Even if a domestic cat lives in America and has short hair, he may not be an American Shorthair or domestic shorthair. The terms are often used interchangeably, but one is a purebred and the other isn't. Either type makes a good pet to share your life.
Once upon a time, the American shorthair was referred to as the domestic shorthair. Sound confusing? Well, yes, but that was then and this is now. Today, the term "domestic shorthair" refers to a shorthair cat of unknown parentage, otherwise known as your run-of-the-mill, everyday feline who boasts no pedigree. The domestic shorthair appears in every feline color that is not the purview of a specific breed, such as the Siamese. It comes in every shape and size known to catdom. However, it can't have long hair. If it does, with "unknown parentage," the cat is a domestic longhair.
A specific breed, the American Shorthair is descended from cats who came over on the Mayflower, according to the American Cat Fanciers Association. These tough cats worked for a living, keeping barns and houses rodent-free. As the pioneers went west, they brought their cats along. The first registry for American Shorthairs was established in the late 19th century.
While American Shorthairs come in all colors except the Siamese point variety, the best-known color for the breed is silver tabby. Breeders look for dramatic coloring in cats. Purebred American Shorthairs are medium to large, muscular, with a tendency to gain weight easily. If you buy an American Shorthair, keep an eye on his diet to prevent obesity.
The ideal American Shorthair is friendly and people-oriented. He makes a good family cat and is generally good with well-behaved dogs. Usually calm, he still retains his mousing ability if you have unwanted pests in the place.
If you are owned by a domestic shorthair, you can't bring to her "real" cat shows. Sure, she can compete in local events with categories like longest tail or whiskers, best personality, most toes or the ever-subjective "cutest," but she's not being judged against a breed standard. At shows for American Shorthairs, that's exactly what the judge is looking for—a cat that typifies the qualities of the breed. Only purebred, registered cats may participate in these shows. American Shorthairs competed at the first cat show ever held in the U.S., back in 1895, according to the Fanciers' Breeder referral list.
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.