Photo copyright Helmi Flick — American Shorthair Portrait
The American Shorthair is described as “the beautiful working cat of the United States”.
The experts say that cats of this breed should “feel like handling a sack of oats”. Make of that what you want but I take from that statement that the cat is solid and perhaps heavier than you might think. In fact, an earlier version of the breed standard used this description. Gloria Stephens in her book Legacy of the Cat amusingly states that she had no idea what it meant until it was explained to her. It means heavy and pliable. I think it’s fair to say that the description probably applies to all standard shaped domestic cats but perhaps wouldn’t apply to the very slender purebreds such as those of the Siamese family.
Another “indicative feature” (a feature which distinguishes this cat breed) is the square muzzle. Gloria explains what the muzzle of the American Shorthair should be like. You stick a box of matches on the front of their face! Incidentally, another cat breed with a very square muzzle, and indeed a very pronounced muzzle, is the ever popular Maine Coon. It adds strength to the face.
The coat is all-weather and is not silky or plush, in contrast, for example, to the coat of the British Shorthair.
Sometimes the breed is referred to as ASH, which is an acronym for American Shorthair i.e. American SH.
The breed standard calls for large, round eyes, set wide apart. The ears are medium-sized and the muzzle, as mentioned, is strong.
It’s important that the face should not be extreme in its features and therefore a “pug” type of face as seen on the Persian is unacceptable.
The most popular coat type is the classic silver tabby which has been carefully cultivated. Although the American Shorthair is shown in all divisions and all colours of the traditional category.
The origins of this cat breed in America is the beautiful moggy found in barnyards and on the street. And before that they probably originate from British Shorthairs (of the non-purebred type) brought to North America by European settlers as ships’ cats, and I guess as companions to the settlers on board their ship.
Several random read British Shorthair cats apparently arrived on the Mayflower.
At one time during this cat’s evolution in America they developed a look which had drifted away from the original natural appearance and so breeders set about selectively breeding them to the current appearance.
The name of this cat breed has changed from ‘Domestic Shorthairs’ to, in 1966, American Shorthairs to reflect this “all-American cat.”
One of the most famous American Shorthairs was a cat called Perfect Gem. She was one of the well-known Grand Champions of the breeder Whitney Abt.
They are easy to groom and are considered to be low maintenance.