American Shorthair: Cat Breed Profile

Posted in: Cat Breeds - Last Updated: January 14, 2022 - Author: Rebekah Carter
Posted in Cat Breeds 
Last Updated: February 8, 2021  
Author:  Rebekah Carter

The American Shorthair is a popular medium-sized cat with a wonderfully gentle nature. Many experts recommend American Shorthairs as companions for families with pets and children. Descended from cats brought over on shipping vessels from Europe, the American Shorthair is one of the most common pedigree cats in North America.

The endearing personality of the American Shorthair makes it an excellent choice for people in search of adaptable cats that can thrive in any circumstance. These adorable kitties are playful and happy pets, though they can be independent too.

A Quick History of the American Shorthair

The American Shorthair arrived in America as a result of European settlers coming to North America with their own cats. The European ancestors of the American Shorthair often lived on ships to help with capturing rodents and hunting pests. Many ships used to carry cats to help them deal with rat-laden shipping vessels. 

Some experts believe that American Shorthairs originally came over on the Mayflower, and that some of these cats may have even made the trip a little earlier than this. Once in America, the cats began breeding and developed their traits as American kitties. The personalities of the American Shorthair means they continue to be extremely popular, and many are selectively bred to maintain their endearing qualities.

Many of the physical traits of the American Shorthair trace back to their ancestors. For instance, the American Shorthair has a dense coat that’s brilliant for withstanding colder weather when hunting in the outdoors. The name American Shorthair carries over from that specific trait.

American Shorthair Breed Overview

American Shorthairs are healthy and popular cats with a long lifespan. Though they’re not as athletic as some other cats, American Shorthairs do have a lot of muscle and power. They maintained this trait from their ancestors, hunting rodents on boats.

  • Weight: Between 11 and 15 pounds for males, or 6 to 12 pounds for females
  • Length: 12 to 15 inches
  • Coat: Short but dense
  • Coat color: Lots of options including black, white, blue, cream, chinchilla, brown, cameo, and tortoiseshell.
  • Eye color: Hazel, green, blue, copper, or gold
  • Life expectancy: 15 to 20 years

Characteristics / Attitude of the American Shorthair

American Shorthairs remain popular in North America and throughout the rest of America due to their endearing personality. From a physical perspective, the most memorable feature of the breed is the slightly rounded and flattened face, similar to a Persian. The coat of the American Shorthair is also short and thick, with a density that increases in the winter.

American Shorthairs are now available in more than 80 different patterns and colors. These affectionate and loving cats are wonderful lap cats, and great for companionship.

American Shorthair Characteristics & Attitudes

  • Friendliness: High
  • Affection level: High
  • Child friendly: High
  • Pet friendly: High
  • Playfulness: High
  • Energy level: Medium
  • Exercise requirements: Medium
  • Intelligence: Medium
  • Tendency to vocalize: Medium
  • Shedding: Medium

American Shorthair Cat Breed Care

One of the things that makes the American Shorthair so appealing is how much they love to play. This active cats like socializing with other people, but they’re not overly clingy. Your feline friend will be more than happy to entertain themselves when they have the right tools to do so. 

Leaving plenty of toys for your cat to interact with around the home should keep your American Shorthair happy, and there aren’t too many worries here with separation anxiety. Making sure your American Shorthair gets enough exercise and setting aside time for one-on-one play is essential. A kitty companion might be a good idea if you find that your cat is a little restless, as the American Shorthair gets on well with other animals. 

When it comes to grooming, don’t be fooled by the short hair coat of your new cat. Although these felines don’t require the most grooming of any breed, they do need some brushing because of how thick the coat is. Weekly brushings are ideal to improve coat health, and standard grooming practices are important too. Ensure your cat’s teeth, clean his ears, and trim the claws when necessary. 

If you’re concerned that you don’t have a lot of time to spend spoiling your cat, then the American Shorthair might be a good choice. These cats tolerate being left on their own quite well. Though they’re affectionate too, these kitties don’t mind having some time to themselves.

American Shorthair Common Health Issues

All cats can suffer from some health issues. The best way to protect your feline friend is to take them to the vet for regular checkups, and ensure they have all the right vaccinations and care. One thing to be wary of is that American Shorthairs are sometimes prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – which is a common heart issue that applies to a lot of pedigree cats.


Photo courtesy of

While HCM can sometimes be traced in genetics, meaning that you can always check with your breeder, there’s always a chance that the disease might appear in any cat.

Another thing to be aware of is your cat’s weight. Obesity is a significant problem for a lot of felines, including the American Shorthair. Obesity leads to a lot of medical problems, from diabetes, to heart disease. Talk with your vet at the next annual exam for your cat about a health exercise routine and diet for your new furry pal.

Recommended Diets for the American Shorthair

American Shorthairs are sturdy and robust cats. For the most part, you’ll be able to feed this cat a standard diet, but you will need to be wary of how much you give your cat each day to ensure that they don’t become overweight. Speak to your doctor about how to measure and provide the right serving of food.

While American Shorthairs can have a long lifespan, it’s worth remembering that this is dependent on a lot of things, including the kind of diet they get. The food you give your American Shorthair will fuel their muscular stature. If you’re concerned about how to feed your American Shorthair, or you think your cat is becoming overweight, speak to your vet.

American Shorthair Cat - Pros & Cons



  • Incredibly friendly household companions
  • Get along with people and other pets well
  • Don’t mind spending time alone
  • Don’t require as much grooming as some pedigrees
  • Excellent for snuggling
  • Beautiful range of colors and patterns


  • Quite susceptible to rapid weight gain
  • Require a regular amount of brushing
  • Quite heavy – may not be suitable for people who have trouble with their arm strength.

Some Helpful Facts about the American Shorthair Breed

American Shorthairs are delightful felines with tons of love to give. These fun and affectionate cats got their name to help differentiate them from other cats with a similar appearance, but no genetic traits. Arriving in America from the Mayflower, according to historical reports, the American Shorthairs you see today aren’t the same as domestic shorthairs. 

One fun thing to note about the American Shorthair is that it can come in a huge selection of different colors and patterns, so you know you’re going to get a feline that’s pretty unique. Another bonus is that these beautiful cats come with big wide eyes that make them look extra adorable. 

American Shorthairs are particularly cute as kittens with their tufty fur and their large cartoon style eyes. It’s easy to fall in love with these cats.

Final Thoughts of the American Shorthair

If you’re looking for a popular cat with a lot of love to give, and you don’t want to spend a fortune on a pedigree, then an American Shorthair could be just the cat for you. Although these felines require a little more attention and maintenance than your standard domestic Shorthair, they’re pretty laid-back and easy-going, and don’t require too much attention.

American Shorthairs will give you affection and love when you need it, while also looking after themselves at times too. Just remember to watch that weight, and ensure that your Shorthair gets regular checkups at the vets.

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About the author

Rebekah Carter is a dedicated animal lover. Her Savannah cat, Roscoe, has a lot of attitude, while her Maine Coon, Dukino, is full of love. When not writing, she’s looking after her cats and researching ways to help them live their best possible life. Her passion for animals and natural skill for writing led her to pursue pet blogging.