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Meet The American Shorthair

Get to know the oldest shorthaired American breed, a friendly, mellow cat with classic, easy-care good looks!

By: Carol W. Johnson

Last Updated:

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Photos by Larry Johnson

Looking for a cat who is friendly, mellow, and easy to care for? Look no further than an American Shorthair! Happy-go-lucky and confident, these are true family cats, generally comfortable with children and dogs, and as American as apple pie.

A Breed Born and Bred in America

While there are no records of when cats first came to North America, it is believed that shorthaired cats were brought to North American by European ships, aboard where they controlled rodents and protected food supplies. As settlers journeyed west, cats went with them, earning their keep by protecting houses and barns from vermin.

Shorthairs were featured in the first U.S. Cat Show in 1895 and were one of the first five recognized breeds when the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the world’s oldest and largest registry of pedigreed and companion cats, was formed in 1906. They were shown initially as “Shorthairs,” then as “Domestic Shorthairs” before the name “American Shorthair” was chosen in 1965. The American Shorthair is this oldest shorthaired American breed.

So, what makes them so special? The American Shorthair is a muscular, medium-to-large cat with a strong, powerful presence. This cat’s distinctive head sets it apart from today’s random-bred cats. The head is large and oblong (slightly longer than wide), with a square muzzle and jaws that are designed for catching mice. The eyes are characteristically large, set wide apart, and have a shape found in no other breed: the top lid is almond-shaped and the bottom lid rounded. The cat’s short, dense coat has a high degree of weather resistance and is easily maintained with weekly brushing.

a beautiful black, grey, and white American Shorthair cat

A Rainbow of Colour Choices

While silver and brown classic tabby Americans are the most popular, the breed is recognized in more than 100 different colour combinations. The basic colours are white, black/brown, blue, red, and cream. These can be modified with a silver gene and/or a gene that produces patches of white. American Shorthairs are found in patterns that include solid, parti-color (tortoiseshell), smoke, shaded, and three tabby patterns (classic, mackerel, and ticked).

A Playful Spirit 

Americans love to play, especially chasing feathers on a wand or on a string. If you play with your cat at about the same time each day, don’t be surprised to find your American fairly dancing in anticipation! This breed is most comfortable with all four feet on the floor and may feel off-balance when picked up, so be sure to strongly support your American Shorthair from underneath when handling.

An American Shorthair cat

An Easy-Care Kitty That’s Also Easy to Find

American Shorthairs are a healthy breed, with most living 10 to 15 years, some even longer. Care simply involves daily brushing and regular claw clipping. A wire-toothed slicker brush or a grooming mitt is perfect to help manage shedding. 

Finding an American Shorthair shouldn’t be a problem. They have consistently been in the top 20 breeds registered by CFA. To find a reputable breeder, consider attending a cat show.

This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Cat magazine. Subscribe today!


Last Updated:

By: Carol W. Johnson
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