The American Shorthair: everything about this breed!

American Shorthair appearance

The American Shorthair is a real companion cat. The cat is easy to handle, is playful but also likes to hunt. The American Shorthair is therefore at home in all markets. The coat of the cat does not need a lot of grooming. It is important that you start with this care at a young age. Curious why this is so? You can read it here.


The origin: from working cat to domestic cat

The American Shorthair descends from cats taken to America by European settlers. The settlers took the cats with them as working cats, protecting them from mice and rats. The cats had to survive a heavy sea shipping so the American Shorthair has a strong base. Only the strongest cats survived the sea voyage to America.

In America the cat spread all over the country. They were real working cats and for a long time they were not taken in as domestic cats. This working cat was eventually crossed with imported breeds like the British Shorthair, the Burmese and the Press. From these crossbreeds the American Shorthair originated.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century there was an increasing interest in the beauty of cats. In 1896, for example, there was a cat exhibition in the Madison Square Garden where a brown American Shorthair was offered for sale. In 1906 the American Shorthair was recognized for the first time by the Cat Fanciers’ Association, giving it the name ”domestic shorthair”. At the beginning of the 60’s the cat was renamed the American Shorthair. The cat occurs mainly in the United States and is quite rare in Europe.[1]


The character: a cat that is at home in all markets

The American Shorthair is a real companion cat. In general the cat is quite calm and adapts easily. The cat has a benign character and attaches itself to everyone in the house. The American Shorthair is very curious, loves to play but can also be good on its own.

Besides that the American Shorthair is a real hunter. This must have something to do with his origin! So it is very well possible that the cat comes with a dead mouse. The cat loves the outdoors very much. It is nice when the cat has the possibility to go outside. So make sure that – if you take the American Shorthair into your house – you have enough space around your house for this cat.

American Shorthair with kitten

Appearance: a muscular cat with a powerful appearance

The American Shorthair is a medium to large cat. The weight of the cat is approximately between 3.5 and 7 kilograms. In general males are a bit heavier than females and also have more developed jaws.

The body of the American Shorthair is quite muscular. The cat has strong shoulders, a broad back and muscular legs. Also because of these straight and muscular legs the cat has a powerful appearance. The cat has round legs with strong pads. The tail of the cat is medium long and has a somewhat blunt and abrupt end.

The head of the American Shorthair is quite big and the cat has a full face. The ears are medium sized and slightly rounded at the end. Furthermore the cat has a somewhat square snout and a rather strong jaw. The eyes of the cat are shaped like half an almond and the cat looks very sharp from his eyes. The eyes are quite wide apart and there is always a lot of space between the eyes. The eyes of the American Shorthair are in most cases dependent on the coat colour. In most cases they are golden in colour. In some cases both eyes can also be different in colour. Many combinations occur in this cat.


The coat of the American Shorthair

As you can see from the name, the American Shorthair has a short coat. The coat is short but very thick which makes the coat very resilient. The coat can have several patterns but in most cases the coat of the American Shorthair is striped. In general almost all colours are accepted by breed breed breeders. The Cat Fanciers’ Assocatiation, one of the most important cat breed organisations, allows the following colours:

  • White
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Cream
  • Bicoloured
  • Three-coloured (Calico)

When the American Shorthair is black the nose and the end of the legs are generally black as well. The same goes for a blue American Shorthair. When the coat of the cat has a somewhat blue colour this also applies to the nose and the end of the legs. When the coat is a bit red this is called a cream American Shorthair. The American Shorthair can also have several colours of coat. In most cases the cat then has a base of white coat with black, blue, red and beige spots.

Besides colours we can also distinguish between patterns. For example, the Cat Fanciers’ Assocatiation distinguishes between a shadow coat, a smoky coat and a striped coat. In the case of a shady coat, the coat also consists of two colours but the colour of the top of the coat predominates. This only happens when the top colour of the coat is black or red. In addition to a shaded coat, the American Shorthair can also have a smoky coat.

In this case the cat has a black coat but the root of the coat is still white. This phenomenon also occurs with a blue and red coat with white roots. The striped coat is most common with the American Shorthair. In these cats a clear pattern of stripes can be seen at the head, neck, legs and tail.

American Shorthair playing

The upbringing: make sure you get used to human touch

With cats in general the upbringing is very important. This upbringing always starts with socialization. When socializing a cat you let the cat get used to human touch, strange noises, other animals but also the way things are done in a household. This is very important as it prepares the kitten for life to come. In the kitten’s life it will be touched by humans during grooming, the kitten will encounter strange animals but will most likely also start living in a household.

A cat has two periods of socialization in its life. The first socialization period is when the kitten is between 2 and 7 weeks old. This socialization period is really the basis of the upbringing. The kitten gets used to human touch and gets to know strange sounds. The second socialization period takes place after the first socialization period until the kitten is 14 weeks old. During this period the kitten learns what it is like in a household and is as it were really prepared for its future life. It is also important that the kitten grows up in the presence of the mother cat. This is very important for the development of the kitten.

In most cases breeders do not give a kitten to their new owner until she is at least 13 weeks old. This means that the kitten spends almost the entire socialization period with the breeder. Before buying your American Shorthair from a breeder, it is wise to check if the breeder has paid enough attention to this socialization period.


The care of the American Shorthair

If you have allowed a kitten to get used to human touch at an early age – as described under the heading of parenting – taking care of the cat will be a lot easier. It will be easier to cut the nails in time, brush the teeth, but brushing the coat will also be a lot easier.

To keep your cat healthy it is important to take care of the teeth, clean the ears and cut the nails on a regular basis. It is also good for the health of the coat to brush on a regular basis. This prevents tangles and creates a more beautiful and radiant coat. Brushing the coat once a week is sufficient in most cases. In the moulting period it can be wise to comb the coat more often.

It is also wise to buy enough toys for your American Shorthair. The American Shorthair can become quite firm, but by having enough interactive toys in the house you can prevent this and the American Shorthair can lose its energy. Nutrition also plays an important role in preventing a cat from becoming overweight. You can read more about this below.


The food the American Shorthair needs

An important part of the care of the American Shorthair is the nutrition. In general, it is wise to adjust a cat’s energy supply to the amount of activity a cat has. Age is also very important here. For example, it is wise to give a young and very active cat more food than a somewhat older and less active cat.

The American Shorthair is a medium sized cat with strong muscles. It is important that these muscles get enough fuel to prevent weight gain. The American Shorthair has a tendency to become quite firm. So it is important to give your cat good and healthy food.

The natural food of cats is mice. Mice consist for the most part of meat and for a small part of other flatulent substances. Cats are not very good at processing carbohydrates. So it is important that you choose food for your American Shorthair that is low in carbohydrates.

The ideal food for the American Shorthair contains a lot of meat. On the labels of cat food it is stated what the ingredients are. Besides meat, cat food often also contains other added substances. It is always wise to check whether these substances are good for your cat’s health. Many flavour enhancers and preservatives can cause allergies in cats. Of course you don’t want to see this happen to your cat! To ensure a good food for your American Shorthair, it is wise to look carefully at the labels.

American Shorthair gives kitten kisses

Diseases that are common in the American Shorthair

The American Shorthair is a relatively healthy cat. This may be due to the strong base of the cat as only the strongest cats survived the sea voyage to America. A disease that still wants to occur in the American Shorthair is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (hereafter: HCM) is a hereditary heart defect that causes less blood to be pumped around. Because less blood is pumped around, there is an increased risk of thrombosis. Fluid accumulation in the lungs and chest can also occur and the heart valves can work less well.

The disease is usually noticed at a young age. There are not always symptoms and it can happen that a cat suddenly dies without any complaints. It is also possible that the cat does develop symptoms. The disease cannot be cured. There is medication available that can alleviate complaints due to HCM. The following symptoms can point to HCM:

  • The cat has a bad appetite;
  • The cat suffers from anxiety;
  • The cat has accelerated breathing;
  • The cat suffers from paralysis in the hind legs.

HCM is a hereditary disease. So, it is very important not to breed with cats that have HCM. It is recommended to do a DNA test beforehand.


How old can an American Shorthair get?

The American Shorthair usually becomes about 15 years old. Exactly how old the cat gets depends on the care and health of the cat. Cats that are well cared for are more likely to reach a higher age than cats that are less well cared for. Health is also very important. If the cat gets HCM, for example, it will have a negative impact on life expectancy. Of course, you want to keep the cat in the house for as long as possible.


What do you need to know before you take your cat into the house?

To get an American Shorthair you don’t necessarily need a lot of experience with keeping animals. However, it is important that you are well prepared. It is important to be well informed about what you need to take into account when buying an American Shorthair. If you are planning to take in an American Shorthair with papers, it is wise to visit a breeder who is a member of a breed or cat association.[2]

When buying an American Shorthair it is wise to know if the parents are tested for HCM as well. This is important because HCM is a hereditary disease that can be very common in American Shorthair. It is also important that you never buy a kitten when the mother cat is not present. The mother cat plays an important role in the upbringing and development of a kitten so it is very important that she is present. It is also important that the cat is well socialized. This has already been discussed extensively under the heading upbringing.

American Shorthair

What price do you have to think of?

The price for the American Shorthair is between 750 and 1000 euros. On average the American Shorthair costs between 600 and 1200 USD. American Shorthair cats with a normal origin, a medium size appearance, and coming from breeders who are a bit less known, are priced between 500 and 800 USD. Are you buying an American Shorthair kitten from a reputable breeder? Then the price can be between 1000 and 1500 USD. In some cases even higher!


Do you have an American Shorthair?

Since the American Shorthair is quite rare in the Netherlands, we are very curious if you have this cat in your house. Why did you choose this cat breed? Where did you get the cat? You can let us know by leaving a comment on this article!


[1] Source: The Cat Encyclopedia – the definitive visual guide.

[2] For more information you can visit – for example – the National American Shorthair Club, which is a CFA-Affiliated American (ASH) breed club via

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We are a team of cat lovers, doing our best to create and spread information about cats. On you will read all about different cat breeds, and what makes them so special. You will also find information about grooming and training your cat. Be sure to leave us a reply if you like our article.

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