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The American Shorthair Cat

They are not on the manifesto, but the cats were undoubtedly among the passengers and crew who disembarked from the Mayflower when it arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Their disconcerting skill has earned them the appreciation of ship crews. They made their way to the New World even earlier, on ships carrying settlers to the colony of Jamestown in Virginia, Spanish explorers in Florida, and Vikings in Newfoundland. Some of the descendants of these marine cats, known prosaically as shorthairs, or domestic shorthairs, have become what we now know as the American shorthairs.

These cats were appreciated on land and at sea. Farmers, shopkeepers and homeowners all needed a good cat to protect their food supplies from mice, rats and other vermin. The shorthairs were strong and robust animals, well adapted to the harsh conditions prevailing on the untamed continent. A publication of 1634 attributes to these hunters the fact of preserving the crops of a colony of New England from squirrels and chipmunks. From their point of arrival on the coast, they went west with the settlers and prospered.

By 1895, “short hairs” had marked people sufficiently to be exposed to the first cat show in the United States. The Cat Fanciers Association recognized them as a breed in 1906. To differentiate them from the random breed cats, also known as domestic shorthairs, the breed felidae were given the name of American shorthair in 1966. Cats are recognized by all registers.

Size and Longevity
American shorthair weighs between 7 and 12 pounds and can live from 15 to 20 years.

The American shorthair retains its hunting ability, but it is more likely to become a family companion, a job in which it excels. He has a moderate temperament, he is calm, but not comatose. American shorthair is moderately active and enjoys a good recreation as much as any cat, but it does not require too much attention or activity. As it befits a working-class cat who has done well, he is smart and loves to play with puzzles and interactive toys. It has a sociable nature and is not the type to hide under the bed when visitors arrive. He is a placid cat, but he does not particularly like to be transported. Let him stand on his four legs. He may be a cat, but he will always enjoy having a place next to you on the couch or at the end of the bed.

Both purebred and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. American shorthairs are generally healthy, but be sure to ask the breeder what health problems affect their line and what tests have been done for those that are genetic in nature.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease, has been observed in the breed, but it is not yet known to be genetic.

The hair of the American shorthair is maintained easily by brushing it a few times a week to remove dead hair and to distribute the oils for the skin. The thickness of the fur and the amount of hair vary depending on the climate and the time of year.

Brush teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is preferable, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Cut off the claws every two weeks. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove splashes. Use a separate part of the cloth for each eye to avoid spreading an infection. Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, clean them with a cotton ball or a soft cloth and lightly moistened with a 50/50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs that could damage the inside of the ear.

American shorthairs like to eat! So they can easily become obese. To prevent obesity, measure their food instead of feeding them recklessly.

Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Cats are very attached to the hygiene of the bathroom and a dirty box can encourage them to use other places in the house.

It is a good idea to keep an American shorthair as an indoor cat to protect it from diseases transmitted by other cats, attacks from dogs or coyotes and other dangers to which cats are exposed when going out, like getting hit by a car. Keeping it inside also protects the birds and wildlife of this talented hunter. American shorthairs that go out on the outside also run the risk of being stolen by someone who wants to have such a beautiful cat without paying for it.

Coat colour
American shorthair has the body of a working cat: stocky, muscular and strong. Its construction gives it the agility and endurance it needs as a top-notch stalker. His very muscular legs make him able to jump and climb to get his fur or feather prey. It is a medium to large cat, slightly longer than it is large.

A big head with big cheeks gives the American shorthair a soft and open expression. It has medium-sized ears slightly rounded at the extremities and large wide eyes.

Its short and thick coat is available in a wide assortment of colors and patterns: solid, tabby, calico, tortoise shell, bicolor, particolore and more. The classic silver tabby pattern is probably the most popular of all.

Children and Other Pets
The American shorthair, both casual and playful, is an ideal choice for families with children and dogs who love cats. He can learn tricks and enjoys the attention he receives from children who treat him with courtesy and respect. He’ll get along with the dogs if they’re not a problem. He is an experienced hunter, but he can learn to leave pets or other small animals alone if presented to him at a young age. In case of doubt, separation is preferable. Always introduce pets, even other cats, slowly and in a controlled environment.