Everything You Wanted To Know About American Shorthair Cat

Oftentimes, when people don’t know the breed of their cat, they simply say it is an American Shorthair. However, American Shorthair as a breed has a strict set of rules that need to be obeyed in order for a particular cat to be considered a real American Shorthair. 

Originally brought to America by early settlers, American Shorthair is now among the most popular pedigreed breeds in the world. That’s not surprising, as there are many interesting things about these cats that make them so popular. 

American Shorthair Characteristics


Fur colorSilver, brown, copper, white, blue, cream, and many others.
Fur patternTabby, calico, bicolor, solid.
Fur lengthShort
Eye color & shapeLarge, wide-set eyes that can be blue, green, copper, hazel, gold, and odd-colored.
LengthMales 12”-15”
Females 10”-12”
WeightMales 11-15 lbs
Females 6-12 lbs
Expected lifespan15+


TemperamentEasy-going, affectionate, friendly, and loyal, can be handled easily. Adaptable, good-natured, fairly independent.
Kids and other petsFriendly towards kids and other pets, unless those pets are birds and other small animals.
Sociable and cuddlySociable and cuddly, and friendly even toward strangers.
Activity levelPlayful and energetic cats that have strong hunting instincts.

Requirements & Traits

FeedingA combination of dry and wet meat-based foods. Both adults and kittens should eat several small portions a day.
GroomingBrushing the fur several times a week, especially when the cat is shedding its winter coat. Nail trimming and dental care.
SheddingModerately, especially after the winter.

History and Origins

American Shorthair history

When the first European settlers started traveling to North America in the 1600s, they brought their cats with them in an effort to reduce rat and mouse infestation on the ships and in their new homes. These felines certainly stood up to the challenge, as they proved to be extremely efficient.

Soon, these cats started to breed with each other, and each new generation adapted more to the new environment and climate. People would also selectively breed them to enhance their hunting abilities. By 1895, American Shorthairs attended the first cat shows in the US. In 1904, there was the first recorded breeding of an American Shorthair.

At first, this breed was called Domestic Shorthair, but this name was changed in 1966 to American Shorthair. This change in name was supposed to differentiate American Shorthairs from the domestic shorthair cats that don’t belong to any breed.

American Shorthair Personality 

Although American Shorthairs were a form of pest control at first, soon enough, they became dear pets. While they were bred for their hunting instincts, American Shorthairs showed their soft and gentle side towards humans.

Today, American Shorthair cats are friendly, outgoing, affectionate, and loyal pets. They like to play and snoop around, but they will be content with sitting by your side and even on your lap. These cats are independent, and they can be left alone more often than other cat breeds.

American Shorthairs are great with children and other pets. However, since their hunting instinct is so strong, you should keep your American Shorthair from pets such as fish, hamsters, turtles, and any other pets that can be killed by the American Shorthair.

These cats are fairly intelligent, and you can teach them some basic commands and give them toys that require some problem-solving. Still, keep your expectations low, and don’t expect your American Shorthair to be as trainable as some other cat breeds.

American Shorthair Appearance

American Shorthair appearance
Photo Credit: mimmythekitten

Since these cats were kept as hunting animals, their bodies developed accordingly.


American Shorthairs spent most of their time outside, hunting for mice, rats, and other rodents that could damage crops and food stocks and even carry various diseases. As such, they developed a thick coat. 

To be able to survive cold temperatures, American Shorthairs also grow winter fur, which is a bit longer and denser than regular fur. Nowadays, most American Shorthairs are kept as indoor pets, and they don’t rely on their thick coats to stay warm during freezing temperatures.  

The fur can be of various colors and patterns, the most common combination being silver tabby. Still, other combinations are also allowed, and there are brown, black, blue, white, orange, and cream American Shorthair cats with solid, bi-color, and calico fur patterns. 


American Shorthairs have large and wide eyes that are somewhere between almond-shaped and rounded. Their eyes are also wide set and proportionate with the head shape.

Their eyes can be of any color, including green, blue, hazel, yellow, copper, and gold. They can also be odd-colored, meaning one eye is a different color than the other one. 


American Shorthairs are medium-sized to large cats. Males are significantly larger than females. A male American Shorthair can reach a body length of 12-15 inches and a weight of 11-15 lbs. Females, on the other hand, grow up to 10-12 inches in body length, and they usually reach the weight of 6-12 lbs. 

Other Body Characteristics

Due to their history of hunting, American Shorthairs developed strong, muscular, broad, rounded, and compact bodies. Their heads are also rounded, with distinct cheeks and fleshy whisker pads.

Their ears are small to medium-sized, rounded at tops, and widely set apart. Tails are long and tapered, and they are carried at a slightly upward angle. 

Paws are rounded, strong, and wide, with paw pad color corresponding to the color of the nose. Legs are stocky and strong, a bit short when compared to other cat breeds. Their legs may look less elegant than the legs of other cat breeds, but they are still cute. 

Daily Life With American Shorthair

American Shorthairs are low-maintenance, but there are still some things to keep in mind to ensure your cat has everything it needs!


American Shorthair, just like any other cat breed, feeds exclusively on meat. When choosing the food for your cat, try to choose only the best quality. This means you shouldn’t feed your cat with your leftovers, especially if there are carbohydrates, vegetables, or other non-meat ingredients in your food.

Your American Shorthair should eat both wet and dry food. By eating dry food, your cat will have healthy teeth and gums, as dry food helps with plaque removal. Still, dry food can get boring, and your cat needs to take in some fluids, too, so that’s why you should provide it with wet food too! 

Cats rarely drink water, but they still need to stay hydrated and wet food helps with that. Of course, always make sure that your cat has access to clean water, but don’t expect it to drink as often as the dog would.

Portion size and frequency of feeding will depend on the size, age, and activity level of the cat. In general, since American Shorthairs were hunters that fed on rodents they caught, their digestive tract has adapted to small but frequent portions.

Feeding your American Shorthair several times a day but with smaller portions is a way to go. Still, the best way to determine the right portion size is to observe your cat’s needs and to contact the vet if you can’t make that decision alone. 

American Shorthair cats are prone to getting obese, especially if they don’t get enough exercise. Remember that when determining how often you should feed your American Shorthair. Of course, you shouldn’t starve it, but just be cautious.  


American Shorthair cats have thick and dense fur with a relatively hard texture. Such fur doesn’t require any special upkeep, but it does require regular brushing. Try to brush your American Shorthair’s fur at least 2-3 times a week.

During the winter months, American Shorthairs grow a bit longer fur to stay warm. Once the winter is over, they will start to shed their winter coat. Try to make the brushing more frequent during this period.

Cleaning the eyes and ears is also important. Use wet cotton pads and be gentle. Trim their nails once a month or once every two months. If you can’t do it yourself, take your cat to a pet groomer or vet office. 

Dental hygiene is also extremely important. If possible, try to get your cat used to weekly teeth brushing. If your cat resists, you can always give it teeth-cleaning treats.


American Shorthair cats are fairly active and need regular exercise. After all, their not-so-distant ancestors spent their days chasing mice, rats, birds, and any other animal they could catch. You can’t expect them to be content with sitting on your lap the whole day!

Cats that don’t have enough exercise get bored, depressed, and destructive. Another problem that arises with the lack of activity is obesity. American Shorthairs that don’t have enough activity will be more likely to get obese because they have no way of spending all the calories they take in by eating.

Try to provide enough toys, cat trees, and interesting activities. Play some games with your cat, let it chase you, or hide and let it find you. If you have a backyard, you can let your American Shorthair play outside. Make sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t wander off or get into some sort of danger.

If you don’t have a backyard, you can leash-train your American Shorthair while it is still a kitten and take it outside for walks. Finally, if you can’t provide your cat with enough activity, you can always get another pet, preferably a cat. This way, they will play together, and you won’t have to worry about them not having enough activity.

Most Common American Shorthair Health Issues

The good news is that American Shorthair cats are generally healthy. They are resistant and sturdy animals that won’t easily get sick. Still, just like any other cat breed, American Shorthairs are more susceptible to some conditions than others. 


Feline obesity is characterized by a body weight that’s 20% or more above the normal weight. Domestic cats are at risk of obesity because they don’t have to spend their energy searching and hunting for food. They are regularly fed, and sometimes out of our love for them, we give them too much food. 

Cats are greedy, and you will rarely see them refuse food, even when they are full. Some cat breeds are even more prone to being obese, and American Shorthair is one of those breeds. These cats naturally have more rounded features than most other cats, so it can be difficult to notice when they get obese.

If left untreated, obesity can lead to various other health issues, including diabetes and cardiovascular issues. If you think your Shorthair might be obese, take it to the vet, and there you will get all the needed info. The vet will be able to suggest you a more appropriate meal plan. This will help your cat lose weight in a healthy way.


A feline panleukopenia is a disease that used to be the leading cause of death among domesticated cats. With the advancement of medicine and vaccines, panleukopenia is not as common, but it can still affect your cat.

It mostly affects kittens and young cats, but since the virus responsible for this disease is all around us, cats are exposed to it during their whole lives. The usual symptoms include high fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. 

If you notice any or more of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. Every minute counts, especially if your cat is still young. 


Another virus that can affect your cat, calicivirus is responsible for respiratory infections that can get really serious if left untreated. Some strains of this virus have a death rate of 67%, and that’s extremely alarming. 

The symptoms of calicivirus include sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal and eye discharge, ulcers on the tongue, lips, or nose, excessive drooling, high fever, lameness, etc. Take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. 

Hip Dysplasia

One of the most common conditions among all cat breeds, hip dysplasia, is characterized by a hip socket that doesn’t fully cover the round part of the thigh bone. In cats, this disease is detectable by symptoms that include limping, reduced or no physical activity, pain in the hip area, and attempts at licking or chewing the affected area.

Depending on the severity, feline hip dysplasia can be treated through physical treatments or anti-inflammatory medications. However, more severe cases require surgery. 

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Another condition that’s too frequent among cats, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the name for an enlarged and thickened heart wall muscle. Such muscle will cause more and more problems as time goes by, and eventually, it can lead to heart failure. 

Some cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are so mild your cat will be able to live a happy life with no issues. However, it is important to take your cat to regular check-ups that could notice any changes in your cat’s heart anatomy because you never know how severe the condition might get if you ignore it.  

American Shorthair Name Suggestions

American Shorthairs are adorable cute goofballs with a hint of hunter instinct. They deserve some names that will match their lovely yet fierce personalities. These are my top choices:

  • Rudy
  • Roar
  • Hunter
  • Ajax
  • Milo
  • Egon
  • Dynamo
  • Coral
  • Sheba
  • Onyx
  • Pepper
  • Sunset
  • Bengie

Buying or Adopting an American Shorthair?

American Shorthairs are popular and fairly common. That’s why you can choose between adopting and buying, as there are many shelters full of American Shorthairs and breeders that are specialized in this breed. 

Depending on your situation and preferences, both options can work out for you. The adoption cost is somewhere between $75 and $150. On the other hand, if you decide to buy an American Shorthair from a breeder, it will cost you $500–$800. 

If you want to save a cat from the bleak life in a shelter and offer it a new chance for happiness, then adopting is the way to go. On the other side, if you want a sense of security when buying a new cat from a reputable breeder, then buying is a better option for you. 

American Shorthair Cat Alternatives

American Shorthairs are very common in the US, and it shouldn’t be hard to find them either in a shelter or at a breeder. However, if, for some reason, you don’t want an American Shorthair, but you want a similar-looking cat, you have several options.

British Shorthair and Exotic Shorthair are certainly the first breeds that come to my mind as great American Shorthair alternatives. They look the most similar to American Shorthairs. Some other breeds you should definitely consider are American Curl and American Bobtail.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are American Shorthair Cats Intelligent?

To be honest, American Shorthairs are intelligent, but not extremely. You will be able to teach them some basic commands and even leash-train them, but apart from that, don’t expect too much. Still, this doesn’t reduce the fact that these cats are great pets.

Is An American Shorthair Cat A Tabby?

The most common fur pattern for American Shorthairs is tabby, but their fur can also be solid, bi-color, or calico (tri-color).

Are American Shorthair cats talkative?

Although they are sociable, American Shorthair cats aren’t really talkative. However, they are extremely expressive animals, and they communicate their needs through various facial expressions.

Are American Shorthair cats rare?

No, they are a fairly common cat breed, especially in the US. they are one of the most popular cat breeds, though, and it is easy to see why!

Are American Shorthairs The Same As European Shorthairs?

Even though American Shorthairs directly descended from the European Shorthairs, they are no longer the same breed. The biggest difference is in their appearance. American Shorthairs have rounded features, while European Shorthairs have more elongated features.

American Shorthair Fun Facts

Everything about American Shorthairs sounds fun, and there are many fun facts about this breed:

  1. Although it has access to modern cat food, American Shorthair will use any opportunity to catch some rodents and even insects if you let it play outside. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if you find some “exquisite gifts” in the form of dead animals on your doorstep.
  2. American Shorthair lived in the White House. That’s right, the family of former President George Bush Jr. had a black American Shorthair during the presidency. Her name was India, and she lived for 18 years, 8 of which she spent in the White House.
  3. For a long time, American Shorthair was considered a “working animal”. Working animals are those animals that provide some sort of work and value to their owners. In this case, American Shorthair was working as a pest control specialist!


American Shorthairs are quite common, but that doesn’t mean they are boring or less valuable. After all, they have such an interesting history. Apart from that, American Shorthairs are great pets, as they are gentle, friendly, loving, affectionate, loyal, and the list goes on!

If you want a cat that will be sociable and cuddly without being too needy, but it won’t be rare to find or too expensive, then American Shorthair is the right cat breed for you. Since it is fairly common, there is nothing stopping you from getting an American Shorthair!