When it comes to some of America’s most beloved domesticated felines, you can’t get much better than the American Shorthair—a classic in every sense of the word. Once working cats, these sweet cats have made their way into the homes of thousands of families and have proven themselves to be the perfect match for households with children, thanks to their laidback and friendly demeanors. Read on to find out more about this lovable cat breed!
Basic Characteristics of American Shorthairs
There are a lot of domestic shorthaired breeds out there, but the American Shorthair officially came into play in the early 1900s. Many qualities went into the breed formerly identified as “Domestic Shorthair” cats. Still, after a few decades, breeders loved the build, temperament, and unique differences that would soon be narrowed down and labeled as “American Shorthair.”
American Shorthairs are an average-sized cat breed that often grows to be about 10 to 15 pounds for males and just a few pounds less for females. Due to having initially been brought over to America as working cats, this breed has long been known for its athletic and muscular build that’s contributed to them being excellent rodent catchers. They have short and relatively low-maintenance coats that are easily kept in great shape with just some weekly brushing.
As far as history goes with this breed, Belle, a short-haired orange tabby, was the first cat registered in America (despite being imported from England). Still, the first real American-born American Shorthair cat was born and registered in 1904 and was a kitten named “Buster Brown.” As of the 1950s, breeders tried to incorporate new and different characteristics into American Shorthairs. They did this by mixing in features from the Persian breed to “improve” American Shorthairs, but this simply disqualified these new hybrids from being registered as ASH due to proponents of the original version of the breed insisting the breed standard was still best.
The Temperament of American Shorthairs
When it comes to their temperament, American Shorthairs are ideal for pet parents looking for a cat that can be independent when needed and be a loving family member ready for snuggles or playtime. This breed is incredibly good-natured and known for being an excellent option for families with small children. American Shorthairs also tend to do well in a household with other cats and even dogs. However, there is always a risk that their prey drive may take over if they’re in a home with smaller animals like birds, rodents, or reptiles.
American Shorthairs are tons of fun to play with and enjoy regular engagement. They are also perfectly content to simply sit by your side without any fuss. They love to interact and have great, friendly personalities, but they typically are not fond of being smothered or carried around due to their high level of independence. As an added benefit, though, this also means that they won’t try to get in your face nor endlessly prod you for petting and playtime 24/7. American Shorthairs are the ideal balance of a great companion and a furry family member that can also entertain itself when needed.
Exercise for American Shorthairs
Exercise is an essential part of caring for your American Shorthair cat and ensuring that your fur baby stays in good shape and avoids unnecessary weight gain. ASH cats are a very energetic and playful breed and need daily exercise and playtime to keep them as mentally and physically healthy as possible. These working cats have a high prey drive since they were previously bred and used for pest control and catching rodents. Their high level of intelligence also causes them to become bored quickly.
Some of the best ways to exercise your American Shorthair cat are to ensure that they have plenty of room to run within the home, have prey-like toys to chase and bat around, and also have plenty of vertical features in the house to allow them to climb and play and burn off some of that energy. American Shorthairs are great at entertaining themselves in your absence. However, they still need that one-on-one attention and playtime each day, and you can expect them to get a bit destructive if their physical and mental stimulation needs are not appropriately met.
Numerous toys and scratching posts along with plenty of space should be sufficient in helping your feline family member have a blast while you’re busy or at work, and having their playtime with you once you’re home and ready should cover your bases and leave you with one delighted fur baby.
Grooming Your American Shorthair
American Shorthairs have very moderate grooming needs, but regular care should be sufficient to avoid any real problems. Weekly brushing is ideal for helping keep down some of the moderate amounts of shedding, but this is most important during periods of seasonal change whenever the cat’s coat goes through significant amounts of shedding or thickening.
Due to being initially bred to be outdoor rodent-catching cats, they have a short and thick coat that’s quite hardy. These cats rarely have any problems with matting as long as they receive regular brushing, but an occasional bath around every 4 to 6 weeks is also ideal for keeping their fur clean, soft, and shiny.
Vet/Medical Care for American Shorthairs
Despite being working cats known for being quite physical, American Shorthairs are prone to struggling with obesity and are at a relatively high risk of acquiring hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is the most commonly diagnosed heart condition in felines and causes enlargement of their heart muscles. This condition appears to be hereditary in many cases, but there is no genetic testing available to determine if the condition exists before birth. However, regular veterinary care is essential in staying on top of health concerns and allowing your fur baby’s physician to provide early detection before this condition or any others becomes a significant health concern.
American Shorthairs may also have trouble with hip dysplasia. This condition is typically hereditary but, in most cases, well-prevented with regular veterinary care, reasonable and consistent exercise, and a healthy diet to allow your cat to maintain a suitable weight and meet its nutrition requirements for optimum joint health.
In great news, American Shorthairs are far less likely than most other cat breeds ever to have to deal with tumors, cancers, or any other organ-related troubles. This is a very healthy breed thanks to their great genetics, and they often live a happy and healthy life of up to 20 years!
Bringing an American Shorthair Kitty Home
Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting time for any pet parent, but it’s essential to make sure your home is well-prepared for your new furry family member! Make sure your American Shorthair has a proper setup with a good-sized litter box, the best possible food to ensure a healthy diet to help combat future health concerns, and plenty of toys and vertical means of travel throughout your home to keep them active and entertained.
When looking for an ASH to add to your family, there’s no way to guarantee you’re getting a purebred American Shorthair cat unless you go through a reputable breeder. However, this can cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,500 to adopt an ASH that comes with papers! Suppose you’re looking to save on excessive expenses as well as do a needy cat a favor.
In that case, there are plenty of American Shorthair and mixed Domestic Shorthair cats available in shelters and foster homes just waiting to be taken home and loved by their forever family. If 100% confirmation of your ASH’s bloodline isn’t a top priority, we’d strongly recommend giving one of these other sweet cats a chance, and you’ll find them just as fun, friendly, and fantastic as the American Shorthair you’ve had in mind this whole time.
Although they are great rodent catchers and were previously designed to work outdoors, it’s also recommended that you keep your new furry strictly as an indoor cat to ensure maximum safety for their physical and overall health. Don’t forget to stay on top of those regular vet visits, too, so you can have a long, healthy, and happy life together!
And again, if there’s ever anything you may need when adopting and bringing home your new kitten, always feel free to reach out to us at Space Coast Pet Services for whichever services you may need.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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