American Shorthair Cat

Best Cat Food for American Shorthairs

The ancestors of the American Shorthair were likely the first cats brought to this country by European settlers. Even the pilgrims on the Mayflower brought over several cats on the ship as mousers. The cats brought to America by colonists were sturdy, hardy, working cats who earned their keep on farms and as household cats as the settlers moved west.

By the end of the 19th century, fanciers became interested in selectively breeding the cats and chose some of the best representatives as a start. Originally known as the “Domestic Shorthair” (DSH), the name was changed to the American Shorthair in 1966. American Shorthairs are medium to large cats that come in over 80 colors and patterns. They are known for being sweet, gentle, easy-going cats that normally get along with children and other pets, including friendly dogs. This is a low-maintenance breed known for its good health and longevity. They are one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. today.

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Shorthair Diet & Nutrition

We realize that many cat lovers like the idea of feeding a raw food diet. However, this kind of diet is not easy for everyone to follow. Most people still feed their cats commercial cat food. However, even if you feed your American Shorthair a commercial diet, you can make sure that you feed a good quality food.

As with all cats, we recommend that you choose food for your American Shorthair that is AAFCO- (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved. AAFCO is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies. While AAFCO is not perfect, at least it provides some minimum standards for pet foods and labeling.

As far as specifics, here are some things you should look for in a good cat food:

  • Named meats
  • Avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Low carbs

Meat protein is very important for all cats. For this reason we do not automatically discount some cat foods that use meat by-products, especially if they are low in carbohydrates. This is different from the way dog foods are usually evaluated. With dog foods, meat by-products are often considered a lower quality ingredient. However, as obligate carnivores, cats have such a need for meat protein that many experts are willing to overlook this fact in order for cats to get the meat protein they need in their diet.

Many cat owners today prefer wet (canned or similar) foods over dry foods. Cats often have urinary tract diseases which are worsened by dry foods and not drinking enough water. Wet/canned foods provide much more moisture in the cat’s diet. However, there are some situations where you might prefer to feed a dry cat food or it fits better with your lifestyle. In these situations, make sure that you are providing your cat with plenty of fresh water. It’s often a good idea to provide an automatic waterer, especially the fountain type, since the running water seems to encourage cats to drink more water.

Common Health Problems Related To Food

American Shorthairs are an exceptionally healthy breed. They can have issues with hypdysplasia and with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (the most common form of heart disease in cats), but these problems are not considered common in the breed.

If there is a common health problem in American Shorthairs, it’s probably obesity. While American Shorthairs have a high prey drive, they are not extremely athletic cats. Living indoors, as many pet cats do today, they do not have an opportunity to stay fit by hunting prey as their ancestors did. Cats in this breed are prone to gaining weight, especially as they get older. Obesity is one of the health problems most frequently seen in cats today. Many middle-aged cats today (often between 5-10 years of age) gain weight, have excess body fat, and get very little exercise. This is especially true for spayed/neutered cats and indoor cats. Cats simply eat more food than they can use up with their energy requirements. This can be caused by overfeeding, by leaving down food for free feeding at all times, by feeding high-calorie foods, and by giving high-calorie treats, along with lack of exercise.

There can be other causes of obesity but in most cases cats become obese because they are eating more calories than they can use. If your American Shorthair is overweight or obese, he should be encouraged to lose weight. A weight loss diet for cats typically relies on higher protein and fiber with lower fat. You can also encourage your cat to get more exercise.

Obesity can lead to serious health problems for cats so this condition should be addressed. It can reduce your cat’s lifespan, affect his bones and joints, digestive organs, and his ability to breathe properly.

Obesity in cats can also lead to diabetes mellitus. Symptoms of this form of diabetes include: constant hunger, weight loss, increased urination, and increased consumption of water. It can affect any cat but it is most common in older, obese cats. Male cats are more susceptible than females. Left untreated, this disease will shorten your American Shorthair’s lifespan. It can be treated in several ways, depending on the severity of the condition, but there is no cure. Getting your cat’s weight under control usually helps a great deal.

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Carrying extra weight will also worsen any tendency toward hip dysplasia and arthritis, if your American Shorthair should be inclined to these problems.

Cats can also develop urine crystals and bladder stones which appear to be related to their diet in some cases. In male cats crystals may plug the urethra, which can become a life-threatening condition because it prevents the cat from urinating. In other cats, stones develop somewhere along the urinary tract (kidneys, bladder, urethra, etc.). Stones can also cause an obstruction and prevent the cat from urinating. Some cats may strain and pass blood when trying to urinate. The crystals and stones are formed by minerals in the cat’s urine. The cat’s diet is believed to play a role in the development of the crystals and stones since they are more likely to develop in urine that is alkaline.

Struvite crystals are made up of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate. The crystals and stones are more likely to develop in alkaline urine. The main dietary factors which appear to affect the development of struvite crystals are urine ph and water consumption. In the past, crystals and stones made of struvite were more common in cats. As a result, diets were developed to minimize the risk of forming struvite. These diets were low in magnesium and cats eating them produced an acidic (low pH) urine. As more cats were fed these diets, both for treatment and prevention of struvite, the percentage of cats with struvite stones decreased, but the incidence of calcium oxalate crystals and stones increased. Struvite is still, by far, the most common component of urethral plugs.

If you suspect your American Shorthair is at risk of forming crystals or stones, there are special diets available so you can change the pH of the food you are feeding. One thing that all cat owners can do to help prevent the formation of crystals and stones is to make sure their cat is drinking plenty of water. Drinking more water keeps urine less concentrated. It encourages your cat to pee more often so the urine will stay in the urinary tract for shorter periods of time, meaning there is less chance of crystals collecting.


American Shorthair Eating Habits

It’s important to always have fresh, clean water available for your American Shorthair.

You can typically feed an American Shorthair kitten that is three-months-old three small meals per day. This can be reduced to two meals per day by the time the kitten is six months of age but you should be increasing the amount of food. Remove any food that is not eaten after about 10 minutes. This is particularly true with wet/canned food. Any food left sitting in the floor will soon go rancid. Overfeeding and free feeding, in general, can lead to obesity in cats.

Best Cat Food For American Shorthairs

Most American Shorthairs will thrive on good food. They don’t usually have any particular health-related problems that should affect their diet. However, it’s always important to watch your cat’s weight and condition. If your cat begins to gain weight (or lose weight), that can be a sign of a change in his health and he should see a veterinarian. Becoming overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems for your American Shorthair so you might need to change his food or cut back on his portions. While many American Shorthairs live very long lives, it’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about changes in your cat’s eating habits, weight, physical condition, or behavior.

Best Food For Adult American Shorthairs

Research shows that adult cats need a minimum of 26 percent protein in their diet (dry matter basis). Many good quality cat foods will have a much higher percentage of protein. In the wild or living as a feral, a cat would eat 50-60 percent protein in their diet and around 25 percent fat, from catching live food. We have suggested some foods for adult American Shorthairs that approach these figures. We think these foods are suitable for active young adult American Shorthairs.

Food Price Nutrition Rating
Orijen Regional Red (dry) Cat FoodOrijen Regional Red (dry) Cat Food
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$5.50/lb A+ 5 stars
Instinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble For Cats Chicken FormulaInstinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble For Cats Chicken Formula
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$4.50/lb A 5 star
Smalls for Smalls Fresh Turkey PateSmalls for Smalls Fresh Turkey Pate
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Varies A+ 5 stars
Wellness Complete Health (canned) Turkey& Salmon recipeWellness Complete Health (canned) Turkey& Salmon Recipe
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$2.83/12.5 oz can A+ 5 stars
NomNomNow Chicken Chow MeowNomNomNow Chicken Chow Meow
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$2.83/12.5 oz can A+ 5 stars
Tiki Cat Puka Puka LuauTiki Cat Puka Puka Luau
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$2.42/6 oz can A+ 5 stars

Dry Foods

If you are looking for good dry foods, there are some that we like. Again, it is especially important to make sure that our cat is drinking plenty of water if you are feeding a dry cat food.

Orijen Regional Red (dry) Cat Food

Orijen has an excellent reputation, whether you are considering dog or cat food. Orijen specializes in biologically appropriate foods and their Regional Red cat food is 90 percent meat and fish and only 10 percent veggies, fruits, and botanicals. Orijen also uses whole prey ratios of meat, organ meats, and edible bones to make it even closer to live prey. We think that American Shorthairs will enjoy the high meat content in this food, the fat percentage (which is close to what they would find in live prey), and the organs in the food.

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Instinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble For Cats Chicken Formula

Instinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble for Cats Chicken Formula uses only real chicken – no rendered meats, chicken meal, or by-product meal. It’s high in protein and slightly lower in fat than some other dry cat foods. We think it’s a good choice for American Shorthairs that love their meat protein but might need to be a little more careful about calories. Otherwise, this food has everything your cat could want to stay healthy. And the food should appeal to your cat. The kibble pieces have a freeze dried raw coating for better taste.

Wet Foods

Smalls for Smalls Fresh Turkey Pate

Smalls for Smalls creates human grade recipes specially formulated based on a profile you fill out when you sign up. The food is delivered to your doorstep, which is about as convenient as it gets. Among the benefits of fresh food are a shinier coat, more energy, and a less fragrant litter box. Cats are primarily carnivores, so they get most of their nutrition from the meat in their food. Smalls for Smalls recipes, such as the Fresh Turkey Pate, are all protein first, so you know your cat is getting optimal nutrition during every meal. Another thing to think about is the fact that cats actually get most of their hydration from their food, as well. Smalls for Smalls Fresh Turkey Pate has a high water content, which means your cat will stay hydrated and healthy. If the ingredients aren’t good enough for humans, they aren’t good enough for cats, either, according to Smalls for Smalls, so when you subscribe, you know you are giving your cat food you can feel good about from a company you can trust.

NomNomNow Chicken Chow Meow

NomNomNow foods are made fully grain-free, with human grade, restaurant-quality ingredients and in human food processing facilities in California and Tennessee. When you order NomNomNow cat food, you’ll create a profile with your cat’s health, weight, and weight goals. The NomNomNow staff prepares small batches of fresh food and portions it out according to your cat’s calorie needs. They ship a week’s or month’s supply in a refrigerated box. NomNomNow’s Chicken Chow Meow is made with flaked chicken mixed with a blend of low-glycemic veggies and NomNomNutrient mix for nutritional completeness. The food is rich in animal-sourced protein with low carbohydrate content. It’s a species-appropriate choice for any cat.

Wellness Complete Health (canned) Turkey& Salmon Recipe

We like this food for American Shorthairs because it has lots of meat protein and it’s low in carbs. For a cat like the American Shorthair, which has historically been kept as a mouser, we think this food comes close to the kind of protein and fat percentages your cat would eat if he were catching his own food. It should satisfy his craving for meat and it’s a healthy food.

Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau

Tiki Cat is another food that is often highly recommended for adult cats. We think that American Shorthairs can benefit from eating this food. This food contains very natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals. It’s high in moisture, protein, and fat, like food that your American Shorthair would catch as prey. Tiki Cat’s foods mimic live prey to a great extent and are biologically appropriate for cats. Highly recommended for American Shorthairs.

Best Kitten Food For American Shorthairs

Food for kittens should have an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement that says the food is appropriate for growth/reproduction. All life stage foods can also be fed to kittens since these foods have been approved for cats at all stages of growth and maintenance. Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats on a maintenance diet. For example, kittens need a minimum of 30 percent protein for growth, while adult cats need a minimum of 26 percent. Kittens need more calcium while they are growing, and so on. So, look for foods that are especially made for kittens or for all life stage foods.

Food Price Nutrition Rating
Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat FoodOrijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
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$4.91/lb A+ 5 stars
Wellness Complete Health Kitten RecipeWellness Complete Health Kitten Recipe
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$1.17/3 oz can A 5 star

Dry Food

Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

If you prefer a dry food for your kitten, we suggest the bestselling Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. Like other Orijen foods, Orijen Cat & Kitten is biologically appropriate. Some 90 percent of the ingredients are poultry, fish, and eggs, with just 10 percent from vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. The food contains whole prey ratios of meat, organs, cartilage, and other ingredients so it is more natural and like eating nutrients from live prey for your American Shorthair kitten. Kittens should also find the food tasty since it has infusions of freeze dried liver.

Wet Food

Wellness Complete Health Kitten Recipe

We think American Shorthair kittens will do well on Wellness Complete Health Kitten Recipe. This food has plenty of protein, fat, and calories to provide the energy your kitten needs to grow. Healthy ingredients support healthy growth. We think your American Shorthair kitten will grow strong muscles and bones eating this food.

Best Cat Food For Senior American Shorthairs

Senior cats tend to be different from senior dogs. Most mature cats have decreasing energy needs until they are about 11 years of age. At that time their energy requirements start increasing again as they grow older. Middle-aged cats often have problems with obesity but as they age, cats can begin to lose weight. These elderly cats may not digest or absorb protein and fat as well as younger cats. They often need food that is easy to digest so they can get the energy they need. As your cat gets older, it’s important to monitor his weight and condition so you can adjust his diet. There is no need to restrict the amount of protein your older cat eats unless he has a specific health issue and your veterinarian recommends a change in his diet.

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Bearing in mind the fact that American Shorthairs often live to be 15 years of age – or older – these are important considerations for this breed.

Dry Food

Fromm Mature Gold

High in protein and moderate in fat, Fromm still has enough calories to keep your older American Shorthair happy. This food has the same good ingredients that Fromm foods normally have but they manage to make this food with a little less fat. Good for less active older American Shorthairs and those who might need to lose a little weight. Fromm also has an adult Gold formula and one for kittens.

Wet Food

Precise Naturals Senior Formula

Another food we recommend for older cats is Precise Naturals® Senior Formula, especially if you prefer a canned food. This food has ingredients that your American Shorthair should find tasty and easy-to-digest. It has high protein and fat and plenty of moisture in this canned form. Plus, Precise is known for making specialized diets. We think senior American Shorthairs can benefit from eating this senior formula.

Best Cat Food For American Shorthairs With Food Allergies/Intolerances

Although we did not find information to indicate that American Shorthairs have any special problems with food allergies or intolerances, it’s possible for any animal to have one of these problems since they are a very individual matter. If your American Shorthair has a sensitive stomach or a skin irritation due to a food intolerance, here are some foods we recommend.

Sensitive Stomach

If your cat has a sensitive stomach he may vomit or have diarrhea. He may gag. He may refuse his food or not eat from time to time. As someone who loves your cat, you know how distressing this can be. You may want to take your cat to the vet to make sure there is nothing wrong. If the problem is a sensitive stomach, you may need to try different foods to find out what your cat can tolerate eating. Sometimes a limited ingredient diet cat food is a good choice, especially if you can identify the particular ingredient(s) which bother your cat and avoid them. Wet/canned foods usually have fewer ingredients than dry foods so it’s probably easier to avoid certain ingredients if you feed a canned food. These foods may only contain a meat protein, added vitamins and minerals, and a couple of other ingredients in some cases. Dry foods often have many more ingredients since they require carbs/starches and binding ingredients to work with the manufacturing equipment.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Turkey Formula

Natural Balance makes quite a few limited ingredient foods but we also like Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Turkey Formula (and their other limited ingredient formulas). Instinct uses a single source of animal protein in these formulas. The ingredients are easy for a cat like your American Shorthair to digest. You can feed the food in rotation with other formulas or stay with one formula. The food has plenty of protein which should satisfy your American Shorthair. And, since it’s a canned food, there is plenty of moisture in the food. We think one of these limited ingredient diet Instinct foods is a good choice for any cat with a sensitive stomach.

Skin Irritation

Even American Shorthairs, as healthy as they are, can sometimes develop skin irritations due to food allergies. The allergy can make them itch, which leads to scratching, which makes the skin raw. Next thing you know, you have irritated skin which can get infected. If your cat does have this kind of skin allergy, it’s a good idea to see your veterinarian. You may need to work through food trials and an elimination diet to identify the ingredients that your cat is allergic to.

If you think you know the cause of your cat’s food allergy, you can try to find foods that don’t contain that ingredient. Again, we recommend a limited ingredient diet. Foods with fewer ingredients are less likely to contain the offending ingredient and it’s easier for you to control what your cat is eating. If you do need to use an elimination diet, there are prescription diets. You just need a prescription from your veterinarian and you can order the food online.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets® Duck & Green Pea Canned Cat Formula

For a limited ingredient diet you can try one of the foods from Natural Balance such as L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets® Duck & Green Pea Canned Cat Formula. The Natural Balance LID foods use limited protein and carb sources. They are grain free and they use alternative ingredients that are less likely to trigger a reaction in your American Shorthair. These foods have high protein with some of it coming from peas to avoid animal protein triggers. This is a bestselling food for all cats that have food allergies and we think an American Shorthair with a food allergy would benefit from it.


American Shorthairs have been in this country from the start. They are big, easy-going, sweet cats. We hope this look at their diet and nutrition has been helpful. They are very healthy cats and it’s not usually hard to find a diet that works for them. Just feed them a good food and love them.

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