ALL CAT BREED PROFILES

American Shorthair: Good for Both Pest and Blood Pressure Control

american-shorthair-cat lying down
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Are you currently dealing with a pest infestation in your house? Your first thought might be to get a cat to deal with it, but in reality, cats—especially those that have enjoyed a domestic lifestyle as lap cats for a long time—are quite lazy and may not live up to their reputation as efficient hunters. But the same cannot be said for the American Shorthair.

The American Shorthair started out as working cats, and they haven’t lost their zeal even though they have long since become one of the most popular domestic cat breeds in the US. They don’t let the fame get to their head; they are easy-going and relaxed, which makes them a suitable companion for people of all ages and a good addition to homes with children and other pets. Compared to other cat breeds, American Shorthair lifespan is quite long. They are also very healthy.

Camerican-shorthair-cat lying down

In this article, you will find all the information a new owner should know about this breed. From origins, appearance, grooming requirements, to their personality and eating habits, by the time you’re done with this article, there will be no more doubt in your mind that you have found a lifelong companion in this breed.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Low maintenance

  • Health: Excellent

  • All Around Friendliness: Very good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Natural
SizeMedium to Large
Weight8 - 15 pounds
Lifespan15 - 20 years

Settlers from Europe didn’t arrive alone in America; they brought cats with them so they could hunt mice and rats on ships and help them preserve their stocks of food. Later, on land, these cats proved their value again; every store and household needed a cat to keep their food safe from mice, rats, and other vermin.

These shorthairs were solidly built and hardworking, which helped them adapt to the harsh conditions of a new continent. These cats were the ancestors of the breed as we know it today. In 1906, they were recognized by the Cats Fanciers Association as a breed and were called the Domestic Shorthair.

Two American Shorthair cats sitting on old wood shelf

Later in 1966, the breed was given a new name—American Shorthair—to reinforce the fact that this is an American breed. Also, this name was used to make the distinction between this pedigreed breed and random-bred short-haired cats that have a similar appearance.

The American Shorthair has a very muscular body. They can range in size from medium to large, and male cats are always larger than the females. Their head is oblong with short ears and big round eyes. Their short and dense coat comes in many different colors and patterns. These cats are fairly easy to maintain.

American Shorthair personality is synonymous with a calm and easygoing nature. Although this cat is a professional hunter, they also excel at providing comfort and companionship to their owner. This breed is social and gets along well with older children that will not pull on their whiskers. They also have no problem forming a bond with other pets and strangers.

American shorthair cat is sitting and looking forward

Although they are affectionate towards their owners, they are not attention-seeking cats. They love to interact with people but don’t be surprised if your American Shorthair finds ways to entertain themselves.

This breed is very smart and easy to train if started from a young age. It is easy to teach them to stick to their scratching post instead of your couch. And because they are highly intelligent, they enjoy playing with puzzle toys.

Thanks to their ancestors, they are great hunters, and if they are allowed outside, they will have no difficulties finding a meal. If they are indoor-only cats, they will spend their time watching birds through the window.

american short hair cat crouch on brown wood floor

The American Shorthair is generally healthy. But as with any other cat, they are prone to feline diseases. Regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, deworming, spaying/neutering, and proper dental care are a must to keep this long-living breed healthy throughout their lifespan.

Main Highlights

  • This breed was brought to America by the settlers because of their hunting abilities. They are also known as a working cat.

  • These cats were first recognized as a breed in 1906, and they were known as the Domestic Shorthair, but the name was changed to American Shorthair in 1966 to distinguish them from all the other short-haired mixed breeds.

  • The American Shorthair is a robust cat, with short ears, a round head, and big, round eyes.

  • Their fur comes in a variety of different colors, but they are most famous for their silver fur with black markings.

  • The American Shorthair has an undercoat which makes them prone to shedding. It requires brushing two times a week.

  • This breed is calm, easy going, friendly towards children, strangers, and other pets.

  • These quiet cats are affectionate and loving towards their owner but are not overbearing or attention-seeking.

  • They are highly intelligent and enjoy playing with puzzles and other toys. They like to play with their owners but also can play alone.

  • Because of their genes, they are great hunters, and given the chance, the American Shorthair is more than capable of providing for themselves.

  • In comparison to other breeds, the American Shorthair has excellent health and can live for up to 20 years.

Breed History

The roots of this breed began in England, where the ancestors of the American Shorthair were the common house cats. They were valued because they were hardworking cats who kept houses rodent-free. It’s no wonder that the Pilgrims who embarked on a journey from Plymouth to the New World in 1620 brought their beloved felines with them to protect their stocks from mice and rats on the ship.

After arriving in America, these cats prove their value once again on land. Soon, every household, farm, and store had cats to help keep the rodent population under control. The breed as we know it today was shaped by many factors—mostly external factors from the environment and outcrossing that happened both naturally and by human involvement. Adaptability and natural selection played a big roll in forming the breed as we know it today—namely, strong, hardworking, easygoing, and friendly.

cute american shorthair cat kitten

By 1895, these cats had obtained enough appreciation that they were shown on the first cat show in the United States. In 1906 they were formally acknowledged as a breed by the Cat Fanciers Association. And in 1966 the breed was renamed into the American Shorthair so they would be discerned from random breeds of short-haired cats who could also be described as a domestic shorthair.

Size

The American Shorthair is a medium to large cat with a sturdy body. As with other breeds, males are larger and weigh from 11 to 15 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh from 8 to 12 pounds. They are powerful and muscular cats known for their endurance.

Personality and Character

American Shorthair cats are calm, friendly, easygoing, affectionate, and devoted to their owner—which makes this breed a good companion for people of all ages and households with children and other pets. This breed is quiet and adaptable; they will not cry for attention from their owner.

The American Shorthair is not the right breed for people who want an active cat who will run around the house. And although they are affectionate, they are not overbearing. An American Shorthair will let their owner know when it’s time for cuddling, but they will not force themselves upon others.

American Shorthair Cat Sitting In Pose

This breed is moderately active and enjoys playtime like all the other cats. Unlike most other cats, however, this breed doesn’t need their owner to play with them all the time. They are very capable of entertaining themselves. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t like to get involved in play interactions with people.

This is a highly intelligent breed who enjoys playing with puzzle toys and interactive toys that mimic hunting. Because they are very smart, these cats are easy to train, if you start at a young age. It is easy to teach an American Shorthair to perch on their cat climbing tree instead of shelves and to scratch their post instead of the carpet.

Health and Potential Health Problems

This breed is generally healthy, and with proper care, an American Shorthair’s lifespan can stretch to over 20 years long. Like any other cat, they should go to regular vet appointments, have proper dental care, get neutered/spayed, vaccinated, and dewormed. This breed has the tendencies to develop Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, so before buying a cat from a breeder, ask if they were tested for this condition or not.

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease which affects the left ventricle and its ability to pump blood into the aorta. The left ventricle is thicker than the right one because it has to work harder to pump blood into the body. This condition often occurs in cats that are 5 to 7 years old, and most of the affected cats are male. The symptoms of this disease include a sudden loss of appetite, lethargy, weakened pulse, and difficulty breathing. Ultrasound is the best way to diagnose this condition, and it will help the vet rule out many other diseases as the cause of the symptoms. Cats with this condition are usually put on a sodium-restricted diet.

  • Feline Asthma is an allergic respiratory disease which is characterized by inflammation of the small airways in a cat’s lungs, which contract during the asthma attack, making it hard to breathe. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, and labored breathing. Usually, the cause of an asthma attack is some form of allergen, like pollen, mold, dust, perfumes, and sometimes food. Although there is no cure for this disease yet, cats suffering from this condition can lead normal lives if they are getting the proper treatment—namely bronchodilators for mild cases, and glucocorticosteroids with bronchodilators for more advanced cases.

  • Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm which is spread by mosquito bites. This parasite resides in lung arteries and the heart—causing damage to blood vessels and tissues. Symptoms of this disease include coughing, asthma-like attacks, vomiting, a distinct lack of appetite, and weight loss. This is serious and progressive disease, but testing a cat for this condition is fairly easy. The vet will take blood from the cat and send it to be tested. There is no approved therapy for heartworm in cats, so it is important that you focus on prevention. Your vet will tell you the appropriate dosage for your cat according to her weight.

  • Feline Roundworm is a parasite that is located in the gut of a cat. A cat can be infected with this parasite if they come in contact with infected fecal matter or soil, by licking paws, or by ingesting an infected rodent. Symptoms include vomiting, decreased appetite, and poor growth. This parasite can be fatal to kittens if it’s not noticed in time. Treatment includes a number of different deworming medications that will kill roundworms. Your vet will tell you the right dosage according to your cat’s weight. Infected cats are administered with that dosage in a two-week interval until they are worm-free.

Care Features

The American Shorthair is a moderately active cat that requires daily playtime during which they can interact with their owner. It is best to invest in puzzle toys, and if your cat is kept indoors only, you should buy them a cat tree and place it by the window so they can watch birds.

As with any other breed, the American Shorthair requires proper dental care. Their teeth should be brushed daily; to accustom your cat to this routine, it is best to start brushing the cat’s teeth while they are still young. If your cat is unaccustomed to a toothbrush, there are dental wipe and rinses that will keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy.

Purebred american shorthaired cat portrait at studio

This breed is particular about their bathroom hygiene, so it is important that you keep the litter box always clean, so your cat won’t use another part of your home for their needs. Check your cat’s ears every few weeks, and if they are dirty, use a solution of half cider vinegar and half warm water to clean the cat’s ears using a cotton ball.

Feeding Schedule

A healthy diet for an American Shorthair should consist of proteins and fat. They are very picky about their food, and if they don’t like it, they will go on a hunger strike. Before you buy any commercial food, read the labels carefully because this cat can become overweight by eating carbs.

It is up to you to find out if your cat prefers kibble or canned food. One more thing to consider—if you want to change your cat’s food, don’t do it abruptly. Chances are your cat will refuse to eat completely. In this situation, it is best to adjust your cat to the new food by offering small amounts of it in a one week period.

american short hair kitten

The American Shorthair enjoys eating small meals throughout the day, so it is advised that you provide them with access to food all the time. You can leave half of the food out in the morning and give your cat the other half for dinner. Don’t exaggerate with treats; a few times a week is enough. Otherwise, it can interfere with their diet. Also, always provide unlimited access to fresh water for your cat.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

This breed has a short, thick coat that comes in more than 80 different colors and patterns. Silver tabby is the most famous variation of the American Shorthair’s coat, but they also can be brown-pack tabby, solid, calico, tortoiseshell, bicolor, parti-color, and many more. Their dense coat is prone to mild shedding, and it needs brushing two times a week to remove any matted hair and dirt.

American Shorthair cat being held at cat show

If your cat is allowed to venture outside, bathe her once a month or more often if necessary. This can be helpful during the shedding season because the hair will loosen and be easier to groom.

If your cat has any eye discharge, use a wet cloth to remove it from corners of their eyes. An American Shorthair’s claws need to be trimmed every few weeks. If you are not sure that you are able to trim your cat’s claws, take them to a vet or a groomer.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

This calm and friendly breed is a perfect companion for homes with kids. They enjoy playing with children who are considerate towards them. They also get along very well with cat-friendly dogs and other pets. Just keep in mind that this breed has a strong hunting instinct, so if you have birds, it is best to introduce your cat to them from a young age or keep their cage somewhere where an American Shorthair can’t practice their hunting skills on them.

Wrap Up

American Shorthair cats are pleasant to be around; they are a great mix of gentle affection and quiet independence. On top of that, with a variety of different colors and patterns and an overall pleasant appearance, it is no wonder why this cat is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Additionally, American Shorthair cats are long-living and healthy; it gives their owners plenty of time to enjoy the company of this amazing cat.

American Shorthair cat getting rest in a cat tree

Are you in awe of the American Shorthair’s impressive hunting instinct? Or do you find a cat’s ability to hold their own less important than the gentle companionship and utmost adoration some cats offer to their owner? If you are a proud owner of an American Shorthair or if you plan to adopt one, share your experiences with us and our readers in the comments section below.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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