Looking for a cat that will be a gentle companion, a playmate for your children, and a full-fledged member of the family? Look no further than the American Shorthair. This breed is known for its longevity, robust health, good looks, quiet disposition and amiability with children and dogs. The American Shorthair is America’s own breed, whose ancestors came to North America with early settlers from Europe. Records indicate that the “Mayflower” carried several cats to hunt ship’s rats. For centuries, “working cats” flourished along with their pioneer owners and eventually established themselves as the native North American shorthaired cat. Their beauty and loving nature came to be valued as much as their rat-catching skills. One brown tabby American Shorthair was even offered for sale for $2,500 at the Second Annual Cat Show at Madison Square Garden in 1896. Imagine what that would be in today’s dollars! Early in the 20th century, foreign breeds imported to the United States (Longhairs and Siamese) interbred with native shorthaired cats, producing kittens with varied coat lengths, body styles, color and temperament. Those who wished to preserve the North American shorthaired cat acquired the finest examples of the breed and began mating them selectively to preserve the breed’s conformation, beautiful face and sweet disposition, while perfecting the patterns and colors characteristic of the American Shorthair as we know it today. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) chose to officially recognize this lovely cat as one of its first five registered breeds in 1906.
Originally known as the Domestic Shorthair, the breed was renamed “American Shorthair” in 1966 to better represent its “All American” character and to differentiate it from any other shorthaired breed. The name “American Shorthair” also reinforces the idea that our native North American shorthaired cat is distinctly different from what may be found in streets, neighborhoods and barnyards.
By chance, a non-pedigreed shorthaired cat (or “Domestic Shorthair”) might resemble an American Shorthair, just as another random-bred cat might look like a Siamese, Persian or Maine Coon. The difference, however, is that a pedigreed cat can consistently produce kittens of the same physical conformation, coat quality, and temperament, while a random-bred cat cannot. Years of selective breeding and the careful recording of many generations of cats guarantee that each litter of kittens will have specific qualities.
The American Shorthair has made steady progress in the show ring. There have been dozens of American Shorthairs achieving recognition at the national level, including two CFA “Cats of the Year” and one CFA “Kitten of the Year.” American Shorthairs are often selected as “Best Cat in Show,” and each year more than a hundred become Grand Champions, Grand Premiers and Distinguished Merit cats, as well as regional and national level winners. American Shorthairs are low-maintenance cats. These beautiful cats are not only lovely to look at, but healthy, easy-going and affectionate. Males are significantly larger than females, weighing eleven to fifteen pounds when fully grown. Mature females weigh eight to twelve pounds when they achieve full growth at three to four years of age. American Shorthairs can live fifteen to twenty years, requiring only annual vaccinations, veterinary checkups, a quality diet and plenty of tender loving care.
It’s no wonder that the American Shorthair consistently ranks as one of the ten most popular breeds of cat — truly a star in the feline world.The American Shorthair is recognized in more than eighty different colors and patterns ranging from the striking brown patched tabby to the glistening blue-eyed white, the beautiful shaded silvers, smokes and cameos to the flashy calico van, and many colors in between. The most well-known American Shorthair color today is the silver tabby, with dense black markings set on a sterling silver background. You probably have seen an example of this striking variety in television and magazine advertising or in recent movie roles.
Pricing on American Shorthairs usually depends on type, applicable markings and bloodlines distinguished by Grand Champion (GC), National, National Breed and/or Regional winning parentage (NW, BW, RW) or of Distinguished Merit parentage (DM). The DM title is achieved by the dam (mother) having produced five CFA grand champion/premier (alter) or DM offspring, or sire (father) having produced fifteen CFA grand champion/premier or DM offspring. Usually breeders make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment, showing, or being transported by air. Keeping such a rare treasure indoors, neutering or spaying and providing acceptable surfaces (e.g. scratching posts) for the natural behavior of scratching (CFA disapproves of declawing or tendonectomy surgery) are essential elements for maintaining a healthy, long and joyful life.
Text: Bob Zenda
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 09, 2009 at 9:02:24 AM