Origin: North America
Type: Standard / Mixed breed
Size: Medium to large
Coat Length: Short hair
Body Type: Semi-cobby
Appearance: The American Shorthair is a medium to large-sized cat with an athletic and muscular body. However it can take three to four years for the breed to mature completely. The males usually weigh from 4.5 to almost 7kg and the females between 3.5 to 5.5kg. Shorthairs have a dense short coat and come in over eighty different colours and patterns. Their ears have rounded tips and are medium in size. The eyes are proportionate to the head and their colour depends on the colour and pattern of the cats coat.
Grooming Requirement: Not a lot grooming is needed (every few weeks).
Activity Level: Fairly low
Affection: Moderately affectionate
Time Alone: 8 hours a day
Attention: Need average attention.
Temperament: American Shorthairs are easy going and affectionate cats. They will adjust to a variety of home environments and are less hungry for attention than other breeds. If you are looking for a quiet pet to sit in your lap the American Shorthair may suit you well. They do have their playful side however and they’re good hunters; don’t be surprised if you see a “present” on your doormat.
Interesting Facts: Shorthairs love to watch from high places. You may spot your Shorthair observing you from on top of the fridge or a high shelf. Their voice is quiet but they have a very loud purr.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Children: Like most cats this is an ideal choice as a family pet. They will behave well with other cat-friendly animals, especially if you make an effort to socialise them. This isn’t a problematic breed but you should still keep an eye when young children and cats are together.
Common Health Problems: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be an issue in some cases but Shorthairs are generally a naturally healthy and long lived breed.
Lifespan: Average 15 to 20 years.
The history of the American Shorthair goes back to the 17th century and the Mayflower. Common in Britain, Shorthairs were working cats used for residential rodent control and were often taken on ships to protect food storage from rodents and eliminate the threat of disease-carrying rats. Тhe first domesticated cats were brought to America by English explorers and settlers from 1621 to 1639. With the establishment of more communities, more cats were imported to control the rodent population. Records show that Shorthairs were brought to Pennsylvania in 1749 to control a severe rat plague. Beautiful and affectionate, the Shorthairs flourished among pioneers and were valued for their companionship as much as for their ratting skills.
The American Shorthair bloodlines can be traced to a number of cats of the same breed originating from different countries, so they remained pure-bred until the 1900s when other cats were imported. In an attempt to prevent dilution of the Shorthairs’ blood lines and to refine the gentle expression, lovable disposition, and beautiful colours which characterise the breed, a number of cat fanciers picked fine specimens of Shorthairs and started the practice of selective breeding.
In 1904, an American-born male smoke, called Buster Brown was the first registered Domestic Shorthair and in 1906, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) gave official recognition to the American Shorthair (called Domestic Shorthair at the time) among five other cat breeds. In 1966, the name was changed to American Shorthair to distinguish this purposefully-bred cat from random-bred and mixed-bred cats that my resemble the American Shorthair.
By standards, American Shorthairs have a sturdy build, well-balanced body, strong-boned legs, and a round head with a powerful jawline, large, wide eyes and ears slightly rounded at the corners. The coat is short and comes in more than 80 varieties of colours and patterns: solid, tabby, calico, tortoiseshell, bicolour, parti colour and more. Shorthairs are adaptable and blend perfectly into families with children and other pets. Soft-spoken and mild-tempered, they make great companions and game partners for children. Shorthairs are affectionate and loyal, but not needy of attention. These calm felines are moderately active and flat or house living suits them fine. They like watching birds from window sills and will practise their hunting instincts on insects and anything else that ventures into the house.
Health Descendant from farm cats, American Shorthairs have few health issues, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy being the most prominent and serious one, and usually enjoy a long healthy life with the basics: being kept indoors, spayed or neutered, and provided suitable scratching surfaces. Declawing or tendonectomy surgery are discouraged by feline health organisations. Over the years, care in the breeding selection has contributed to American Shorthairs’ long life expectancy of 15-20 years. They need routine visits to the vet, regular vaccinations and a balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight.
Generally healthy, American Shorthairs don’t have any specific dietary needs or requirements. Feed them a well-balanced diet and measure food portions to prevent excessive weight gain. You can switch between canned and dry food as long as it’s high in quality protein. Ensure a diversity as some American Shorthairs can be fussy eaters.
These intelligent and playful felines need plenty of physical and mental activity. If you’re raising them as indoor cats, ensure enough exercise to prevent obesity and depression. Moderately active, American Shorthairs won’t be seen bouncing off furniture and walls; they would rather chase balls or simply play with a crumpled piece of paper. Inquisitive and good problem-solvers by nature, the sweet Shorthairs will be happy to engage in creative, mentally stimulating activities, so provide them with puzzle and interactive cat toys. American Shorthairs are trainable and can be taught some basic commands, such as “come” and “fetch”. Unlike many other breeds, Shorthairs like water and enjoy playing in it.
American Shorthairs’s can be kept to a minimum by combing or brushing once or twice every week. Use a metal comb or rubber brush, not plastic ones, as they can break the coat. You can also use a chamois cloth to pull out loose hair and keep the coat clean and glossy. When buying a chamois, make sure it hasn’t been treated with soap or other chemicals. An American Shorthar doesn’t typically need to be bathed unless it’s going to participate in a show or has got dirty. If you’re giving the cat a bath because it has got dirty, use only cat shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Towel dry, comb through the coat when it’s almost dried to remove loose hair and always keep the cat in a warm room until the coat is competently dry. Consult a groomer for show baths, as they have special shampoos, conditioners and treatments.