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American Shorthair

American Shorthair
American Shorthair
Kitten

The American Shorthair is to North America what the British Shorthair is to England, and the European Shorthair to Continental Europe. These three breeds of short-haired cat developed by themselves and were favoured by humans as useful assistants for dealing with rats and mice. Eventually, humans brought them into their homes and, of course, their hearts. Although all three are likely to have common origins, each of them has a distinctive appearance and should not be confused. The American is no exception and their pedigree is as prestigious as any other breed of cat, even if Europe is a little slower to admit it!

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Key facts about the American Shorthair

  • Life expectancy : Between 13 and 15 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Intelligent
  • Type of coat : Short

Physical characteristics of the American Shorthair

Adult size

Female cat Between 12 and 14 in
Male cat Between 12 and 14 in

The American Shorthair can keep growing up to the age of 3 to 4 years.

Weight

Female cat Between 7 and 11 lb
Male cat Between 9 and 15 lb

Coat colour

Black, blue, red, cream, white, silver, golden.

All colours are possible except for those that make up a colourpoint pattern.

Coat patterns

Solid / plain, tabby / striped, bicolour, calico

Type of coat

Short

Eye colour

Harmonised with the coat

Description

The American Shorthair is built for hunting, in conditions that are often cold, wet and difficult. They are medium in size, half athletic, half stocky, and have a strong chest (particularly the tomcats). They have a robust musculature but an average bone structure. They are neither perfectly slender nor perfectly rectangular. Their paws, tail and head are all well proportioned. They are said to be mid-length semi-cobby type cats.

Their head is broad and square, their rounded eyes are slightly slanted and quite spaced out, and their medium-sized ears have rounded tips and are positioned twice as far apart as their eyes - altogether they have a gentle and soft look, which is very characteristic of the breed.

Finally, their coat is lustrous and thick and provides real protection against bad weather and minor superficial wounds.

Temperament

Affectionate

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These cats love to be stroked and are extremely affectionate.

Playful

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Since hunting is in these cats’ genes, they would love to play all day, but moderately. Fishing rod-type toys, and ones that allow them to play at chasing by themselves, will be great for keeping them on top form.

Calm

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Patient and measured, the American Shorthair is normally very calm - characteristic of a hunter!

Intelligent

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These cats are alert and lively - two characteristics that are necessary for a good hunter. They are intelligent too, a trait they have inherited from their ancestors, who needed to be resourceful in order to survive.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Usually pretty sociable, American Shorthairs adapt to new people quite easily. But that will of course depend on the cat’s own personality!

Independent

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This breed is more sociable than independent.

Behaviour of the American Shorthair

Chatty

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The American Shorthair isn’t very talkative, except perhaps for their purr.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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Given their predisposition to a little extra weight, daily exercise is important for these cats. This exercise will be equally beneficial to their mental health, as it will satisfy their need to chase things.

Tendency to run away

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Being curious in nature, and primarily an outdoor cat, the American Shorthair is likely to have a desire to explore their surroundings. But of course some individuals will be particularly happy inside and won’t want to leave!

Greedy / Gluttony

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Since they’re a little greedy, these kitties have a slight tendency to be overweight, which is good to keep an eye on.

Compatibility

American Shorthair and cats

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Being very sociable, they will be very accommodating to the presence of other cats.

American Shorthair and dogs

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Their flexible character means they are good at acclimatising to dogs in the house, as long as you give them enough time.

American Shorthair and children

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Originally selected for their familial character, American Shorthairs will usually get on well with children.

American Shorthair and the elderly

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They can easily suit a calmer person. It’s a case of choosing an individual whose character will fit with the human in question. But in general, they make the perfect domestic cat!

Price

Depending on their pedigree, an American Shorthair will be more expensive. We do not have enough data to set an average price for an American shorthair cat. For your monthly budget, less than £25 will be enough.

Grooming

Their grooming is simple, you will just need to brush them a bit more regularly during moulting periods.

Hair loss

Hair loss in this breed is moderate, with a slight increase during moults when the seasons change.

Nutrition of the American Shorthair

They need a balanced and high-quality diet, which will allow them to stay in good health, without gaining too much weight. A decent amount of daily exercise should be combined with their diet.

Health of the American Shorthair

Life expectancy

Like the vast majority of cats, they live for an average of 13 to 15 years, but some lines may have an even longer life expectancy, stretching to 18 to 20 years.

Strong / robust

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Being an indigenous breed to North America, they adapt easily to cold, wet climates.

Tendency to put on weight

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You’ll need to be vigilant with their diet and exercise, as these kitties are very prone to obesity, particularly when they have been sterilised.

Common illnesses

While they are a very robust breed, unfortunately they aren’t completely safe from the pathologies seen in domestic cats. Their adventurous side takes them on lots of outdoor excursions, meaning it is advisable to have them vaccinated and dewormed, as well as monitoring for external parasites in line with your vet’s advice.

  • Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes thickening (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle, may be more common in American Shorthairs although this can occur in all cats.

Reproduction

The American Shorthair, outside of their own breed, can be paired with the American Wirehair, which is actually just an American Shorthair, only with coarse fur.

Good to know

The American Shorthair is said to have an easygoing character and love everyone. The presence of other animals is usually not a problem for them, but do watch out for animals that they might see as prey! Their instinct, which can be very strong, may curtail the lives of rabbits, domestic rats, hamsters and birds... especially if their cage isn’t very strong, or perhaps non-existent... The good news, however, is there are likely very few insects in the house!

Origins and history

The ancestors of the American Shorthair arrived in the New World at the same time as the first settlers, coming from all over Europe. Initially used as vermin controllers on the boats of explorers and merchants, they adapted their job to the extermination of rats and mice in barns, attics, mines and all other human settlements in America. For many centuries, natural selection has favoured individuals with the best hunting skills, and those who are the most robust and resistant to the living conditions of North America. This makes them a naturally-occurring breed.

Eventually, the farmers chose to favour not only the most efficient hunters, but also those with the nicest temperament and the prettiest colours. At the time, they were known as the Domestic Shorthair.

At the beginning of the 20th century, breeders wanted to preserve the typical American cat, which was at risk of disappearing in favour of other breeds of short-haired cats. Surprisingly, the first recognised American Shorthair was English, and was crossed with a British Shorthair. Other crosses were also made in the early 1900s, but these are now banned. The breed has been known as the American Shorthair since 1966 and it is now one of the 10 most popular breeds in the United States, Canada and Japan. However, they are still rare in Europe, where some associations still refuse to recognise them as a breed.

Names

Good names for an American shorthair cat: Alix, Echo, Misty, Roger

Find out name ideas for your cat here