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The American Shorthair is known for its longevity, robust health, calm disposition, good looks, friendliness and gentleness. It is a true native American breed that comes in a variety of colors, although it does not come in a pointed pattern like that of the Siamese. The best known American Shorthairs are the dramatically marked silver tabbies, which have been popular in commercial advertisements and movies.
The American Shorthair ranges in size from medium to large. It is well-built and powerful, with a short, dense coat and large, piercing round eyes.
This breed is less square in shape and larger than its counterpart, the British Shorthair. It also has a more oblong rather than a round head, larger ears and longer legs. This is a low-maintenance breed that only requires occasional brushing to keep its coat fresh and manage mild shedding.
The ancestors of today’s American Shorthair came to North America with early European settlers. Domestic cats reportedly were brought to America in the early 1600s, aboard the Mayflower and other ships, where they earned their keep by controlling ship-borne rats and other rodent populations.
There was no indigenous feline population in the United States before the first European colonies were established. As early pioneers moved inland and developed the American frontier, their cats accompanied them and flourished as working family members. These cats were prized not only as pets, but also as talented hunters and rodent exterminators.
The domestic shorthair gradually populated the entire continent, in both domestic and feral environments. The rough conditions under which their early ancestors lived contributed to the strength and adaptability of today’s representatives of this popular breed.
By the 1700s, the domestic shorthair was a common member of American households. By the 1800s, they were also popular residents of many United States postal offices, where they kept the mail from being eaten by rats and mice.
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Early in the twentieth century, a number of foreign feline breeds were brought to America and cross-bred with the now-native American shorthairs. This led to litters of kittens without reliable similarity in type or temperament.
Fanciers of the domestic American shorthair began to breed their best specimens selectively, in an attempt to keep the breed pure in terms of disposition, body style, coat length, coat pattern and color. The Cat Fanciers’ Association of America (CFA) recognized the Shorthair for registration in 1906, as one of its first five breeds. Originally called the Shorthair, and then the Domestic Shorthair, the breed’s name was officially changed to the American Shorthair in 1966, after a lovely silver tabby won the title of US Cat of the Year in 1965.
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