One of the best mousers around, the American Shorthair cat is more than just a great hunter. Friendly and sociable, they love interactive playtime but they’ll also happily snuggle on your lap which makes them the ideal pet for both young and old.
The American Shorthair is a medium to large, lean cat with a hardy build which is a carryover from their working class heritage. Females are usually slightly smaller but still possess many of the same physical attributes as the males, with a well-padded and muscular body.
The head of an American Shorthair is large with full cheeks, creating an oval shape just slightly longer than it is wide. The upper portion of the eyes are a half almond shape, while the lower lid is more of a rounded curve with colours ranging from green to copper. A well-bred American Shorthair will have low set pointed ears.
There are 80 different variations of colours and patterns for the American Shorthair which range from cameo, calico, and tabby, with many colours in between. While there are many looks to choose from, the favourite among American Shorthair owners appears to be the silver classic tabby with dense black markings.
The ancestor of the American Shorthair is thought to have been English domestic cats who travelled over on ships as a true working breed of cat to keep valuable cargo safe from mice and rats. These cats were the forebears of today’s British Shorthairs, of which the American Shorthair is a cousin. Records for these working cats date back as far as 1620, when the Mayflower made its voyage to the United States.
When landing on American shores the cats continued to work for their humans, and during the Californian gold rush, miners would pay good money for cats who could keep the rat population under control. As pest controllers they spent the majority of their time outside and adapted to the cold and harsh environment by developing a short lush coat with a thick undercoat over successive generations.
During the 1800’s the cats were known as Shorthairs right up until 1906, when the Cat Fanciers’ Association labelled them as the Domestic Shorthair. It wasn’t until 1965 that they were finally designated as the American Shorthair.
The American Shorthair is an even-tempered, sociable cat who will get on well with the young and old. They will often seek out the company of children in the household for a little interactive play, or a snuggle during nap time. This friendly cat also tends to get on well with other pets in the home.
With great imaginations, you’ll often see the Amercian Shorthair chasing imaginary prey; possibly as a throwback to their mouse hunting days. So don’t be alarmed if you see your Amercian Shorthair inexplicably romping down the hallway, staring at the floor for a few minutes, and then romping back the way it came; this is completely natural behaviour. Entertaining themselves in this way is something they can do for hours but they also enjoy active playtime chasing and pawing at hanging toys or feathers.
Did You Know?
The name change to Domestic Shorthair was an attempt for breeders to have their cats recognised as a breed specifically developed in America, and to distinguish them from imported run-of-the-mill domestic cats. However, this proved to be a mistake and a breed of such high standing was soon lumped in with domestic cats of no real pedigree.
The name change to American Shorthair was needed in order to distinguish it from the random breeds one might see throughout the neighbourhood. This change proved successful as the Amercian Shorthair gained the coveted Cat of the Year award in 1965.
Caring for Your American Shorthair Cat
This is an easy going, low maintenance breed. Their shorthaired coat doesn’t mat, so grooming requirements are minimal.
The American Shorthair is also a relatively healthy breed, on average they live 15-20 years. Heart disease can be an inherited problem with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) confirmed as an autosomal dominant inherited trait. There is no cure but an early diagnosis will allow medication to prolong your cat’s life.
Because it originated as a working cat the Amercian Shorthair should be given some outside time in an enclosed environment. A fully kitted out cat gym where the cat can hone its hunting skills is also highly recommended. This breed generally do not adapt well to life in an apartment, unless the space has been designed with the cat’s needs in mind.
If you have an American Shorthair cat in your life, please share your experiences below.