American Shorthair Breed Profile

Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by Julia Wilson

At a glance

  • Origins: Europe, North America
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Eyes: Hazel, green, gold, blue
  • Energy: Medium
  • Temperament: Independent, friendly, easygoing and playful
  • Weight: Males 5 – 6 kg (11 – 13.2 lbs), females 4 – 5 kg (8.8 – 11 lbs)
  • Colours: Every colour is accepted
  • Grooming: Requires weekly grooming


The American Shorthair is a breed descended from European cats, brought to North America by early settlers to keep rodents and vermin away from food stores. This breed is popular in the United States, but are rare elsewhere.


The American Shorthair is a compact, muscular and heavy-bodied cat that is slightly longer than it is tall. The chest is broad and deep, and the shoulders are well-developed. Legs are of average length with heavy bones and large round paws.

American Shorthairs have a round head that is slightly longer than it is wide, the cheeks are full, the nose has a slight break, and the muzzle is square. The ears are medium-sized and spaced well apart. Eyes are wide-set with a clear expression.

The coat is short, thick and glossy. It may feel somewhat harsh depending on the time of year.


The American Shorthair is a friendly and easy-going cat. They are quite playful and remain that way until a relatively advanced age.

American Shorthairs are an independent breed they like to be around you, but not on you or in your face constantly. A perfect companion for the family who enjoys the company of a cat who likes to be around, but not constantly needing attention. Females are more active than their male counterparts.

This is a breed that gets along well with children and household pets.


American Shorthairs require weekly grooming to get rid of loose hairs.

Clean the teeth daily with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste, or feed raw chicken necks/chunks of beef two to three times a week.

Annual veterinary visits are a must, increasing to twice a year from seven years of age so that any health problems can be picked up quickly.


The American Shorthair is an overall healthy breed, but there can be a higher incidence of the following diseases:

Obesity can become an issue in some American Shorthairs who may be less active than other breeds. This can have a serious impact on the health and welfare of the cat and is therefore important to prevent by feeding a complete and balanced diet and encouraging exercise with daily play sessions and an assortment of interactive toys.


12-15 years.

Frequently asked questions

Are American Shorthairs aggressive?

No, the American Shorthair isn’t an aggressive breed, in fact, they are known for their calm and laid-back nature.

What is the difference between an American Shorthair and a British Shorthair? 

The British Shorthair is a cobby cat with a large, muscular body and a round head, while the American Shorthair is a smaller and overall finer breed.

Both breeds occur in a variety of coat colours and patterns, the traditional colour associated with the British Shorthair is blue (grey), and the American Shorthair is associated with the silver classic tabby.

Do American Shorthairs shed a lot? 

The American Shorthair sheds at the same rate as any other cat breed. Most will have a large shed in spring as temperatures warm up but will continue to shed a small amount year-round.

Are American Shorthairs friendly?

Yes, the American Shorthair is an extremely friendly breed. As always, a cat’s personality is determined by several factors including the temperament of the mother and positive experiences with people during the crucial early weeks of development.

Are American Shorthairs hypoallergenic?

There is no evidence to suggest the American Shorthair is hypoallergenic.

What colours are American Shorthair cats? 

The coat comes in 80 colours, colour combinations, and patterns. Colours such as chocolate, lilac and points are not permitted.

For simplicity, the colours are grouped into categories.

  • Solid: White, black, blue, red, cream
  • Shaded and silver: Chinchilla silver, shaded silver, shell cameo, shaded cameo, blue chinchilla silver, blue shaded silver, cream shell cameo, cream shaded cameo
  • Tabby: Blue silver tabby, blue patched, silver patched, silver, red, brown, blue, cream, cameo (Classic, mackerel and patched tabby patterns)
  • Smoke: Black, blue, cameo, tortoiseshell, blue cream
  • Smoke and white (including van): Black smoke and white, blue smoke and white, tortoiseshell smoke and white, shell cameo and white, shaded cameo and white, smoke cameo and white
  • Tabby and white: Silver tabby and white, silver patched tabby and white, cameo tabby and white, brown tabby and white, brown patched tabby and white, blue tabby and white, blue patched tabby and white, red tabby and white, cream-tabby and white, van blue-cream and white
  • Parti-colour: Tortie, chinchilla shaded tortie, shaded tortie, dilute chinchilla shaded tortie, dilute shaded tortie, blue-cream
  • Bi-colour: Van bi-colour, calico, dilute calico, van calico

How long do American Shorthairs live?

The average lifespan of an American Shorthair is 12-14 years.

When are American Shorthairs full grown?

The American Shorthair reaches its adult size by 12 months.


The American Shorthair (ASH) is descended from European shorthaired cats who arrived in North America via early voyagers and explorers. Records suggest that cats were brought to the United States on the Mayflower in 1620.  Cats were popular on ships to keep vermin down and protect cargo from damage.  Once in America, these cats remaining close to their humans, acting as efficient pest controllers on farms and could be found wherever settlements occurred. Unlike today’s pampered felines, these cats would have remained predominately outside, adapting to the often harsh climate by developing a thick, plush coat.

By the 1800s, these cats were known as “Shorthairs” and later “Domestic Shorthairs“. The name was changed to American Shorthair in 1966 to better reflect the American origins of the breed.

In the early 1900s, American Shorthairs (then known as Domestic Shorthairs) began appearing at cat shows. Breeders began to selectively breed these cats, choosing the finest examples of the breed they could. Champion Belle, an orange tabby from Bradford, UK arrived in the United States and was to become the first Domestic Shorthair to be registered. In 1904, Buster Brown, a male smoke was the first American born cat to become registered. Both Champion Belle of Bradford and Buster Brown were owned by Jane Cathcart.

All major cat clubs recognise the American Shorthair, including the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA).

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