American Shorthair Cat
History of the American Shorthair
In the 370 or so years that American Shorthairs have inhabited this continent, the environment, and more recently, human-controlled breeding, have shaped them into their present form. Shorthaired domestic cats arrived in America with the Europeans. Evidence indicates that several cats may have sailed over from England aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Upon arrival, these felines became working cats in the barns and fields of the early Americans. Years of natural selection turned them into a strong, hardy breed of dependable temperament.
With the import of foreign breeds, however, the original American Shorthair bloodlines became diluted. In the early 1900s a group of breeders began a selective breeding program to preserve the natural beauty, mild temperament, and hardiness of the American Shorthair. Acceptance in the show ring was a long time coming for the American Shorthair. As late as the 1960s American Shorthairs were treated like the strays of the cat fancy.
Breeders also battled confusion between their carefully bred American Shorthairs and random-bred domestic cats. While a non-pedigreed domestic cat may look like a pedigreed American Shorthair, the mix of uncertain genes means that the domestic generally will not breed true; you cannot count on type, temperament, and length of hair as you can with a purebred American Shorthair.
The first American Shorthair to be registered in this country was an orange tabby male named Belle that ironically was imported from England in the early 1900s. It wasn't until 1904 when the first American-born American Shorthair (named Buster Brown) was registered under the breed name of Shorthair.
Later, the breed was renamed Domestic Shorthair, and in 1965 the breeders voted to change the name again, this time to the American Shorthair. The same year, CFA named a silver tabby male (Shawnee Trademark) Best Cat, and the breed finally began to receive some hard-earned respect in the cat fancy. Today, American Shorthairs are playing at show rings everywhere, and earning their due share of admiration and rosettes.
American Shorthair Personality
When describing the American Shorthair, the expression 'happy medium' springs to mind. These all-American cats are medium in size, build, type, and temperament; neither too big nor small, not overly cuddly nor distant, neither couch potatoes nor hyperactive. Breeders note that the American Short-hair is the perfect breed for the person who wants a cat that enjoys being in your lap but not in your face.
American Shorthairs are known for their quiet voices and adaptable personalities; they are sociable, easily trained, and adapt well to other animals and children. They generally do not like to be picked up; like their Pilgrim companions who left England to find independence, they cherish their freedom.
Because of the American Shorthair's history as a working cat, they make great companions in terms of health, strength, and vitality. With proper care Americans enjoy long life spans, generally between 15 and 20 years.
American Shorthair Breed Traits
The American Short-hair is known as a healthy, hardy breed with few genetic defects, not surprising since the breed developed from hardy domestic stock. A relatively large gene pool helps keep the breed healthy.
The standard emphasizes that the American Short-hair should be a 'true breed of working cat' and that no part of the anatomy should be exaggerated as to foster weakness.
The most striking and best known color is the silver tabby; more than one- third of all American Shorthairs exhibit this color. With the black markings set against the brilliant silver background, the pattern is dynamic and memorable.