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American Shorthair Cat Facts

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American Shorthair kitten ready to pounce

The American Shorthair is one of the most popular breeds of cats. And is it any wonder? They’re typically cute and cuddly with an interesting history that traces all the way back to the Mayflower. So, what is an American Shorthair cat?

History of the American Shorthair Cat

American Shorthairs are known as hardworking rodent catchers, which is why they were carried on board ships, like the Mayflower, making their way from Europe to America. After they had landed in the Western Hemisphere, they became useful farm cats helping to keep barns and food stores clear of rats and mice.

This breed was initially known as the Domestic Shorthair, but it got a new name in 1966 when it became the American Shorthair. The name change was enacted to differentiate these felines from other shorthair cats. It also recognizes their heritage as the cats who may have first put paws down in what was our new nation at the time.

Physical Characteristics

While they’re not recognized as being particularly agile, they are known for their strength, endurance, and balance. They often have a sturdy and muscular build. Maybe it was all that training from their colonial days that gave them such a solid physique. 

From the name, you can guess that they have short hair. Their fur is also dense and thick, especially in the winter when it can help protect them from the cold. Although they have a cozy coat, remember our strategic partner The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) recommends that cats stay inside for safety reasons. For instance, keeping cats inside can protect them from catching contagious illnesses, contracting parasites, and getting hurt by other animals.

American Shorthair cats are most famous for their brown or grey tabby coats, but they can come in many different colors and patterns. Standard American Shorthair colors can include streaks and patches of white, black, brown, cream, silver, and blue in their fur. They can also be primarily solid in color, bi-color, tri-color, striped, or with a shaded look.

Common Personality Traits

A cat’s personality can be affected by many factors, including their environment, experiences, and age—not unlike us humans! But there is anecdotal evidence that depicts American Shorthairs are intelligent creatures who enjoy watching the world around them, for instance, watching little birdies hop and squirrels dash around outside from a perch on the windowsill.

They’re also said to be affectionate and enjoy spending time nestling and purring in the laps of their cat parents. In addition, they’re known for an independent streak and like to play and engage with their cat parents on their own terms.

American shorthair cat looking over a white wallt

How to Care for an American Shorthair Cat

You can expect a healthy American Shorthair to live to age 15 or so, which is the typical American Shorthair cat lifespan of most cats. To take great care of your American Shorthair, keep these five tips in mind:

1. Visit the Vet

Scheduling a yearly check-up is one of the best things you can do for your cat’s health. Regular exams can help your veterinarian detect health issues in the early stages when treatment can be less complex, and the outcome might be better. They also make sure your cat’s vaccines are up-to-date and their weight is on track.

Annual appointments are also helpful because they provide you a time to ask any questions or bring up any concerns you may have about your cat’s health, behavior, and exercise routine. Veterinarians can also be a great resource, especially if you are a new pet parent. Not only do some veterinarian offices offer services such as nail trimming, but your veterinarian can also offer helpful advice, such as recommended cat food brands.

2. Do Home Health Checks

In addition to regular visits to the veterinarian, it’s helpful to check on your American Shorthair’s health at home. Cats of all breeds are renowned for hiding or masking their symptoms when they’re sick, so it’s good to keep a close eye on them. If you notice a drop in weight or unkempt fur, your cat might be ill. See five common signs your cat is sick.

As a cat parent, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the signs of the common health conditions that could affect your cat’s breed. By knowing what to look out for, you will hopefully be able to catch any serious problems early on. That being said, even if you notice a few abnormal behaviors but aren’t completely certain if your cat is sick, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

3. Watch that Weight

Obesity is a growing problem for all breeds of felines, including American Shorthairs. It can lead to a whole host of medical issues, from heart disease to diabetes. Talk with your veterinarian at your cat’s next annual exam about a healthy diet and exercise routine for your frisky friend.

4. Brush Regularly

While cats are typically good at grooming themselves, it’s still important to give them a good brushing on a regular basis. This helps keep their coat in top shape and cut down on those icky coughed-up furballs. You should also brush your cat’s teeth regularly and get an annual dental cleaning.

5. Consider Cat Insurance

Even indoor-only cats can get hurt—they can miss a landing off a high countertop, swallow something they shouldn’t (like a piece of string), or nibble on a toxic plant or flowers. They can also suffer from common cat diseases like hyperthyroidism or diabetes, which can be costly to treat. A cat insurance plan can help you manage the costs of accidents, injuries, illnesses, and even wellness care.

5 Fun Facts About the American Shorthair Cat

American Shorthairs can be fun and loving companions. With that in mind, here are five fun facts about this breed:

1. A new name.

As we mentioned, the American Shorthair got its official name in 1966 to differentiate it from other shorthaired cats.

2. Mayflower felines.

We also already told you about their presence on the historic Mayflower, but it’s so cool that it’s worth repeating.

3. Not your typical shorthair.

American Shorthairs are not the same as Domestic Shorthairs. They can look similar, and the names are used interchangeably, but true American Shorthairs are purebred while Domestic Shorthairs typically have unknown lineage, making them the “mutts” of the cat world.

4. A cat of many colors.

This breed of cat can have many different colored and patterned coats—some say up to 60 or more combinations.

5. Look at those peepers!

American Shorthairs are also known for their big eyes, which tend to be big and wide. They can be almond-shaped on top and rounded at the bottom, with outer corners set up a little higher than the inner corners of the eyes.

Name Ideas for American Shorthair Cat

Are you looking for a name for your new American Shorthair kitty? You might name your little furball after their coloring or choose a strong name since this breed is known for its muscular build. Or maybe something that hearkens to that colonial legacy?

Here are some ideas you can try on for size:

  • Amber
  • Apollo
  • Benjamin
  • Blaze
  • Boots
  • Champ
  • Denzel
  • Dusty
  • Franklin
  • Hamilton
  • Lancelot
  • Mayflower
  • Mittens
  • Tabby
  • Thor
  • Tiger
  • Shadow
  • Socks
  • Sterling
  • Zeus

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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