July 2, 2013 PetGuide
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American Shorthair

  • Height: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 10-15 lb
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Physique: Medium boned, muscular
  • Best Suited For: Families with children or pets, singles, first-time cat owners
  • Temperament: Easy-going, curious, active, playful
  • Comparable Breeds: Ocicat, Egyptian Mau

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The American Shorthair has his place in history, arriving in the United States with the Mayflower. This working cat served the first settlers well, keeping mice and other vermin at bay. Beautiful and sturdy, these “rat catchers” became a beloved fixture in many households. In the late 19th century, cat fanciers became interested in refining a show quality line of this all-American feline. In 1906 the Cat Fancier’s Association recognized its first five registered breeds, including the Domestic Shorthair, which has been called the American Shorthair since 1966. Now a purposefully developed breed, with genetic traits cultivated to enhance his amiable disposition and beautiful, sturdy conformation,  the low-maintenance American Shorthair is no “alley” cat and remains one of the most popular of all cats in the U.S.

The American Shorthair is an easy-going cat that openly displays affection and does well with children and dogs.

american-shorthair-1The American Shorthair is an easy-going cat that openly displays affection and does well with children and dogs. They do, however, like their quiet time and may disappear throughout the day to get it. They are fairly independent, and since they do not typically suffer from separation anxiety, they can be left alone while their humans are off at work. They will play when asked to do so, but they are also great nappers. These quiet cats rarely use their voices. The descriptive most commonly used for the breed is “easy,” which explains their high level of popularity as companions.

The American Shorthair is a robust, long-lived cat, easily reaching age 15 and greater. They have sturdy good looks derived from their “working” heritage. The American Shorthair’s genetics have equipped the breed to be premier mousers and pursuers of small vermin, which accounts for their solid, athletic build. With well-developed chests, shoulders and hindquarters, they excel at jumping and pouncing, and are quite fast over short distances. Males are larger, attaining a weight of as much as 15 lbs while females seldom weigh more than 12 lbs.

american-shorthair-2There are more than eighty different recognized colors and patterns for the American Shorthair. These included brown-patched tabby, white (with blue eyes), silver, smoke, cameo, calico, black, brown, and every conceivable blend and combination in between. This variety, coupled with the Shorthair’s fantastic disposition, makes it one of the most popular breeds in America. This is the animal most people think of when they hear the word “cat.”

Most American Shorthairs have a dense, short coat that does not require any special grooming. Shedding is generally moderate, and since the amiable Shorthair will readily consent to a nice brushing, that little amount of attention will keep stray hairs out of the house, and give the cat’s coat a lovely, healthy sheen. If an American Shorthair becomes unduly dirty due to circumstances beyond its control, the cat will usually submit to a bath, but normally these cats can be left to their own devices in matters of grooming. Matting is rarely if ever a problem with this breed.

Photo credit: Paisit Teeraphatsakool/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to Ocicat


  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 6-15 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Physique: Medium to large breed
  • Best Suited For: Families with children and other pets. Does not like to be alone.
  • Temperament: Friendly, sociable, vocal. Very people oriented. Needs lots of attention.
  • Comparable Breeds: Oriental
Go to Egyptian Mau

Egyptian Mau

  • Height: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 7-9 lb
  • Lifespan: 18-20 years
  • Physique: Muscular, long body
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, singles with other pets
  • Temperament: Athletic, intelligent, loyal, playful
  • Comparable Breeds: American Shorthair, Ocicat