|Origin||North America (formal breed development)
Europe (original landrace stock)
|Domestic cat (Felis catus)|
The American Shorthair (ASH) is a breed of domestic cat believed to be descended from European cats brought to North America by early settlers to protect valuable cargo from mice and rats. According to the Cat Fancier's Association, in 2012, it was the seventh most popular breed of cat in the United States.
When settlers sailed from Europe to North America, they carried cats on board (ships' cats) to protect the stores from mice—for instance, the cats that came over on the Mayflower with the Pilgrims to hunt rats on the ship and in the colony. Many of these cats landed in the New World, interbred, and developed special characteristics to help them cope with their new life and climate. Early in the 20th century, a selective breeding program was established to develop the best qualities of these cats.
The American Shorthair is a pedigreed cat breed, with a strict conformation standard, as set by cat fanciers of the breed and the North American cat fancier associations such as The International Cat Association (TICA) and the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). The breed is accepted by all North American cat registries. Originally known as the Domestic Shorthair, the breed was renamed in 1966 to the "American Shorthair" to better represent its "all-American" origins and to differentiate it from other shorthaired breeds. The name "American Shorthair" also reinforces the fact that the breed is a pedigreed breed distinct from the random-bred non-pedigreed domestic short-haired cats in North America, which may nevertheless resemble the ASH. Both the American Shorthair breed and the random-bred cats from which the breed is derived are sometimes called "working cats" because they were used for controlling rodent populations, e.g., on ships and farms.
Although it is not an extremely athletic cat, the American Shorthair has a large, powerfully-built body. According to the breed standard of the Cat Fanciers' Association, the American Shorthair is a true breed of working cat.
According to the CFA, American Shorthairs are low-maintenance cats that are generally healthy, easy-going, affectionate with owners and social with strangers. Males are significantly larger than females, weighing eleven to fifteen pounds when fully grown. Mature females weigh eight to twelve pounds when they achieve full growth at three to four years of age. With a quality diet and plenty of attention, love, and care, they can live 15 years or longer, requiring annual vaccinations and veterinary checkups. These cats have solidly built, powerful, and muscular bodies with well-developed shoulders, chests, and hindquarters.
The American Shorthair is recognized in more than eighty different colors and patterns ranging from the brown-patched tabby to the blue-eyed white, the shaded silvers, smokes and cameos to the calico van, and many colors in between. Some even come in deep tones of black, brown, or other blends and combinations. Generally, only cats showing evidence of crossbreeding resulting in the colors chocolate, sable, lavender, lilac, or the point-restricted pattern of the Siamese family are disqualified from being shown.
American Shorthairs are intelligent cats who are interested in their surroundings. They will watch birds, other animals and any outside activity from a window perch. These cats are calm, yet playful and some enjoy sitting in laps. They get along with children, so they make good family pets. Even though they are social cats, they are still independent. These cats continue to use their hunting skills to catch insects or pests that come into the house.
- European Shorthair (or Celtic Shorthair), a similar modern breed derived from landrace European domestic short-haired cats.
- Stephens, Gloria; Yamazaki, Tetsu (2001). Legacy of the Cat (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 49. ISBN 0-8118-2910-3.
- "Top 10 Most Popular Breeds". The Cat Fanciers' Association. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
- "Breed Profile". Cat Fanciers Association. 1995–2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- “Cat Breeds – American Shorthair.” Pet Source. N.p.. Web. 22 Apr 2014.
- "American Shorthair". The International Cat Association. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
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