American Shorthair Cat Breed Characteristics

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American shorthair quick facts

Length‌: 12 - 17 inches


Weight‌: Females: 6 - 12 pounds, Males: 11 - 15 pounds

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Lifespan‌: 12 - 17 years

Coat length‌: Short


Coloring‌: All coat colors and patterns except for pointed

Grooming needs‌: Low

Friendliness‌: Breed alone is not an accurate predictor of individual cats' personalities. However, American shorthair cats are generally regarded as friendly and easygoing.


The American shorthair has earned their place as one of the most popular cat breeds. They are beautiful animals with a compact and muscular build. They also have a winning personality and the adaptability to fit in with a variety of home situations, including those with children and other pets. The breed tends to be very healthy and long-lived. Consider the breed's personality and care requirements to decide whether the American shorthair is right for you.


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American shorthair cat history

The American shorthair cat breed, historically known as the domestic shorthair, was featured in cat shows in the early 1900s. The breed was of the first five breeds to be recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) in 1906. The breed started as working cats that were brought to North America from Europe. They were brought to the new world on ships, such as the Mayflower, to hunt vermin such as rats.


These medium-sized cats have muscular bodies, short, dense coats, and round faces. While the tabby coat pattern is most common, the breed comes in many different colors and patterns. These include:


  • solid colors (including white, black, and blue)
  • tabby patterns (in different colors including brown tabby and silver tabby)
  • tortoiseshell
  • calico
  • cameo


Breeders are not permitted to outcross purebred American shorthair cats to other breeds. Traits that give the appearance of outcrossing, such as the pointed coat pattern seen in Siamese cats, are disqualifying under the American shorthair breed standard.

American shorthair cat personality

The American shorthair cat is laid-back and friendly and a great addition to any family. They do well with people of all ages, including young children. American shorthair cats also tend to get along with other pets in the household. These sweet-natured cats love to be an active part of the family and enjoy cuddling with their families.


They aren't couch potatoes, though. This breed of cat tends to be extremely curious and they love to climb. Therefore, consider adding shelves or a tall cat tree to direct their energy away from your curtains and shelves. The cats are quite trainable and you can teach them to play fetch or perform other tricks. Be sure to use plenty of positive reinforcement when teaching them.


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American shorthair cat lifespan and health issues

A healthy American shorthair cat receiving proper care can live well into their teens. The breed is known to be healthy and hardy and is not generally affected by any genetic health problems. Some cats may have problems such as:


  • hip dysplasia:‌ a condition in which the ball and socket of the hip joint don't properly fit together
  • hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:‌ a type of heart disease that causes the heart wall to thicken
  • obesity

It is important to keep your cat up-to-date with all of the recommended vaccinations. To keep your cat healthy, take them in for an annual check-up with the veterinarian to monitor the cat's weight and catch any potential health concerns early.

American shorthair cat grooming and care

The American shorthair cat is a low-maintenance breed. They simply require a weekly brushing or combing to remove any loose fur from their coat. While not strictly necessary, as most cats can groom their own coat enough to keep it soft and healthy, regular grooming can help to reduce the amount of fur on your furniture and floors and reduce hairballs.

Other regular grooming tasks include:

  • checking and trimming the cat's nails
  • checking and cleaning the cat's ears
  • brushing the cat's teeth with veterinarian-approved toothpaste

Feed your cat high-quality commercial cat food in the amount recommended by your veterinarian. Since cats of this breed are prone to becoming overweight, avoid free feeding and limit the number of treats you offer the cat each day. Make sure there is clean, fresh drinking water available at all times.

Cats have a natural instinct to scratch, so provide a scratching post. Make a point to engage in regular playtime with your cat. You can use teaser wands or other interactive toys that let your cat embrace their natural hunting instincts. The activity not only helps your cat maintain a healthy weight, but it also helps provide the mental stimulation necessary to keep your cat happy.


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Welcoming a new cat into your home

Bringing home your new American shorthair kitten or cat is an exciting day for the entire family. Before you bring them into the household, ensure the home is safe and ready for their arrival. Cat-proof your home and remove anything that may be dangerous or harmful to your new cat such as poisonous houseplants. Remember that these cats are curious and like to climb and jump to high perches, so it is important to also cat-proof areas like to top of bookshelves and the top of your refrigerator.

Set up a single room where your new cat can adjust to their new surroundings in a safe space. Equip the room with everything your cat needs including:

  • food and water
  • litter box
  • scratching post
  • cat tree
  • cat toys

American shorthairs love people so spend plenty of time in the room with your new cat so they aren't alone for long. However, don't push them to explore before they are ready. Allow the cat to come to you for petting and cuddles when they are ready.

If you have children and other pets in the home, this is a good time to make introductions slowly. That way your new cat has a safe place to retreat to if they get overwhelmed. Once your cat is comfortable with the environment and any other pets, you can open the door and allow them access to more of the home. Before you know it, this friendly cat will be an active member of your household.



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