even if we wish they could. Here are some basic care tips and tasks to help your favorite furball.
- Grooming. Typically, cats are meticulous groomers and don’t need help, but for longer-haired cats, they may need things like a bath or detangling from time to time due to mats.
- Nail trims. When provided with scratching posts, cats are good about keeping their nails in tip-top shape, but it’s still helpful to get your kitten used to trimming their nails.
- Brushing teeth. Cats can develop dental diseases, like gingivitis, just like we can. It’s important to keep those fangs pearly white.
Some domestic longhair cats are prone to matting more than others. For owners who aren’t able to detangle matted cat fur, it may be best to seek out help from a professional. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that there are disadvantages concerning going to a groomer vs at-home grooming. And, it isn’t due to a drastic change in looks.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne
My experience has been cats who spend an extended time at any type of animal facility will often bring home foreign scents that sometimes cause housemates to attack regardless if they have a change in appearance or not. So it is likely not a consequence of a change of appearance. When this happens, it is best when cats return home they are initially separated for a day or so until the smells have decreased.
In addition to basic care tips, it’s also important to keep your cat’s coat in mind. Longer, thicker fur makes them ideal for colder climates, but also prone to overheating. Watch for rapid breathing, and pay attention to your cat’s body language for signs of stress.
And, for cats that like to adventure to the great outdoors with their owners, a cat harness is the best way to keep them safe.
Buying or adopting a domestic longhair cat
Bringing home a domestic longhair cat isn’t hard. For some cat parents, it’s as simple as a walk around the neighborhood and being followed home by a new friend. For those that want to buy or adopt, though, domestic longhair cat prices vary.
For pet parents looking to buy a purebred cat, like a Maine Coon, expect to pay up to $2,500 for a healthy kitten. For those open to adoption, though, adopting from a shelter or rescue can range from less than $100 to around $500.
Frequently asked questions
Are domestic longhair cats rare?
Quite the opposite, actually. Domestic longhair cats are one of the most common types of cats in the United States.
Are domestic longhair cats friendly?
Like any other cat, each domestic longhair cat has a unique personality. Some are friendly, while others are more aloof. Most cats, longhaired ones included, tend to be excellent hunters and engage in hunting for playtime, as kittens, and when eating.
Is a domestic longhair a Maine Coon?
In the domestic longhair cat vs Maine Coon debate, many people often think they are one and the same. All Maine Coons are domestic longhaired cats, but not all domestic longhaired cats are Maine Coons.