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American shorthair cat on bed looking up

Breed overview

  • Weight — 8-12 pounds (female), 11-15 pounds (male)
  • Coat characteristics — Short, thick coat that sheds lightly. Colors include white, black, cream, red, blue, and silver with over 80 combinations and seven patterns, the most common of which is the “silver tabby.”
  • Enrichment needs — Average
  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Average
  • Life span — 15-20 years
  • Temperament — Affectionate, playful, and highly adaptable
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — United States

American shorthair fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male American Shorthairs Oliver; Milo is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female American Shorthairs love Luna, then Nala.

  • They descend from cats aboard the Mayflower. American shorthairs originated in North America from shorthaired breeds that colonists brought with them from Europe in the early 1600s.
  • American shorthairs vary greatly in color. They can be one of seven different pattern variations that include solid, bicolor, tabby, and tortoiseshell with over 80 color combinations.
  • They didn’t receive the name American shorthair until 1966. The breed was first grouped with domestic shorthairs by the Cat Fanciers Association until they eventually received their own designation.
Curious American shorthair cat

American shorthair temperament and characteristics 

With loving personalities, round faces, and big eyes, cats of the American shorthair breed are as sweet as they look. This medium-sized cat is known for affection and loves to cozy up with their favorite people. That said, these cats are also able to entertain themselves and will not need constant attention. Possessing a natural prey drive due to their working cat ancestry, they will often let you know when they crave play by bringing you a toy, or whatever they consider a toy. Interactive cat toys like teaser wands and puzzles, as well as places to explore like cat trees, will satiate their moderate exercise needs and provide mental stimulation.

Although they make for great family companions, American shorthairs are incredibly adaptable and will fare well with singles, couples, or the elderly. With proper training and socialization, you can expect your American shorthair to get along well with children and cat-friendly dogs. However, owners should exercise caution around smaller animals that may trigger their natural hunting instincts.

American shorthairs are also not considered very loud, and will often rely on a soft meow when greeting a stranger or to indicate their hunger. If your cat is vocalizing excessively, they may be experiencing a health issue like anxiety, which you should consult your veterinarian about.

Common American shorthair health problems

With a lifespan of 15-20 years, American shorthairs are generally considered a hardy and healthy breed. But like all cats, they can experience certain medical conditions.

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is the most common feline heart disease and is marked by an enlargement of the heart muscle that can lead to potentially lethal blood clots. While there is no cure, a low-sodium diet and beta-blockers can aid in treatment.
  • Obesity. Like all shorthairs, the breed is prone to obesity that can shorten their life span and put them at risk for diabetes. Owners should consult their vets to determine how much they should be feeding their feline friends.
  • Polycystic kidney disease. The American shorthair may experience this familial disease in which cysts are formed in the cat’s liver or kidney. The condition can be detected in certain blood panels and non-invasive abdominal ultrasounds.
  • Hip dysplasia . American shorthair owners will want to be on the lookout for limping and excessive licking of the hip as a sign of hip dysplasia, a genetic condition in which the joint that connects a cat’s thigh bone to their hip becomes misaligned.

🚨Male neutered cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can become fatal if left untreated. Make an appointment with the veterinarian immediately if you notice that your cat is having accidents or abnormal urination.

Cost of caring for an American shorthair

Those looking for purebred American shorthair kitties from reputable breeders can expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000, whereas adopting one will usually only cost as much as $150. Before bringing home an American shorthair, familiarize yourself with different pet insurance plans and enroll early to lower out-of-pocket veterinary costs for your new furbaby. Alternatively, having a pet savings account can prepare you in the event of a medical emergency. For example, when it comes to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, diagnosis alone will likely cost around $1,500.

History of the American shorthair

The story of the American shorthair began on an English ship transporting over 100 European colonists to what is now the continental United States. Among the passengers aboard the famous Mayflower were the direct ancestors of the American shorthair breed.

Records show that the working cats were brought along on the journey for their natural ability to hunt and kill rodents, an ability that they possess to this day. This job carried over on land, where the breed was developed to catch and kill rats and mice and help manage infestations in homes across the country. Over time, their thick coats and muscular builds were implemented for living and working outdoors.

While the breed was originally classified as a domestic shorthair, they were renamed the American shorthair in 1966 to distinguish them from other shorthair breeds. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), they are the 8th most popular cat breed in the United States.

American shorthair cat resting on floor

Caring for your American shorthair

American shorthairs are considered low maintenance cats and a great fit for any household type. Owners will want to schedule routine vet visits to make sure their kitten is up to date on vaccinations and in good health. Take steps to prepare your home with food, toys, and signing up for FidoAlert so you’re protected in the event they get out.


Although the breed has short hair, these cats do need to be brushed at least twice a week to remove loose fur and keep their coats from getting matted. Unless they get dirty, owners will not need to give them a bath once every 1-2 months. When cleaning the ears, use a damp cloth and keep your eyes peeled for any signs of excess discharge or redness.

Regardless if your cat is an expert at grooming themselves, there are still some routine tasks that you should help with to prevent issues like gingivitis. Brushing your cat’s teeth, bringing them to the vet for routine dental care, and trimming your cat’s nails are all essential to a healthy cat, and a happy you.

Grumpy American shorthair cat

Diet and nutrition

Since American shorthairs are prone to obesity, owners should consult their vet when calculating how many calories and servings per day their cat should get relative to their size, life stage, and activity level. Generally speaking, an American shorthair will likely need somewhere between 280 and 360 calories per day. Make sure your cat’s food packaging has an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label to ensure it meets their nutritional needs.

Those considering a homemade diet for their American shorthair should ensure they’re avoiding foods considered toxic to cats. You will also need to ensure your cat’s water bowl or fountain is always full to avoid dehydration.

Enrichment and environment

While American shorthairs are not considered high-energy, they do love playtime – either independently or with their humans. Interactive toys such as wands, felt mice, and jingle balls will help them meet their exercise needs. They’ll often let you know if they want you to get in on the fun by bringing a toy your way.

Because of their strong ability to adapt to their surroundings (their ancestors spent two months at sea, after all), the breed is considered a good fit for large and small homes alike. They love sunbathing, so a window perch or cat tree by a window will be much appreciated by your favorite feline, so long as you’re careful to avoid them overheating. If your cat is listless or spending too much time laying around, talk to their vet about possible underlying health issues, including depression.

American shorthair cat stretching outside

Breeds similar to the American shorthair

Not quite sure that an American shorthair is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Ragdoll. Though not a short-haired cat, ragdolls have lower grooming needs than most medium-coat cat breeds. That combined with their affinity for cuddling will make them a soft addition to your lap.
  • Bombay. Between their short hair, affection and independence, it should come as no surprise that the Bombay has the American shorthair in their lineage.
  • N​​orwegian forest cat. If sweet and gentle is what you’re looking for in a cat, look no further than the cuddly Norwegian Forest Cat. Though they love their humans, they also have no problem with a little alone time.

Frequently asked questions

Are American shorthairs low maintenance?

As the name suggests, American shorthairs are a short-haired breed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t shed. Owners should plan on brushing their cat every few days at the least to remove excess fur and keep their coats smooth.

Do American shorthairs like to cuddle?

Yes! The American shorthair is considered a very affectionate cat breed that likes to cozy up against their humans. That said, they don’t need constant attention and also value alone time.

What health problems do American shorthairs have?

While they have a long lifespan and are generally considered a healthy breed, American shorthairs are prone to some medical conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart disease), obesity, and polycystic kidney disease. Scheduling routine vet visits can help you monitor your cat’s health and receive professional medical guidance and care.

Are American shorthair cats vocal?

American shorthairs are not generally a loud cat breed. If anything, they will usually use soft meows to indicate their needs, like hunger. If your cat is excessively vocalizing with their proper exercise and nutrition needs being met, seek veterinary care to rule out medical concerns.

How do American shorthairs differ from domestic shorthairs?

American shorthairs used to be categorized as domestic shorthairs, before they were renamed in 1966 inorder to be distinguished from other shorthair cats. The American shorthair has set breed standards, whereas the Domestic Shorthair can be used to characterize any mixed-breed shorthair.