With his distinctive tabby coat (just one of many fine patterns!) and his easygoing personality, it’s no wonder that the American Shorthair has earned a reputation of the friendly “cat next door.” You’ve likely seen one of the handsome cats in a TV ad and thought, “I used to have a cat like that.” You’re not alone!
While this beautiful breed bears striking similarities to the short-haired tabby you fondly remember from your childhood, many dedicated breeders have worked over the years to standardize and maintain the American Shorthair’s appearance and personality.
In fact, the American Shorthair is one of the oldest breeds in the cat fancy, and many say the breed can trace his heritage back to the sturdy cats that came to America aboard passenger and cargo ships. When other breeds, such as the Persian and Siamese, began to rise in popularity with fanciers, a group of dedicated breeders worked to ensure the American Shorthair’s health, beautiful appearance and friendly personality.
If Diane Rogers had to sum up the American Shorthair’s personality in one word, it would likely be “agreeable.” The Illinois breeder describes the breed as “easygoing, laid-back and adaptable to almost any situation.”
The American Shorthair quickly finds his place in any type of home situation, Diane says. “They are happy and content with a houseful of children, playing dress up. Or they can sit quietly, enjoying the companionship of a single owner.”
No matter what his home situation — busy family with cats and dogs or calm couple with no other pets — the American Shorthair loves to interact with all members of the household. Playtime remains a priority for the breed throughout his life.
“Even though they are laid-back, they are not couch potatoes,” Diane confirms, noting that like most cats, the American Shorthair finds creative ways to expend pent-up energy. “They will whiz around the house, bouncing from couch to chair to floor and back again until they are worn out.”
Still, even though the cat shows occasional “9 o’clock crazies,” the American Shorthair’s activity level can best be described as moderate. This breed loves to hang out, and he also loves to explore his surroundings.
“If curiosity is a sign of intelligence, they are indeed intelligent,” Diane says. “They have no fear and will investigate everything and anything that comes into the house.”
That natural intelligence makes the American Shorthair an ideal breed for training and is one of the reasons why you have likely seen the breed starring in advertisements for cat food. The cat’s good looks further explain the American Shorthair’s popularity with casting directors and pet owners alike.
At first glance, you might think the American Shorthair looks like your neighbor’s mixed-breed tabby, but the breed definitely has his own distinct look. “Unlike the Domestic Shorthair, the American Shorthair has a quite substantial body structure,” Diane explains. “It is medium in size but has been described as cobby, like a loaf of bread, a brick or a 10-pound sack of potatoes.”
The cat’s solid body features broad shoulders and wide hips, supported by short, powerful legs. “The head is round with rounded ears set on the top,” Diane says, adding that the eyes are round, too.
“The short nose and strong jaw are the cat’s outstanding features.”
What most people notice about the breed, though, is his beautiful coat. “There are a great variety of colors with the American Shorthair, but by far the most popular is the silver tabby — specifically the silver classic tabby,” Diane says.
The breed’s tabby pattern comes in three different types: mackerel (stripes up and down), spotted (stripes broken into dots or spots) and classic (bulls-eye type swirls). And while the tabby pattern is the most well-known, the American Shorthair also comes in a wide range of other patterns, including solid, bi-color, shaded, smoke, chinchilla, calico and tortoiseshell — all of which come in a range of colors.
The sheer number of colors and patterns available for the American Shorthair may make your head spin a little, but the breed’s grooming requirements definitely won’t. The cat’s short-haired coat requires minimal care. “They can maintain themselves fairly well,” Diane confirms. “But because all cats shed, a daily or weekly combing will remove the dead hair and help prevent too much shedding on the furniture.”
Don’t have a comb handy? Regular petting will also help remove loose hair — and your American Shorthair will love the attention.
Top photograph: kla3950 | Getty Images