The American Shorthair Cat Breed is among the most famous felines in the US, which shows that it’s a well-loved breed. 

But it isn’t that surprising.

Its grey tabby coat that features patches of black and white and distinctive M-shaped marking combined with mesmerizing golden eyes can make anyone fall head over heels for them. 

But, if you’re planning to get one for yourself, would you be able to live with them?

This time, we’ll show you around American Shorthair’s world and talk about their:

  • Physical characteristics and personality
  • Unique history that traces back to the 1500s
  • Grooming and diet tips to prolong their life

This discussion will help you figure out if American shorthair fits your preferences and lifestyle.

So, if you’re considering adding this breed to your family, join us as we dive deep into their world. 

american shorhaired cat breed

Physical Traits of American Shorthair Cat Breed

This working breed is a superhero in pest control, and it shows in their body, proving the maxim “form follows function.”

You may have seen some cats that look similar to American shorthairs, but here’s what they should look like based on the standard:


These cuties have a large, full-cheeked face which explains why it appears a bit wide but sweet. 

Their forehead forms a smooth, mildly convex continuous curve going over the top of the head towards the neck.

On top of that, their medium-length nose has the same width as its entire length. And a curve gently arises from its bridge to the forehead.


American shorthair cats are stocky, muscular, and strong. 

This build provides them the agility and endurance they need as a rodent hunter and first-rate stalker. 

Their heavily-muscled legs, well-developed shoulders, chest, and hindquarters enable them to pounce, jump and climb to cath their furred or feathered prey.

Their size range from medium to large and exhibit broad, straight and level back. 

american shorhaired cat breed


Aside from its beautiful head and nose structure, its bright, expressive eyes make them more captivating. 

Their eyes are large and wide, and the upper lid has a shape similar to a half-almond cut lengthwise, while the lower one is a fully rounded curve.

The outer corners are slightly higher than the inner ones, and overall, it appears clear and alert.


Their ears are medium-sized with slightly rounded tips and not overly open at the base. 

The distance between their ears typically measured from inner corners is twice the breadth of their eyes.


American shorthairs have medium-length and heavily muscled legs. However, if you look at them from the rear, their legs are straight and parallel, with their paws facing forward.

Their paws are firm, full, and rounded with heavy pads. Similar to other cats, this breed has five toes in front and 4 in their hind. 

On top of that, their medium-length tails are heavy at the base, tapering to abrupt, blunt end in appearance, but with normal tapering final vertebrae.


Their short coat’s texture is thick, even, and firm. The thickness could vary by region and season.

It’s dense enough to protect the cat from cold, moisture, and minor skin injuries.


This breed has a wide range of colors and patterns, including shaded, solid, smoke, particolor, bicolor, calico, cameo, tortoiseshell, and van.

The most popular color is the classic silver tabby, but mackerel and patched versions of tabby and white. 

american shorhaired cat breed

American Shorthair Cat Breed’s Personality

The expression “happy medium” is almost always an accurate description of American shorthair cats. 

They’re medium in size, build, and temperament; not too big nor too small, not too cuddly nor aloof, neither couch potato nor hyperactive. 

These cats would make a good companion for those who want a feline that loves being on a lap but not on the face. 

American shorthair cats are known for their adaptable temperament and quietness.

They’re sweet and affectionate that you wouldn’t expect they’re developed initially to kill rats and mice.

They love being with their family and are friendly, but they are not overly demanding of attention.

Since they belong to the working breed, they enjoy physically and mentally stimulating activities like playing with puzzles and interactive toys.

This breed may be calm, but they’re not fond of being carried away because they value freedom.

History of American Shorthair Cat Breed

It is still unknown when American shorthairs set foot in America.

They probably made their way into the New World through ships that carried settlers to the Jamestown colony in Virginia or Spanish explorers to Florida, if not Vikings, to Newfoundland.

But what’s sure is this breed arrived with the passengers and crew of Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. 

They were prized at rat-laden shipping vessels for their ability to hunt rats and mice. And thanks to that ability, their European descendants snagged a trip into the New World.

Since farmers, shopkeepers, and household owners needed a cat to protect their stored food from rodents, they welcomed and valued this breed.

The first American shorthair registered in the US was an orange male tabby named Belle, but he was imported from England in the 1900s.

And in 1904, the first American-born American Shorthair called Buster Brown was recognized and registered under the breed name Shorthair.

The Cat Fanciers Association(CFA) recognized this breed in 1906.

Sadly, fanciers took more interest in imported breeds like Persian and Angora and crossed them with American shorthairs to improve them and introduce new colors. 

As a result, the American native’s pure bloodlines became diluted. 

It was a long fight for ASH and pedigreed breeders who wanted to preserve their natural beauty before winning against hybridization. 

But in September 1965, breeders agreed to change the breed’s name into “American Shorthair,” and with this brand-new name came a new image. 

They rejected randomly-bred shorthairs, and in the same year, CFA acknowledged a silver tabby male named Shawnee Trademark as the Best Cat. 

And finally, the breed also received the hype and respect they deserved. 

Today, they’re the sixth most popular breed, according to CFA.

american shorthaired cat breed

The Lifespan of American Shorthair Cat Breed

American Shorthairs don’t have nine lives, but they indeed have long one. 

Their lifespan ranges from 15 to 20 long years, which is why it’s among the longest-living cat breeds

It means that you can spend a long time with your feline companion. They live longer than most dogs, so it’s one of the advantages of cats over dogs

However, there’s a common cat condition that may reduce its lifespan.

american shorthaired cat breed

Common Health Problems of American Shorthair Cat Breed

American Shorthair cats are typically healthy, which reflects on their long lifespan. But they are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) 

It is a disorder in which the muscle walls of a cat’s heart enlarge, thus reducing the heart’s effectiveness. 

The cause of this heart condition remains unknown, and it appears in any cat. 

However, genetics possibly play a role since it is more prevalent in certain breeds like Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and British Shorthair. 

Clinical Signs

Rapid and open-mouthed breathing and lethargy are signs that your cat is suffering from this condition. 

When fluid builds up in or around the lungs, these symptoms appear.

The production of blood clots in the heart is a significant and potentially life-threatening side effect of HCM. 

These clots could spread through the bloodstream and block blood flow in other parts of the body (thromboembolism).


Vets can diagnose this condition using echocardiography, a device that utilizes sound waves to create an image of the cat’s heart.

Your vet may also recommend additional testing like chest radiography and electrocardiography if deemed necessary.

But it will depend on the echocardiographic findings and physical examination.


There’s no known cure for HCM yet, but a specialized care plan can help relieve the signs of this condition.

The treatment aims to control the heart rate, relieve lung congestion (congestive heart failure), and prevent blood clots.

Oral medications and injections can also help manage the condition. 

Caring and Grooming Tips for American Shorthair Cat Breed

This breed type has minimal grooming requirements. As a result, they are easy to care for, and grooming them doesn’t take so much time. 

Here are our caring tips for every American Shorthair out there. 

Clean the Eyes, Nails, and Ears 

Like other cats, their nails need trimming every couple of weeks.

If you spot some discharge in their eyes, it will help if you’d wipe it with a soft, damp cloth to wipe its corner. 

However, bear in mind that you have to use a different section of the towel for each eye to avoid the possibility of transmitting infection.

You’ll need to check their ears at least once a week too. 

And if there’s dirt on it, you can wipe it with a soft cloth dampened with a 50-50 mixture of warm water and cider vinegar.

Brush Regularly

Cats are pretty good at grooming themselves, but daily brushing is still crucial to prevent periodontal disease. 

It can keep their teeth free from plaque build-up and their gums healthy. 

Additionally, annual dental cleaning and check-up are essential to ensure their dental health is in top shape. 

Groom the Coat 

American Shorthair’s coats are short, so they’re easy to maintain. 

Combing and brushing it a few times a week can already help remove dead hair and distribute skin oils around its body.

Their coat thickness and the amount they shed vary depending on the climate and time of the year.

Keep the Litterbox Clean

You have to clean their litterbox at most twice a day if possible because they’re so particular about bathroom hygiene. 

A filthy box may cause them to utilize other areas of the house instead.

Visit Your Veterinarian

One of the best favor you can do for your cat’s health is to schedule an annual check-up. 

Regular examinations can help your vet diagnose health issues early on when treatment is less complicated, and the outcome may be better. 

They also ensure that your cat is in shape and vaccinations are up to date.

Get a Cat Insurance

Cats can get sick or injured when they fall off a high countertop, ingest something they shouldn’t, such as a piece of string, or nibble on a hazardous plant or flower. 

They can also develop ailments prevalent in cats, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes, which are costly to cure.

So, cat insurance is crucial to ease your pocket during accidents, illnesses, and even wellness care.

Diet and Nutrition Tips for American Shorthair Cat Breed

American Shorthairs are robust cats who require careful nutritional management to avoid becoming overweight, prevalent in this breed. 

They are predisposed to a long lifespan and can live up to 20 years, but it still depends on the quality of their diet and the love and attention they receive.

They need a high-quality diet to provide fuel for their body and support their active lifestyle without gaining too much weight.

Annual vaccinations and regular veterinary check-ups are essential to ensure they’re healthy and protected from various infectious diseases.

So, it would help if you’d consult your veterinarian about vaccinations and proper feeding guidelines for American Shorthairs.

american shorthaired cat breed

Where You Can Find an American Shorthair Cat Breed

Since American shorthairs are popular, it shouldn’t be a struggle to find them. 

There are two ways to get an American shorthair for yourself. 

1. Purchase one from reputable breeders

One of the fastest ways to get an ASH is to find a reputable local breeder in your area. 

If you have no leads about their whereabouts, you may ask your vet for reputable breeder recommendations or visit these sites:

Since many disreputable breeders are looking to make fast money, you need to be aware of their modus to avoid them.

It includes the following:

  • cats being the always available
  • presence of multiple litters in the premises
  • online payment option using a credit card.
  • promises that their cats are 100% healthy

One way to determine reputable breeders is through having their written guarantee about the cat’s health and test results of the examination conducted on the cat.

2. Adopt from a rescue organization

The other option where you can get this breed is through adoption. 

You may rarely see a pedigreed American shorthair in the shelter, but you can find one on websites like:

Cost of American Shorthair Cat Breed

American shorthair cats with the typical origin, middle-sized appearance, and less popular breeders cost between $500 and $800.

On the other hand, kittens from popular and reputable breeders have higher costs ranging from $1000 to $1500 or more. 

Since this breed is not as prone to disease as others, you won’t have to worry about veterinary costs that much in the future. 

But still, maintenance cost takes a large part of the total cat ownership cost than the purchase price because you need to feed your pet and provide all his veterinary needs for more than 15 years.

So, sitting down and calculating the cost is essential to ensure you’re ready to take the responsibility of adding a new member to your household.

Name Ideas for American Shorthair Cat Breed

It can be challenging to find the best name for your American shorthair, but it can also be an opportunity to be creative and make a meaningful one.

So, we curated a collection of name ideas for male, female kittens that you might love. 

Male Names for American Shorthair Cat Breed

Ajax: This name sounds rare, and it means “white knight.”

Donovan: This name means dark, so it’d suit dark-colored cats.

Dustin: If you have a feisty American shorthair, this name which means fighter, will fit your pet.

Max or Maximillian: These words are both Latin, and it means the biggest or greatest.

Scooter: It’s an English feline name that means crazy cool cat.

Female Names for American Shorthair 

Alexa: It carries a beautiful meaning which is “defending men.”

Astra: This Hindi word means a legendary supernatural weapon.

Ayla: It’s a Hebrew word that means oak tree.

Cleo: This name was derived from the name of the infamous Queen Cleopatra.

Demi: This name means small, so it’s well-suited for cute kittens.

Unique American Shorthair Kitten Names

Amber: This charismatic name is ideal for American shorthair with orange and gold color.

Butterscotch: It’s a sweet name perfect for cats with an affectionate personality and warm gold fur.

Ginger: If a cat has a reddish marking on its coat, this will make a good name for her.

Hunter: Although it’s like an occupation of an American shorthair, it would also make a great name for them. 

Sunset: Kittens that are as mesmerizing as sunset deserve this name.

Adorable Names for American Shorthair

Anchovy: It’s a glittering silver that suits American shorthairs.

Aslan: This reminds us of the iconic main character in “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Ashton/Ashley: It depicts gray ash colors that are common in American shorthairs. 

Axel: This cool name suits a cat who loves peace and being alone. 

Earl Grey: It’s a regal name perfect for tea lovers.

Maverick: This name depicts independence and means someone who plays by their own rules.

Misty: The vibe of this name seems perfect for lighter grey cats. 

Pearl: This classic name is ideal for a kitten with lighter-colored gray fur.

Topaz: This would fit an American Shorthair with smokey-gray topaz color.

Twilight: It depicts the gray color of the sky at dusk and would fit kittens with the same color.

american shorthaired cat breed

Fun Facts About American Shorthair Cat Breed

Here are some additional facts about this breed you probably didn’t know about. 

This breed became a Presidential cat.

The 43rd President of the USA, George Bush, and his family had an American shorthair cat named “India.” 

Its name was derived from “El Indio,” a former Texas Rangers baseball player whose real name is Ruben Sierra. 

At the end of President Bush’s term, India passed away in January 2009 at 18 after spending eight years in the White House.

There are over 80 coat colors and patterns of American shorthair

Aside from the colors we mentioned earlier in this article, there are so much more pattern combinations and shades that can be seen in this breed. 

The combination of White, Black, Blue, Tortoiseshell, Chinchilla and other colors made it possible to have over 80 different colors and patterns. 

Our Final Thoughts About American Shorthair Cat Breed

Overall, American shorthair cats are a lovable feline companion that would suit people of all walks of life, especially those with busy schedules.

They’re quiet, and they don’t demand much attention from their owners, but they still enjoy spending some time with them. 

More importantly, they’re less expensive than other cats like Siamese and Burmese, and they’re less prone to various hereditary diseases.

So, if you’re looking for adaptable and good-natured cats, they’ll make a good choice. 


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Catherine is a writer and editor living in Memphis, TN. After working for a state supreme court justice, she retired to write and work with her dogs, six papillons and a rescue. She has been a foster parent for abused children, using her love of dogs to teach them the benefits and responsibilities of loving something dependent on them.