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The American Shorthair is a lovely, natural breed and as their name suggests, they hail from the United States. Females tend to be smaller than their female counterparts, but both have extremely weather resistant coats that are quite harsh to the touch. They are known to be wonderful companions and family pets thanks to their easy-going, loving natures which has seen the American Shorthair become one of the most popular breeds in the States. However, anyone wishing to share their homes with one of these charming cats would need to register their interest with breeders because not many well-bred American Shorthair kittens are available in the UK every year.
It's thought that American Shorthairs found their way over to the States on ships when early settlers took their cats with them to the new world. They were used to keep vermin under control on the long sea voyagers across the Atlantic to the New World and as such, they were hardy, robust and healthy cats. They were also known to be highly intelligent which once over in America, people soon began to notice and as such, they started keeping them as pets.
When they were first shown at cat shows in the 1900s, they were called "Domestic Shorthairs", but over time and as more cats were imported to the States, breeders set in place careful and selective breeding programmes to ensure these charming cats remained a healthy, natural breed. Thanks to this careful breeding, the cats we see today are just that, a natural breed that boasts being a wonderful companion and family pet and one that's also very specific to type.
In the 1960s, the breed was renamed "American Shorthair" and it was at this time that more cats were exhibited not only in America, but elsewhere in the world including the UK. The breed gained full recognition from most of the international breed organisations although the American Shorthair has not yet been recognised by the GCCF, but they are registered with many other international breed clubs which includes TICA. Today, they remain one of the most popular breeds in the States, but anyone wishing to share their home with an American Shorthair in the UK would need to register their interest with breeders and go on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so because few well-bred kittens are available every year.
Ideal weight: Males 4.99 – 6.80 kg, Females 2.72 - 5.44 kg
The American Shorthair is finer boned and lighter than their British Shorthair cousins. They are nicely balanced, medium sized cats that boast having muscular, well put together bodies. They have lovely, large, round shaped eyes that are set well apart on their heads. Their heads being a little longer than they are wide. American Shorthairs always have a sweet, kind expression in their eyes which makes them all the more endearing. Muzzles are moderately short with cats having strong, full chins which adds to the square appearance of their faces. Their ears are medium in size having slightly rounded tips and being set well apart on a cat's head. When seen in profile, cats have a moderate stop.
Their necks are nicely in proportion to the rest of their bodies, being moderately long. They have medium length bodies that are rather rectangular in shape and with nice round contours. Cats boast having broad chests which is especially true of male Shorthairs. Females tend to be lighter and smaller than their male counterparts. Legs are moderately long and feet are well rounded. They have medium length tails being thicker at the base before tapering to the rounded tip.
When it comes to their coat, the American Shorthair boasts having an even, close-lying, lustrous coat that's quite harsh to the touch and which is extremely weather resistant. They have very distinct patterns and colours in their coats which are always clearly and well-defined. Their coats can be well in excess of eighty colours and patterns, all of which are acceptable under the breed's recognised standards with the various international cat associations.
Typical coat colours for the American Shorthair include the following:
Faults in the breed as set out by TICA include the following:
Like other breeds, the American Shorthair likes a routine and doesn't particularly like it when this changes for any reason. They like to be fed at the same time of the day and don't appreciate it when furniture gets moved around the home which can stress a cat out. With this said, the American Shorthair is known to be an easy-going character and one that's known to be extremely tolerant around children which is just one of the reasons they have remained so popular in the States.
They are calm by nature, but when the mood takes them, an American Shorthair can be very playful which includes right through to their golden years. Males are particularly laid back, whereas females tend to be a lot busier, but both adore being involved in everything that goes on in their environment because American Shorthairs thrive on being around people without ever being too demanding.
They are inquisitive by nature and being expert hunters which is deeply embedded in their DNA, they adore being able to explore the great outdoors so they can mark their territory and hunt down anything that moves. However, cats should only be allowed to roam outside if it is safe for them to do so. With this said, American Shorthairs adapt well to being kept as indoor pets as long as they are given lots of attention and things to keep them occupied when they are not napping, that is.
Some American Shorthairs like being lap cats whereas others enjoy just being close to their owners following them from room to room so they can keep an eye on what they are doing.
American Shorthairs are the perfect choice for first time cat owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain the people they love. They are particularly good with young children and older people toowhich is why they are thought of as being such wonderful companions.
American Shorthairs have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, they quickly learn how to open a cupboard door to get at any treats that might be in there. They also enjoy playing games like “fetch” and climbing high onto a platform so they can pounce on anyone who passes by.
American Shorthairs are highly adaptable cats and providing they are given enough mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in, they are just as happy living as indoor pets as they would be if they are allowed to roam the great outdoors, providing it is safe for them to do so that is.
Although American Shorthairs form strong ties with their families, they are never overly demanding and providing they have lots to do and places to hide, they are quite happy to spend a little time on their own, but never for too long.
American Shorthairs are not very vocal, but this is not to say they won’t let an owner know when it’s meal time or when they want to go outside. They have very sweet, quiet voices and when happy, they can really purr.
Like most other cats, the American Shorthair is not very fond of getting wet and may even refuse to go out when it is raining. However, like many other cats, they do enjoy playing with a dripping tap which can keep them entertained for hours.
American Shorthairs get on with everyone including dogs and other animals they already know. However, care should always be taken when they are around smaller pets which includes hamsters and guinea pigs to name but two because “hunting” is deeply embedded in the breed’s psyche. With this said, any introductions to dogs they don’t already know must be well supervised because a canine counterpart might not be so eager to get on with an American Shorthair.
American Shorthairs are known for being intelligent cats which is one of the traits that early settlers first noticed about these charming felines. They learn new things quickly and enjoy playing interactive games which includes activities like fetch the toy which they will happily bring back again and again until they get bored that is. Some cats are extremely adept at opening doors and cupboards which is part of their inquisitive nature. They have also been known to like hiding in cardboard boxes which make wonderful cat playgrounds for an American Shorthair.
American Shorthairs with their easy-going, affectionate personalities are the perfect choice for families with children and this includes toddlers. They are known to be tolerant around younger children, preferring to wriggle out of the way rather than use their claws. However, care has to be taken when very young children are around cats and any interaction should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm. With this said, children need to be taught how to behave around cats and when it's time to leave them alone.
They are social by nature and have been known to get on with small pets they have grown up. However, it's always wiser to keep a close eye on any cat when they are around smaller pets particularly when they first meet each other, bearing in mind that American Shorthairs are known to be very good, natural hunters which, as previously mentioned, is a trait that’s deeply embedded in a cat’s psyche.
American Shorthairs enjoy long lives with the average life expectancy for the breed being between 15 and 20 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit the different stages of their lives.
The American Shorthair is known to be a healthy breed and one that does seem to be affected by many hereditary conditions. The condition that seems to affect the breed the most is the following:
As with any other breed, American Shorthairs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. On top of this, cats must be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives which is especially true of kittens and older cats.
Breeders provide a feeding guide for kittens when they go to their new homes and it is important to follow the same routine to prevent any tummy upsets. A kitten should be fed more frequently than an adult cat which means giving them 3 to 4 smaller meals a day which goes a long way in keeping their digestive tracts healthy. The rule of thumb is to feed a kitten little and often throughout the day.
It’s important to give a kitten enough time to settle into a new home which allows them the time to get used to everyone including other pets, strange noises, smells and their surroundings in general. Kittens can easily be overwhelmed by things and handling them too much could end up making them nervous and withdrawn. Kittens need to adjust to new things and left to sleep without any disturbances because they need the rest to develop and grow. Introductions to other pets must be done carefully and always be well supervised.
It is also very important to “kitten proof” a house well before a new pet arrives in the home. Kittens are tiny creatures and can squeeze into the smallest of places. They are also very good at sleeping in the strangest of places which includes in a washing machine or dryer if the doors are left open. As such, doors to all appliances must be kept closed and before turning anything on, to check inside first.
Kittens are incredibly playful and when they are not sleeping, young American Shorthairs enjoy being involved in everything the family is doing. They are extremely social by nature and enjoy the company of people without ever being overly demanding. With this said, American Shorthairs like to follow an owner around to watch what they are doing all the while taking everything in.
Being clean cats and intelligent too, litter training a kitten is generally easy. However, litter trays must be kept clean because kittens and cats do not like using dirty litters which is why many of them do their “business” elsewhere. It’s best to avoid litters that “clump” in a kitten’s litter tray because if they ingest even a small amount, it could lead to a digestive problem because a clumping litter would swell up and cause a blockage.
It is also important not to tell an American Shorthair kitten off for getting things wrong when they have an accident around the house instead of using their litter tray. If an accident happens, gently pick the kitten up and put them in their litter tray as a way of reminding them that is where they go to the toilet.
It’s essential for a kitten to be kept indoors because like all cats, like many other cats, American Shorthairs have no road sense when they are young or as adults so it’s best to keep them in until they are fully vaccinated because they are susceptible to contracting a nasty and life-threatening disease namely feline infectious enteritis (FIE), cat flu and feline leukaemia virus (FeLv).
Like all cats, when an American Shorthair reaches their golden years, they need extra care. It’s important to keep an eye on their teeth and to make sure they see a vet if there are any signs of dental issues which includes gingivitis. A lot of cats develop dental problems and if left unchecked, it can lead to painful abscesses and tumours which can lead to an early death. Some cats get a bit fussier about their food when they reach their golden years and it’s worth discussing things with a vet more especially if any kidney problems are suspected.
The American Shorthair boasts having short, dense, close lying coat and as such they are low maintenance on the grooming front. A weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather is all it takes to keep their coats in good condition with a nice sheen on it. Like other breeds, they tend to shed the most in the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to keep on top of things.
It's also important to check a cat's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections. Cats often suffer from ear mites which can be a real problem which is why it's so important to check their ears every week or so.
American Shorthairs are easy-going by nature, but they can be extremely playful and like interactive games like fetch the toy when the mood takes them. They remain playful right through their lives and well into their golden years. However, because they are so laid back, they are never overly demanding and are quite happy just to be with the people they love which is part of their endearing personalities. Like all cats, they like to explore the great outdoors but should only be allowed to roam outside if it is safe for them to do so. The good news is that Shorthairs adapt well to being kept as indoor pets providing they are given lots of toys and things to play with when nobody is around to keep them company.
Cats kept as indoor pets need to be given lots of things to do and places to hide when they want to, bearing in mind that American Shorthairs like high vantage points so they can keep an eye on what's happening in the world below. They also need to have lots of places they can snuggle up for a snooze because if there is one thing American Shorthairs really like doing, it's taking a nap or two during the day.
If you get an American Shorthair kitten from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same kitten food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a kitten's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older cats are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature cat several times a day making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements which is especially important as cats get older. It's also essential to keep an eye on a cat's weight because if they start to put on too much, it can have a serious impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Like all other breeds, American Shorthairs need access to fresh, clean water at all times.
An American Shorthair kitten’s growth rate is very fast from the moment they are born right up to when they are 4 months old when they should be anything from 5 to 7 times heavier than when they were first born. It’s when their skeletal structure is developing and energy needs are extremely high.
From 4 months right up to when an American Shorthair is 12 months old, a kitten’s growth rate begins to slow down which allows their skeletal structure to strengthen while at the same time, it’s when their muscles develop. It is a time when a kitten’s energy needs are extremely high.
As a rough guide an American Shorthair kitten should be fed the following amounts in any 24 hour period making sure they are fed little and often:
Adult American Shorthairs should be fed a good quality diet to suit their ages. As a rough guide, an mature cat should be fed the following amounts in any 24 hour period:
If you are looking to buy an American Shorthair, you would need to pay upwards of £300 for a well-bred kitten and you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because not many well-bred kittens are available every year. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old American Shorthair in northern England would be £14.97 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £26.14 a month (quote as of June 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a cat's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a cat’s life. This would set you back between £15 - £20 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an American Shorthair and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a cat when the time is right together with their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £600 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an American Shorthair would be between £40 to £60 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your cat, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a healthy, well-bred kitten.
When visiting and buying any kitten or cat, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic kitten/cat advice here which includes making sure you see the kitten with its mother and to verify that the cat has been wormed and microchipped.
American Shorthairs are a popular breed in the United States, but very few kittens are bred in the UK which means that well-bred kittens can often command a lot of money and waiting lists long. As such, with American Shorthairs there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a kitten which are as follows:
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