Don't confuse the American shorthair cat with the domestic shorthair. The latter is a generic term for short-coated cats, while the former connotes a specific breed. If you're looking for a "just right" type of cat, without extreme behavioral traits, he can fill the bill. Choose from 80 potential colors.
According to legend, the American shorthair's ancestors came to these shores on no less a ship than the Mayflower. He descends from the rodent control specialists employed by ship crews to keep mice and rats out of the food stored for voyages. He can still keep your house mouse-free, but might prefer to sit on a favorite windowsill, bird-watching. He's a mellow type who helps make a house a home just with his presence. Because he's "just right," he's not too small or large, but a happy medium. However, American shorthairs are a bit late to mature, which they do at the age of 3 or 4. As the International Cat Association puts it, "The features of the breed are then at their best."
Perhaps the breed should be called the adaptable American shorthair, because that's what they are. He's a good fit for a cat lover at any stage of life, because he adapts to your living situation. Since American shorthairs can live into their late teens, he can accompany you on your journey from singledom to married life to parenthood, accepting the new people in your life along the way. By the same token, he's at home in a city apartment, in a suburban house, or out in the sticks if that's where you choose to live.
Kids and Other Pets
If you've got other cats in your house, your American shorthair should get on with them just fine, unless they aren't particularly good with other felines. He's also good with well-behaved dogs. The same goes for kids, as long as they know how to properly treat a cat. He's pretty tolerant, but if little ones get too rough he'll probably opt to get out of Dodge rather than scratch or bite.
While all cats are individuals, in general the American shorthair is a laid-back, affectionate kitty. Whether he'll spend hours in your lap purring or would rather sit nearby depends on his specific temperament, but he wants to be in your vicinity. He requires only basic cat care—this is no hothouse bloom. He's smart and accommodating. It shouldn't take him long to learn what's acceptable and what's not, such as furniture scratching. Buy him a scratching pad or post and, unlike some other cats, he should actually use it. It's easy to love your live-and-let-live cat.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.