American Shorthair

All About The American Shorthair

Introduction/History

Known for their good looks and sweet personality, the American Shorthair is believed to be the descendant of cats first brought to America by European settlers. Even the Mayflower had several cats aboard to hunt rats. These working cats were a necessary part of life as pioneers moved across the country and settled it. By the end of the 19th century people became interested in selectively breeding some of the best representatives of these cats. In 1966 the breed was named the “American Shorthair” to distinguish it from other shorthaired cats and to separate it from random-bred street cats. (They were known at one time as “Domestic Shorthairs or DSH). American Shorthairs are known for their longevity, good health, and their ability to get along well with kids, dogs, and other pets. They are an especially gentle cat, easy-going, and low maintenance. They are one of the most popular cat breeds in the U.S.

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How To Recognize An American Shorthair

Coloring

American Shorthairs come in a wide range of colors: white, black, blue, red, cream, chinchilla silver, shaded silver, shell cameo, shaded cameo, black smoke, blue smoke, cameo smoke, tortoiseshell smoke, blue chinchilla silver, blue shaded silver, cream shell cameo, cream shaded cameo, blue cream smoke, smoke and white, black smoke and white, blue smoke and white, tortoiseshell smoke and white, shell cameo and white, a whole range of tabby colors, calico, diluted colors, and more. There are more than 80 colors and patterns recognized.

Weight/Size

The American Shorthair is a medium to large breed. Males are especially large and may weigh from 12 pounds and up. Adult females are less massive. They usually weigh between 8-12 pounds. Perhaps because of their size and large, dense bones, this is a slow-growing cat. They do not reach full size and maturity until they are 3-4 years of age.

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Distinctive Features

In addition to the wide range of colors seen in the American Shorthair, this is a very powerfully-built cat. They are not extremely athletic, though they do have a strong prey drive. But they are strong, robust cats. Their bodies are solid and muscular. Their heads are broad with a full face. They are strong jaws so they can catch prey. This is a breed that has been kept as a working cat for hundreds of years.

Temperament

In temperament the American Shorthair is loving and gentle, calm and devoted. They enjoy spending time with people. They are normally tolerant of children, dogs, and other pets. They don’t even mind most strangers. While they are sociable cats, they are still independent so your American Shorthair may seek out some quiet time, too. They are intelligent and curious. They enjoy watching birds from a window perch; and they will watch fish in an aquarium. They do have a strong prey drive so if you have a mouse in the house, your American Shorthair will probably enjoy hunting and catching it.

Most American Shorthairs are not very vocal and they have a soft voice when they do speak. They do purr loudly.

Living with an American Shorthair

Humans and American Shorthairs

American Shorthairs enjoy spending time with people. They are known for being easy-going cats so they usually get along well with everyone in the home. They like to cuddle but – like most cats – it should be their idea. They can be playful at times. It’s a good idea to provide your American Shorthair with plenty of toys, especially things to simulate prey. This is a breed that enjoys hunting. If you have an indoor cat it’s important to simulate hunter-prey situations for him. Toys such as feathers and things he can try to catch will be appreciated.

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Dogs and American Shorthairs

American Shorthairs usually get along well with friendly dogs. It’s always important to oversee these relationships, especially in the early days. Many times it’s easier to introduce a small puppy to an older cat since the cat will have the upper paw (so to speak). We do recommend that you keep your cat’s food out of reach of your dog. Most dogs will eat your cat’s food if they have the opportunity. You should also place your American Shorthair’s litter box in an area that your dog can’t reach. Many dogs have an unsavory habit of eating things out of the litter box when they can.

Other Cats and American Shorthairs

American Shorthairs usually enjoy the company of other cats. However, if you are introducing a new cat into your home, regardless of age, it may take some time for the cats to get to know each other and become friends. You can’t rush these relationships. Cats have to work out who has higher social status, which cat gets the best sleeping spots, and other important details. They will likely become friends eventually so just be patient.

Health

Common Health Problems

The American Shorthair is considered to be a very healthy breed. With good food, normal vet care, and plenty of love and attention at home, it’s not unusual for these cats to have very long lives.

Issues that can appear in the breed include hip dysplasia and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (the most common form of heart disease in cats). These are not considered to be common problems in the breed.

If there is one health problem that is common in the breed it is probably obesity. Many American Shorthairs are prone to gaining weight as they get older. You will need to watch your cat’s weight as he ages and make sure that he doesn’t put on too many extra pounds.

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Lifespan

American Shorthairs often live a long time. It’s not unusual for these cats to live to be 15 years old or older.

Pet Insurance for your American Shorthair

Considering the health of your American Shorthair and the cost of vet care today, you may want to investigate pet health insurance. This kind of health insurance allows you to have insurance in place in case your cat has an accident or has certain health problems. Instead of paying the full cost of expensive veterinary care, you would only pay a fraction. You can choose how much coverage you need and pick the plan that works for you and your cat. Veterinary health care can be expensive today so this is something to consider.

Diet and Nutrition

Cat experts and American Shorthair breeders generally recommend food with fresh meat or canned food without grains for these cats. You should obviously make sure the food has suitable Vitamin A and taurine, but this is true for all cats. All cats need plenty of meat protein in their food and we agree with these experts that a minimum of 40 percent protein (DMB) is suitable.

Some of the canned food brands recommended for American Shorthairs include Tiki Cat and Wellness CORE Grain Free Indoor Formula.

If you want to put down a dry food for your American Shorthair, in conjunction with the wet food, you could use Orijen dry cat food.

Be sure to encourage your American Shorthair to drink plenty of water, especially if you are putting down dry food.

Conclusion

The American Shorthair has been in the U.S. longer than just about any other kind of cat. They have the same history as the rest of us in this country. These easy-going, healthy, friendly cats make wonderful family pets. They are affectionate, playful, and they get along with everyone in the family. They also make a great companion for one person. They are beautiful, intelligent American cats. We can’t praise them enough or recommend them more highly.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a freelance writer and a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine, Dog News. She is the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com award-winner for 2013. Additionally, Carlotta is the author of Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Health and Happy, as well as other books about pets. She is a guest writer for numerous website and blogs and a frequent pet food reviewer.

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