American Shorthair Cat, Domestic Shorthair Cat Breed
Felis domesticus

The American Shorthair Cat is a friendly mild-mannered breed, and makes a superb pet cat!

This is a natural breed of cat that is as American as baseball and apple pie. Its family has been in America for over 400 years. The American Shorthair Cat is descended from cats arriving in America with the pilgrims. These early cats were used to control rats onboard the sailing vessels, and were commonly referred to as Mousers. It has a muscular body and a refined alley cat appearance that easily distinguishes it from other breeds. The American Shorthair Cat is a friendly, hardy, low maintenance cat breed.

American Shorthair Cats are social, playful cats that can also be gentle and calm. This is one of the most popular American cat breeds and an excellent addition to any family. They are natural hunters, but with their mild mannered demeanor, can do well both indoors and out. They are good cats for families with children and other pets, but because of their hunter instincts, do be watchful with small rodent type pets.

The American Shorthair Cats were known in their early history as Domestic Shorthair Cats. As the breed developed, fanciers became concerned that such a common name would impede the breed’s potential success, so the name American Shorthair was adopted. Today the term “domestic shorthair” is used in a general sense to describe any shorthaired cat that does not belong to a recognized cat breed.

For information about keeping a pet cat, see:
Cat Care: How to Take Care of a Cat

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Felidae
  • Genus: Felis
  • Species: domesticus


This breed originated in Europe, but has resided in America for approximately 400 years. The American Shorthair Cat, then known as the Domestic Shorthair cat , is believed to have been descended from rodent-controlling cats brought to America on the Mayflower in 1620. Over time, selective specimens of this common alley cat were bred with other breeds, such as the British Shorthair, Burmese, and Persian, creating the Domestic Shorthair. Despite its muscular, clean-cut appearance, many cat shows would not allow this breed to enter.

In 1904, Buster Brown, a male smoke, became the first registered American-bred Domestic Shorthair. By the 1960’s, the Domestic Shorthair was becoming a more respected breed and was winning prizes at shows. Domestic Shorthair enthusiasts were concerned that its name was impeding the breed’s potential success. As a result, they decided to give this breed the new title of American Shorthair.

Today the common name for this natural breed cat isAmerican Shorthair Cat. In its early history it was called the Domestic Shorthair Cats. Fanciers, as they developed the breed, became concerned that that common name could impact the future success of the breed, so renamed them American Shorthair Cats. A domestic shorthair cat today is a general term describing any cat with shorthair that is not pedigreed, or belonging to a recognized cat breed.


American Shorthairs are muscular, heavy-bodied, medium to large sized cats. Its weight ranges from 8 to 15 pounds. They have short, rounded heads, medium, rounded paws, and medium length tails. Their eyes are large and wide with almond shaped upper lids and round, circular lower lids. Males are larger than females and have defined jowls. They are a hardy breed with an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years old.

The American Shorthair’s coat is short (hence the name American Shorthair) and dense. They come in over a hundred different color forms. The basic color types are Solid, Shaded and Silver, Smoke, Tabby, Smoke and White, Tabby and White, Parti-color, and Bi-color. A short sample of some of the specific colors includes Red, Shell Cameo, Tortoiseshell Smoke, Silver Patched Tabby, Black Smoke and White, Van-Blue Cream and White, Tortie, and Calico.

Care and Feeding

American Shorthairs require no special diets or supplements. However, like the British Shorthair, they are prone to becoming overweight, so you should be careful not to over feed them. To prevent a weight problem condition, simply control the amount of food the cat consumes and play with the cat to increase its activity level.

Housing Your Cat

American Shorthairs can live inside or outside. They are natural hunters, so they will enjoy having time outside, but they can be kept as indoor cats as well.


This breed is an extremely low-maintenance breed. Just like any other breed, a weekly brushing is beneficial to the health of their coat.

Social Behaviors

American Shorthairs are gentle, friendly, even-tempered cats that enjoy being around other people and animals, but do not require constant attention. Since they are natural hunters, it is advised that any small pets be securely kept in their cages or aquariums, unless they can be closely supervised.


This breed enjoys playing running about, and hunting to get exercise. If your cat is not getting enough exercise on its own, you should make a point to play with it at least five to ten minutes a day, in order to decrease its risk of becoming overweight. This can happen indoors or outdoors.


These cats can be weaned at as early as eight weeks, but it is better to wait until they are twelve weeks old. American Shorthairs are considered to be fully grown when they are 3 or 4 years old.

Common Health Problems

American Shorthairs are generally known as healthy cats. The only health condition they are prone to is obesity. To prevent this condition, simply control the amount of food the cat consumes and play with the cat to increase its activity level. You can also feed it a diet formulated for overweight or obese cats. If your cat is obese, it is important to bring it to a veterinarian for a check-up, to rule out any thyroid or metabolic conditions.


Pure-bred American Shorthairs are sold for as little as $350 for adult cats and as much as $1300 for show-quality female kittens. These cats are readily available from breeders, which can be found in your area or on the internet.


Featured Image Credit: Lalandrew, Shutterstock