American Shorthair Cat
What is an American Shorthair Cat?
The American Shorthair cat is believed to be descended from British cats who began emigrating to the New World with the early pioneers. They were carried on board ship to kill the rats that were a constant menace, eating the precious food supplies and spreading disease. History records that cats even came along on the Mayflower.
They were kept and allowed to breed by the early settlers for the same reason, to protect food supplies. Originally they lived mostly as working farm cats, highly valued for their hunting abilities.
In the early 20th century, other breeds of cat began to be imported to the USA as pets. They mixed with the working cats and so kittens were born with different coat lengths and temperaments. At this time, breeders who wished to preserve the original breed began to identify fine examples of what was then called the Domestic Shorthair and breed from them. These breeders have concentrated on maintaining the beauty and affectionate nature of these cats while perfecting their coat patterns and colors. The name was changed to American Shorthair in the 1960s.
The American Shorthair is a medium sized to large cat, with strong hind legs and paws. The muzzle is wider than many other breeds, giving a square look to the face. Males have a pronounced jowl. They are full grown at three or four years old. The coat is thick although a little thinner than the coat of the British shorthair. It thickens in winter and sheds in spring.
There are over 100 recognized varieties of color including black, white, silver, cream, red, brown, blue, tabby, calico or tortoiseshell, and bi-colored cats. Their eyes are round. Eye color, nose and pad depend on the color of the coat. Some varieties may have each eye a different color. The silver tabby is the most popular.
The tail must taper to a blunt tip without any kinks.
The American Shorthair is a gentle, affectionate cat that makes a marvelous pet. They get on well with children and most other pets, being even-tempered and quiet. For that reason they are always one of the most popular breeds of cat. They are easy to train and are also the most popular choice for film and advertising directors when they need a feline star.
American Shorthairs are happy to be either an indoor or an outdoor cat. If allowed outdoors they will indulge their hunting instincts and often bring home their prey.
They are a healthy, long-lived breed with an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. However, the American Shorthair cat easily gains weight and owners have to be careful not to allow this to endanger their pet’s health or happiness.
David M Peterson
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