It is no wonder the domestic longhair cats are so popular. If they are properly groomed and brushed, their coat is a beautiful sight to see. For many people the longhaired cat is the most beautiful of cats.
Usually domestic medium hair cat is grouped under long haired cats – it has a fluffy coat which is slightly shorter than that of the longhaired cats.
The first Angora cats appeared in Europe in the 16th Century, but longhaired cats were probably in existence even before that. After all – the Romans who ruled most of Europe, had a state that expanded to areas far away where longhaired cats are known to have developed. With their liking of luxuries it is not far-fetched to assume they might have carried these beauties with them to Europe.
From Europe the long haired cats came to America in the ships of the pilgrims – to help fight the rodent problem. There is also a story that tells how Marie Antoinette sent her beloved Turkish Angoras to safety to the New World in the very same ship that was meant for her own escape. So who knows – maybe the longhairs now in the States carry the genes of Marie Antoinettes cats…
The domestic longhair, just like the domestic shorthair, is a cat of mixed ancestry. The long hair gene is recessive, and this means that to be long haired, the cat must get the long hair gene from both its parents.
In all probability long hair was a gene mutation in Asia Minor or Russia / Siberia (or both – both areas where a warmer, longer coat would be good protection against a colder climate. Other typical changes in animals of colder climates that also appear in these long-haired cats are the heavier body and dense undercoat (but not always: the lovely Turkish Angora has no undercoat) and coarser hair (again: not the case with Turkish Angora). Also the fact that the paws have no longer hair speaks in favor of the long hair gene being an adaptation to colder climate. Animals living in hotter desert conditions may have hair in their paws as protection against the hot ground.
The longhair domestic cat can be of any color or pattern. But to keep this coat beautiful it needs to be groomed daily by the cat’s owner. This kind of fur can become very easily matted, so daily brushing and combing with a de-matting comb is required. It is also preferable to wash the cat every few weeks. This is easier if the cat is taught to be washed from an early age. (If you try to teach an adult cat to be washed, be prepared for some wet and scratchy moments… If this proves to be completely impossible, at least stick to the brushing and combing routine)
And please – if the coat is badly matted, do not use scissors to cut it. It is very easy to cut the skin of the cat. Take the cat to a professional groomer of vet if the situation is bad. They have the means to remove the matted hair safely.
The domestic longhair cats shed their coat twice each year. First in spring the heavier winter coat gives way to a lighter summer coat, and when autumn comes, the summer coat is shed and the winter coat grows back again. It may look like this longhaired cat sheds more than shorthaired ones, but this is an illusion. The hairs are simply longer, so you see them easier. But short or long hair – proper vacuuming is in order weekly in a cat-family – all the more so if any allergic person is coming to visit. People who are allergic to cats are actually allergic to cat dander – the cat spreads this to its coat when it grooms itself. The longer the hairs, the more dander is around.
Did you know that cat hair is collected in many places to make pillows, scarves and clothes? One reason is that it is believed that cat hair alleviates the symptoms of rheumatism.
The domestic longhair cats are beautiful, but because of the grooming and house cleaning needs this is not a lazy owner’s cat.
I have seen domestic longhair cats in real life that lived in a household where no one wanted to brush them. You can guess how much hair was brushed out of them by a visitor who could not look at the situation any more... Poor cats seemed to lose half their weight, when the hairballs where brushed out… It must have hurt but they just purred, knowing someone was doing them a big favor.
Also if you are planning to let your cat roam freely outdoors, do think twice. Domestic longhair cats are best kept indoors, because if let out, their coat gets matted and dirty fast. And if this happens, they may get stuck in bushes and other places and hurt themselves trying to tear themselves free. If in this process they cut themselves, the matted fur probably is full of bacteria which may cause bad infections.
Because of its genetic diversity the longhair domestic cat is usually quite healthy. You can expect to have this feline friend around 12-20 years (if kept indoors – outdoor cats live about one third of this).
Because of its ancestry the personalities of domestic longhairs can vary greatly, but for the most part they are kind and affectionate family cats.
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