Is an American Shorthair the Right Breed for You?

If you aren’t familiar with pedigreed cats, you may be under the impression that the American Shorthair is a fancy name for an alley cat. However, the American Shorthair, which was called the Domestic Shorthair until the nineteen sixties, is a pedigreed cat that meets a specific standard.

These cats, which are classified as a part of the Championship Class by the Cat Fancier’s Association, are on the large side, weighing in at eight to fifteen pounds. The Shorthair has a wide face with prominent cheeks and a powerful well muscled body. His tail is slightly thicker at the base than at the tip and is shorter than his body. His eyes are big and have an alert expression.

While tabbies are probably the most common Shorthair patterns, cats with self, tortie, smoke, and bicolors patterns are also available. The striking silver tabby color has been popular since one of these gorgeous cats was the winner of the nineteen sixty five United States Cat of the Year Award. However, the tortise shell and white cat, also known as a Calico is also quite popular.

The American Shorthair actually is a descendant of the European Shorthair. As this breed adapted to life in the United States, it developed a heavier, coarser coat to protect it from the bitter American winters. In addition, the American Shorthair is a bit larger than its ancestor, because of the many dangers the breed faced when it first arrived from Europe.

The American Shorthair is usually a mild mannered, quiet cat, although it can be a fairly formidable hunter of mice and other small rodents. Since this cat breed is quite content to curl up on the sofa, it is an ideal breed for apartment living. These cats are often tolerant of children and other pets, as long as they are not mishandled, which makes the American Shorthair breed a good choice for a family looking for a pet cat.

Since any cat that met the American Shorthair breed standard could originally be registered as a pedigreed American Shorthair, the breed did not suffer from the inbreeding that caused so many hereditary health conditions in other breeds. Of course, as the breed developed, unpedigreed cats could no longer be registered just because they resembled the American Shorthair.

Since this breed is not very active and already tends to be a bit on the large side, you may want to keep an eye on your cat’s weight. If he eats too much, you may have to stop offering unlimited amounts of dry food. You may also need to consult your veterinarian about feeding a weight control diet.

While American Shorthair cats do not have problems with matted coats, grooming is still important, as it helps cut down on shedding. You may want to accustom your kitten to having his teeth brushed, as well, since as cats age, they can develop severe dental problems if their teeth are not cared for properly.

If you want a cat that is an undemanding but enjoyable pet, then the American Shorthair may be the ideal choice for you.

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4 Responses

  1. Steve
    | Reply

    “Phoebe” is our American Shorthair and we love her. She’s a red tabby mackerel pattern, five years of age. Female “reds” while not extremely rare, are hard to come by since both parents must be red. The mottled coloration was a surprise when we fetched her from the breeder; we expected more a “Morris” pattern. Of note, Phoebe has an ‘8’ pattern on either torso side – and a “Thor’s Hammer” design on her upper back and neck area. It must mean she’s got a Scandinavian cousin or two.

    Probably the most affectionate cat we’ve ever had, Phoebe takes no greater pleasure than to sit next to master or mistress, chirring lightly in a semi-nap. We did not declaw her which, in repayment, she has extremely good claw manners. She never has bared them to us although she has caught two mice with them. Easy on furniture and draperies, I think it shows that cats are in touch with their bodies and only ask a chance to show good behavior.

    We’ve never played rough with her, and Phoebe turned out to be serene and soft-natured. However she will go after a toy or a catnip teaser with gusto. Occasionally, she gets wound up and zooms about our home, but then needs a good sleep to recreate herself.

    You’re right: she is a “chow hound.” At one point she weighed FIFTEEN pounds at which time she went on a diet. She took the ordeal with flying colors and no longer has her big “gondola.”

    Of significant note: Phoebe seldom produces furballs. I can count the number of times she has done so over five years, on five fingers. Our other cats were prodigious “huckketta-hukketta” types, and so this cat’s lack of upchuck was a worry early on. Now, we know it’s just her nature.

    This is THE cat for tranquility, smarts, and affection. Phoebe is the nicest feline my wife and I have owned over almost 40 years of marriage. We highly recommend the breed to anyone who’s willing to give as much love in return as this cat will in the first place.

    Steve in PA

  2. HART (1-800-HART)
    | Reply

    Thanks Steve!

    I feel like Phoebe is sitting right next to me 🙂

    Thanks for sharing! And, I’m sure other cat lovers interested in this breed also thank you too!

    Take care. // HART

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