These cats were originally working cats that controlled rats, mice and other vermin on board ships and later in homesteads, farms and places of business. Since then these hardy, sociable cats have become popular domestic cat breeds.History
There is evidence that the American Shorthair originated in Britain and came in U.S. with the settlers on the Mayflower in 1620. In fact, some may have reached the "New World" even earlier with those pioneers who went to the Jamestown colony in Virginia. These early cats were working cats who kept the ships and later the homes, farms and businesses free of rats, mice and other types of vermin.
These stocky, strong, sure-footed and hardy cats adapted extremely well to the new conditions and earned a reputation for their hunting prowess. A publication from 1634 goes so far as to credit the American Shorthair for saving the crops in New England from chipmunks and squirrels.
1895 saw the first formal cat show in America and the American Shorthair made its appearance there. In 1906 the breed was recognised by the CFA. Sixty years later these purebred cats were given the name American Shorthair.
During the late 18oo's and early 1900's, breeders started to select specific attributes and characteristics. For example, they bred cats for a range of over 80 colours and patterns and with the big head, a wide muzzle, strong jaw, gentle expression and warm nature that characterizes the breed today.Personality
The American Shorthair is a quiet, curious and intelligent cat that takes a keen interest in the world around it. These cats are calm and laid-back. They adapt well to change (especially if food is used as the incentive).
Like their ancestors, the modern American Shorthair is an athletic, agile, expert and enthusiastic hunter. Birds, small animals such as rodents and even insects are all fair game for these cats. So, if you don’t want a cat that will catch birds and so on this is not the breed for you. However, these cats can sometimes be trained to leave alone any birds and other small animals that are in the family if introduced to them early on and taught that they are "siblings", not food!
Although these cats are seldom lap cats, they are very gentle and playful. They are social and demonstrative without being at all aloof. In other words, they will enjoy your company, play with you and will love you, but will be able to be on their own and entertain themselves.
Their sociable natures extend beyond their owner or family as they usually get on well with cat-friendly dogs. They are not talkative cats but they are communicative as they use their bodies and facial expressions to communicate.
The American Shorthair is perhaps described as a happy medium cat: sociable but not demanding, loving but not clingy, independent but not aloof and active but calm. This makes them the ideal feline companion for a range of types of households from single people to families to more elderly individuals.
The American Shorthair is one of the more intelligent of the cat breeds with a very healthy dose of natural feline curiosity. The American Shorthair, like most cats, practically house trains themselves. These cats can easily be taught to use a scratching post, play fetch, to sit, run an agility course and walk on a lead or leash. They also enjoy puzzles and toys, especially ones that involve stalking, chasing or pouncing, as this imitates the hunting activities they are so good at.
While these cats certainly love playing, they are not demanding. Your cat will - quietly and politely - let you know if its feeling play deprived!Appearance
These cats are medium to large in size and have powerfully built and athletic bodies. The males reach 11 – 15 lbs (5 – 7 kg) and the females weigh between 6 and 12 lbs (2.5 – 5.5 kg). Their bones are heavy and they are very well muscled. Some describe the American Shorthair as “stocky” or even “chunky”. Their build, bones and musculature mean that they feel heavy when you pick them up.
This breed is recognised in a wide range of colours and markings. The most common and popular of these is the silver coat with strong black markings. The breed's range, however, consists of more than 80 patterns and colours. These range from all white cats with blue eyes to tabbies, calicoes and those with darker coats of browns or black. Various combinations of colours and markings are normal in the American Shorthair.
These cats have a thick, dense coat which becomes both longer and thicker in the cold months.Health
The American Shorthair is a robust, healthy and strong cat that will live for 15 to 20 years if it is well cared for.