Angela Westfall
Your guide to this article today is by cat expert Angela Westfall
Published 14:04 pm

The engaging feline star of the Jim Davis cartoons and films is known throughout the world. Garfield was actually named after Davis’ grandfather, James Garfield Davis, who in turn was named after President James A. Garfield. This ginger tabby is a little chubby and very cynical – he dishes out a unique blend of smugness and sarcasm. His life revolves around lasagna, pizza and ice cream and taking naps. He is no big fan of Mondays or any kind of exercise!

The much-loved fictional character was born in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant but thanks to his huge appetite he had to leave and was passed on to a pet shop. From here was adopted by the slightly eccentric Jon Arbuckle and his life of mischief making began. His hilarious escapades have included getting stuck in some roll-up shades and getting locked in an animal shelter. A lot of his comedy is based on his relationship with his weight and his talking electronic scale. Many of his insults are directed at his owner and Odie, the dog with whom he shares his home. The love of Garfield’s life (apart from pizza) is his treasured teddy bear called Pooky.

So, that’s what you probably know already about Garfield but have you ever wandered what kind of cat is Garfield? Perhaps, you want to have your own Garfield kitty to share you home? Read on to find out more about the real-life cats that are the inspiration for this famous character.

Cat lying on the sofa

The Exotic Short Hair Cat Breed

So, what type of cat is Garfield? He is part of a breed of cats called the Exotic Short Hairs. Unlike the Garfield character, this adorable breed is extremely laid back but are also intelligent and playful. Again, unlike Garfield, they are not remotely grumpy. Instead, they are happy and affectionate and make lovely pets.

Breed History

The Garfield cat breed dates back to the 1970s when breeders crossed a Persian with a British Shorthair. The result was a huge success. The charming kittens had the Persian flat face but with a shorter and dense coat. By 1986, the breed was so popular that it was granted GCCF preliminary recognition and finally achieved championship status in 1995.

Breed Personality

The Exotic Short Hairs are very like dogs in many ways. They love to be with their owners and are likely to follow you from room to room. If you want a cat that shuns human company, this is not the breed for you! They love nothing more than to lie upside down like a baby in their owner’s arms.

They do have a mischievous side and a great sense of fun and will often have a ‘mad half hour’ that involves so much activity it would horrify Garfield! If you invite an Exotic Short Hairs to live with you, be prepared to invest in a lot of toys and games to keep them amused. They would also benefit from a climbing frame if you are intending on keeping them as an indoor cat.

Cat lying

Breed Appearance

The body shape of the Exotic Short Hairs is markedly similar to the Persians and British Shorthairs that they descended from. They have a broad body and strong legs with large round paws. Their tales are relatively short but they have large heads, wide eyes and small ears.

Of course, ginger tabby is one possible coat color but there are a staggering 140 colors to choose from! These include smoke, bi-color, tabby, tortie tabby, color-pointed and spotted. Their round eyes can be either blue or amber.

Breed Health

This breed can live up to 15 years and whilst they are not a high-maintenance breed, you will have to take some steps to look after them correctly. Their coat does molt so you will need to brush them with a soft brush every day. This will remove dead hair and therefore prevent hairballs and it also helps to distribute valuable natural skin oils. Whilst you are doing this, you can check for fleas and ticks in that thick coat. Their ears will need to be wiped gently with damp cotton wool once a week. Dental hygiene is also important and you should regularly brush their teeth and gums.

This is a healthy breed but their Persian and British Shorthair ancestors are prone to developing polycystic kidney disease (PKD) so you need to be aware of this. Before you buy a kitten, make sure that the breeder has screened their stock for this disease.

Also, they are a brachycephalous breed so they have a short nose and the nose and eyes will be very close to each other. Their tear ducts can overflow and, over time, this will stain their facial fur. You can help this by wiping their eyes with a soft cloth. You may also come across sinus problems with this breed and there can be tooth alignment issues because the jaw is short and the teeth can get crowded.

Because they have a short snout, this breed can find it harder to lose heat from the respiratory system and may be sensitive to hot temperatures. Watch out for breathing problems when ambient temperatures rise. The respiratory issues together with a heavy coat can cause them problems on a hot day. It may be useful to get a cooling mat or keep your kitty in a room that has AC.

Ginger cat sleeping

The Last Word

Garfield is a grumpy and cynical but ultimately likable character based on the Exotic Short Hair breed. Ironically, cats of this breed are actually friendly, playful and energetic which Garfield would not approve of at all. They are a lovely kitty with a gorgeous appearance and a loving temperament. This breed suffers few health issues and makes a wonderful pet – unlike Garfield who makes sarcastic comments about his poor owner! You’ll have to find out for yourself if your Exotic Short Hair likes pizza but it is certainly not a recommended cat food!

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Angela Westfall
Angela has fostered, adopted, screened and saved cats for over 15 years. She is known as one of Central Ohio’s most passionate and knowledgeable cat enthusiasts. Her rescue, Angels Assisting Felines has partnerships with PetSmart and PetSuppliesPlus to help more cats find great homes.

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