American Shorthair: America’s First Cat
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American Shorthair: America’s First Cat

Est. read time: 3 min.

September 16th marks the anniversary of the Mayflower setting sail from Plymouth, England, also known as Mayflower Day. Nearly four centuries later, the U.S. is home to countless descendants of the passengers on that voyage—including feline passengers! Today we’re celebrating the American Shorthair, the descendant of the cats that came over on the Mayflower.

The history of the American Shorthair

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor
"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor"

The American Shorthair breed evolved from cats that came over with the Mayflower colonists. These cats were likely “working cats” or mousers. They kept rats and other vermin from infiltrating the ship’s food sources.

Once the Mayflower docked in what is now Cape Cod, its feline passengers departed the ship and began their proliferation along the coast. 

It is likely that the early American Shorthair cat was around for the Continental Congress assembly in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. In other words, this breed witnessed the birth of a nation!

The signature look

American Shorthair cat
© Heikki Siltala / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The American Shorthair is a well-proportioned, medium-sized, yet muscular cat that is best known for his silver coat with black classic tabby (aka “swirl”) markings. 

However, this breed can come in a variety of colors—such as white, blue, black, cream, red, silver, golden, brown—and patterns, including tabby, solid, tortoiseshell, bicolor, calico, and more. The short but thick coat does not appear to have hypoallergenic properties. 

American Shorthair personality

American Shorthair cat with a collar

The personality of an American Shorthair cat varies as with any breed, but these felines are known for being friendly, affectionate, and very adaptable. Not surprising, considering their ancestors were forced to adapt to life on a new continent!

The American Shorthair is a calm, but moderately active addition to any household. While he doesn’t demand play, he is quick to jump into activity when given the opportunity. He is a social cat but not especially needy.

A few facts about the American Shorthair

American Shorthair cat outside

The American Shorthair cat is generally quite healthy—many live for 15 to 20 years. This may be attributed to what is called “hybrid vigor,” or a combination of the best genetic material born out of domestic short-haired cats that have a lower risk for inherited diseases. As the American Shorthair is a natural breed born out of Europe’s domestic shorthairs (and possibly British Shorthairs), they retain that hybrid vigor.

Furthermore, this cat remains as skilled a hunter and as top-notch a mouser as his ancestors on the Mayflower. That said, he is a good family cat and can learn to get along with all manner of animals, including birds and other small pets.

The American Shorthair has also influenced numerous other cat breeds. These include the American Wirehair, the Bombay house panther, the Colorpoint Shorthair, the Exotic Shorthair, and the Scottish Fold.

This all-American cat breed will make a fine companion for any pet home!

Cover photo by Joey Huang on Unsplash

American Shorthair: America's first cat


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