American Shorthairs are generally found to the U.S. and Canada. While they share some characteristics with domestic mixed-breed cats, breeders are quick to point out the differences between the Shorthair and the common alley cat.
- There are over 100 different coat colors and patterns for this breed, but the silver tabby is the most popular.
- Larger, sturdier, healthier and with longer legs than most mixed breeds.
- Medium-sized to large, weigh about 10 to 14 pounds (males are larger).
- Muzzles have a distinctive square shape.
- Coat is thick for a shorthair and feels hard and firm. Each strand of hair is the same length so the coat does not look shaggy like some mixed-breed cats.
- Very similar to British Shorthair, but larger, and with a less-rounded face.
Temperament of American Shorthairs:
- These cats enjoy human companionship, but they are not demanding.
- Playful, but not destructive.
- Because they are easy-going, they adapt well to children and other cats (and sometimes dogs), as well as a new home.
- Independent and confident cats. They will love you, but you are not the center of their universe.
The American Shorthairs came to the United States with the first settlers, who put them to work killing rodents on the ships. Some historians even believe that at least one of these cats was aboard the Mayflower when it sailed to America in 1620. These cats evolved into the American Shorthair as they adjusted to their new environment. They became larger to protect themselves against the increased number of predators, and their coat became denser to protect them against inclement weather.
Once in America, American Shorthairs were desired because they killed disease carrying mice and rats. During the California Gold Rush their popularity again rose as people paid up to $50, a lot of money at the time, for a mouse hunting cat.
Eventually, American Shorthairs mated with other cats and the original breed was almost lost. The breed was first labeled Domestic Shorthair, but in the 1960s the name was changed because they were being confused with domestic mixed-breed housecats.
There are no known genetic problems associated specifically with the American Shorthair breed.