The Breed History
The American Shorthair derives from stock brought over from Europe with the pioneers. The British Shorthair is likely one of the main progenitors; the first registered cat (1904) was sired by a British Shorthair. Bred for rodent control, these hardy cats made do with a harsh outdoor lifestyle living in streets and barns. Common in North America, the registry allowed housecats without pedigree into the breed for many years but now the registry books are closed. The breed name changed from Domestic Shorthair to American Shorthair in 1966. The CFA accepted this breed first in 1906 and it has remained popular for many years (a top 10). The FIFР№ does not recognize the American Shorthair.
Weight: females 8-12 lb (3.5-5.5 kg), males 11-15 lb (5-7 kg)
Coat: The dense coat is standoff and coat density increases during the cold weather. Accepted colors and patterns number about 80, with silver tabby being the most commonly seen. TICA and CFA standards differ in the types of tabby accepted. Hair texture is crisp.
Eyes: Most eye colors accepted. The eyes are a modified round shape.
Points of Conformation: Though not the largest of the cat breeds, the American Shorthair is particularly noted for sturdy bone and muscling. Overall, their conformation is moderate in every way (mesomorphic). The face is broad with prominent cheeks. The head is slightly longer when compared to the British Shorthair. Ears are medium sized and moderately wide set, with a rounded tip. The tail is medium in length and thick, tapering to a blunt tip. Paws are round. The nose is medium in length and in profile, is slightly concave.
Grooming: Moderate grooming needs are met by a light brushing about two times a week. A bit more care is needed while shedding.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Gentle, affectionate, quiet, playful and adaptable. An easy-going temperament is a breed characteristic. Good with children and dogs generally. They are robust and adaptable to both indoor and outdoor lifestyles. Not demanding of attention.
Normal Breed Variations
In one study, 100% of American Shorthair cats tested blood type A. Watch calorie intake to prevent obesity. Good mothering ability. Early sexual maturity. Good longevity.
None reported in the literature
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is the most common cardiac condition in cats (10% prevalence), and is seen in some lines of American Shorthairs. It was reported that it was likely inherited in this breed but the mode of inheritance was unknown. An autosomal dominant mode of inheritance was considered most likely in a family of American Shorthair cats. The condition was described as familial systolic anterior motion of the mitral valve and/or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Onset of HCM is usually in middle age, and is more common in males, but this breed tends to have a milder form of the condition than some other breeds of cats such as the Ragdoll or Maine Coon. It is thought to be due to a mutation affecting the myosin protein in cardiac muscle. No specific screening recommendations have been made to date for this breed.
Craniofacial Deformity: Some lines of the breed carry the gene for this condition (best known in the Burmese cat: see that chapter for details) though frequency is dropping due to careful breeding management. These cat families tend to have a more extreme facial feature set, as with the Contemporary Burmese. This is an autosomal recessive disorder.
Nasal dermoids are sometimes present in some cats; these are also seen in Burmese cats carrying this gene. Eyelid colobomas and cleft lips have also been seen in the ASH. A shallow longitudinal furrow of tissue, or color change running along the nose has been found in almost 90% of American Shorthair carrier cats, and may be a phenotypic marker of a carrier, though sensitivity and specificity of this finding is not 100% so pedigree analysis should also be used.
None reported in the literature
Rare and Isolated Reports
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): PKD is most common in Persian breeds, and those breeds having crossed out to Persians in their breeding programs. In screening programs carried out at the University of California, Davis in 2002, American Shorthair cat were found positive in two small test groups: In clinic I: 6 of 40 American Shorthair cats were positive, and in the second clinic, 2 of 8 American Shorthair cats tested positive by ultrasound screening of healthy cats from catteries. A genetic test is available.
Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency: One case report describes an 18 month old American Shorthair cat presented with stunted growth and postprandial depression. Elevated bile acids and ammonia were noted. Urea cycle enzyme deficiency is of sex linked dominant inheritance in humans, but of unknown mechanism in cats. Diagnosis is by urinary metabolite identification; a portosystemic shunt was ruled out.
Hereditary Deafness: Is associated with the dominant gene for white cat (W); may be found in white cats of this breed.
Though there are no published recommendations for screening this breed for HCM using echocardiography, one may consider screening breeding stock until further information is available. Direct genetic test for PKD is available from the UC-Davis VGL.
- Breed name synonyms: Domestic Shorthair (historical name in use until 1960s), ASH, DASH
- Registries: ACFA, TICA, CFA, CFF, CCA, WCF
- Breed resources: National American Shorthair Club (CFA): 781 Progress Street
Macon, GA 31201
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