American Shorthair

The American Shorthair is the closest thing to a working cat. These cats have incredible hunting instincts, which is why they were originally kept. According to some registries, this breed is among the most popular domestic breeds in the US. They used to hunt mice and rats, but they are more likely to hunt unsuspecting insects these days. Here’s what all cat lovers need to know about the American Shorthair.

American Shorthair


12 - 15 in

American Shorthair


6 - 15 lb

American Shorthair



American Shorthair

Life Expectancy:

15 - 20 years

Breed History

The detailed history and origin of the American Shorthair is still a mystery. Different theories claim these cats arrived with the earliest settlers. They were prised as ship cats because they kept the ship’s cargo safe from mice and rats. Some of these cats were most likely on board the Mayflower when it arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. It is widely believed that modern-day American Shorthairs are descendants of those cats. Some even say these cats descended from Viking cats. Vikings brought their cats with them to Greenland to keep their homes vermin-free. One publication from 1634 even praised shorthaired American cats for saving crops from squirrels. These cats made fantastic working cats on early farms, shops, and homes.

Cat Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Amount of Shedding
Social Needs
Affection Level
Kid Friendly
Pet Friendly
General Health

The American Shorthair’s characteristics are fairly common among this species. Since these cats were considered “working cats,” they had to develop a build that would allow them to perform different tasks. They are stocky, muscular bodies, round faces, and short ears. Here are the characteristics all cat lovers should know how to spot;


The American Shorthair’s coat will be pretty hard to miss. In fact, it is something most cat lovers notice right away. These cats have short, thick, hard coats. This type of coat helped them perform their hunting duties in colder climates and in the open.

american-shorthair face

Coat color

A breed’s coat color is somewhat important. However, cat breeds are not as restricted as dog breeds. The American Shorthair comes in more than 80 coat colors and patterns. However, cat breeders believe chocolate, sable, lavender, lilac, and Siamese-type point pattern are proof of crossbreeding, so those cats are not allowed in cat shows.


Another this that is pretty constant in a breed is its size. American Shorthairs have a significant difference between males and females. Average American Shorthair male can weigh 11 - 15 lbs, and average female cats weigh 6 - 12 lbs. The average length of the American Shorthair is 12 - 15 inches, not including the tail.


If you have been reading about the American Shorthair carefully thus far, you might wonder what kind of temperament this cat has. Naturally, you might assume that a “working” cat might be slightly wild. However, American Shorthairs are also fantastic family pets. These cats have many wonderful traits, which earned them a spot on the top 10 most popular cat breeds in the US. These cats are adaptable, calm, moderately active, moderately playful, and fairly intelligent. They are often described as “middle of the road” cats. They are calm but not comatose; smart, but not brilliant. Nevertheless, they are wonderful family companions who will form strong bonds with those who care for them.

american-shorthair-cat in the sun


No matter which cat breed you get, chances are the cat will be prone to specific health issues. That doesn’t mean the cat will necessarily develop them; it just means you and your vet should keep an eye on early signs and react immediately if you notice them. Think of it like this - you know what to look for. In the case of the American Shorthair, those potential health issues are;

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - This is a heart condition sometimes seen in this breed. The genetic component has not yet been confirmed.
  • Flat face issues - The American Shorthair has a flat face, which means respiratory and eye problems.
  • Mouth and gum disease - These cats seem prone to issues with their mouth, teeth, and gums. Oral hygiene is crucial from an early age for these cats.

World Cat Finder Team

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Updated at09.01.2022.