Trupanion cat breed guide - American Shorthair catTrupanion cat breed guide - American Shorthair catTrupanion cat breed guide - American Shorthair cat

American Shorthair

Dog Breed Guide | Cat Breed Guide

American Shorthair

American Shorthair Breed Highlights

Grey-colored American Shorthair Cat sitting inside on carpet
  • The ancestors of the American Shorthair accompanied the pilgrims on the Mayflower’s voyage across the Atlantic.

  • The forebearers of the American Shorthair were credited with saving a colony’s crops from squirrels and chipmunks in 1634.

  • Shorthairs have been around for quite a while, participating in the first cat show in 1895.

  • An American Shorthair named Shawnee Trademark was named Best Cat of the Year by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1965, the same year the breed was officially renamed the “American Shorthair” to distinguish it from the more broadly comprised “Domestic Shorthair” classification.

Unique Physical Features

Trupanion cat breed guide - American Shorthair illustration

  • Round face with a shortened muzzle

  • Large, round, and expressive eyes

  • Short, pointed ears

Color Patterns of the American Shorthair

Trupanion cat breed guide - American Shorthair illustration

There are 80 varieties of coat patterns recognized in American Shorthairs, but the most commonly seen are solid colors, tabby, tortoiseshell, and calico.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

Cat breed energy level - high (ninja warrior)

The American Shorthair is a mellow, yet sociable breed. They were bred from working cats whose job included rodent control in agricultural settings and on ships, so they have strong hunting instincts. While American Shorthairs enjoy their independence, they also get along well with humans. You often find them camped on the lap of their favorite people. They’re moderately affectionate and not overly needy for attention. As an easy-going breed, they get along well with children, seniors, and other pets, especially when introduced to them as kittens.

Average Lifespan

13 to 17 years

Average Size

Medium-sized cat:

  • 8 - 15 pounds
  • 8 - 10 inches tall

Similar Breeds

  • American wirehair

  • British shorthair

History of the American Shorthair

Grey-colored American Shorthair cat lying on hardwood floor looking at the camera

The shorthair breeds can be traced back to the 10th century in the Roman Empire. As they spread across Europe, they became known as British Shorthairs in the British Isles and were excellent rodent hunters. American Shorthairs are descendants of these working cats that crossed the Atlantic keeping rodents at bay on the ships and went on to accompany settlers across the United States. Bred to be a bit smaller than their British cousins, they were effective rodent control in both homes and barns and were playful and sociable without being needy. They were one of the first five registered cat breeds recognized in 1906 under the name Domestic Shorthair. That name was changed in 1965 to American Shorthair to distinguish the breed from other non-pedigreed short-haired cats common throughout the States.

Plays Well with Others?

The American Shorthair is friendly, playful, and accepting of other pets and people, including seniors and children. This breed is laid-back and mellow, but enjoys play due to its “working cat” origins.

Graphic - multi-color feather toy for cats

Exercise Requirements

American Shorthairs are a playful breed that requires moderate exercise to stay happy and healthy. American shorthair kittens are fun-loving and they continue to be playful well into their older years. Take advantage of their desire to chase by playing with toys — you can even teach them how to fetch!

Mental Enrichment Needs

The modern-day American Shorthair descended from working cats and can be both independent and affectionate with their guardians, although not overly-so in either case. Keeping kittens entertained and keeping their brain healthy as they age requires enrichment that encourages engagement. Hunting activities (i.e., providing prey-like toys) allows these kittens to learn and adult cats to express predatory instincts and skills, such as figuring out where “prey” items are and how to capture them; wand toys with prey-like lures and puzzle feeders are perfect.

Common Behavioral Issues

Due to its relatively large gene-pool, there are few genetic defects and no genetically-predisposed behavioral issues that are common in this breed.

Fun Activities the American Shorthair Enjoys

Trupanion cat breed guide - American Shorthair illustration

  • These cats and kittens enjoy hunting, so playtime that features prey-like toys are favored. Wand toys with mice, bird, bug, and snake-like lures can be especially enticing.

  • Give these cats objects from which to view their environment (like perches, tunnels, and caves) and ambush “prey” (toys) as a fun way to fulfill their desire to hunt.

  • Provide American Shorthairs with plenty of windows through which to view birds and squirrels, as this breed certainly appreciates this activity.


Never leave your cat alone near an open window that doesn't have a secure screen. If it's on the first floor, your cat can get out of the house and get injured, lost or any of the other possible problems that outdoor cats face on a daily basis. If the window is on the second floor or above your cat is at risk of suffering from severe injuries of "high-rise syndrome," and you don't even need to live in a true high-rise building. The injuries of "high-rise syndrome" tend to be worst in falls from between the 2nd and 7th floors!

  • These cats are fairly intelligent, so foraging toys (i.e., food puzzles) that must be manipulated in order to provide a food reward would also be fun for American Shorthair cats.

Coat Type

Short and thick

Shedding Level

shedding level - 3 of 5 piles of fur

3 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Low Maintenance

The American Shorthair is self-sufficient in keeping itself groomed and their short coat means less owner maintenance. Weekly brushing combined with twice-monthly nail trims and regular teeth brushing keep this cat looking and feeling its best. Introduce your kitten to these experiences at a young age, keeping the experience calm and positive.

Famous Owners of the American Shorthair

  • Russell Brand (Singer)

  • Lea Michele (Actress)

  • Mackelmore (Rapper)

  • Morgan Freeman (Actor)

  • Axl Rose (Singer)

  • Drew Barrymore (Actress)

  • Debby Ryan (Actress)

American Shorthair in Books, Music and TV

  • Cat in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s

  • Keanu in the movie Keanu

  • Salem from the TV shows Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

  • Toonces the Driving Cat on Saturday Night Live

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for Cats

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for cats. Every cat is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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Here's what our
cat-loving members say about Trupanion

Trupanion member Rexford


Gwynn Oak, MD

Condition: Urinary obstruction

The Trupanion policy paid: $19,031.43

"When my cat, Rexford, became ill, it was a great relief knowing I had Trupanion. It allowed me to focus on Rex and get him the care and treatment he needed without worry. Rexford required multiple surgeries and extended hospitalizations; to know that we had the support of this wonderful company was such a comfort. I will never have a pet not covered by Trupanion."

- Juliana H.

Trupanion member Gator


Calgary, Alberta

Conditions: Ear infections, diarrhea, enteritis, allergic reaction to medication

The Trupanion policy paid: $4,672.13

"Gator struggled with a weak immune system, ear infections and chronic diarrhea. After months of medical intervention, she was healthy enough for her spay. At the beginning of the procedure she had an allergic reaction to the medication and her airway swelled. She had to receive emergency drugs and luckily she recovered! We cannot thank Trupanion enough for being with us. I will always have Trupanion for my cats."

- Heather M.

Trupanion member Mason


Peyton, CO

Conditions: Giardia, Pancreatitis, infection, lymphoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $17,057.92

"Mason got what seemed to be a UTI but ended up being an intestinal disease. He has also been treated for giardia, trichomonas, irritable bowel disease, pancreatitis and a UTI. Throughout this entire ordeal, Trupanion stood by us all the way. Trupanion continues to pay for Mason’s care and when I call, I get such personal service! I even got a handwritten card from the staff, expressing their thoughts for Mason!"

- Carrie B.

Here's what our cat-loving members say about Trupanion

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The information in the Trupanion Breed Guide is robust and always expanding. You can learn more about this breed by exploring this list of all the resources used in its creation:
The Original CatFancy Cat Bible, by Sandy Robins. i-t Publishing, LLC, Irvine, CA. 2014, 544 pp.
Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds, 2nd Edition, by J. Anne Helgren. Barron's Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, NY. 2013, 384 pp.
The Complete Cat Breed Book, Kim Dennis-Bryan, editor. Korling Kindersley, New York, NY. 2013, 256 pp.
Cool Cats: the 100 Cat Breeds of the World, by Desmond Morris. Ebury Press, London. 1999, 256 pp.
Beyond Squeaky Toys, by Nicole Nicassio-Hiskey & Cinthia Alia Mitchell. Smart Pets Press, LLC, Lafayette, OR. 2013, 160 pp.
Brain Games for Cats, by Claire Arrowsmith. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY. 2016, 96 pp.
Getting Started: Clicker Training for Cats, by Karen Pryor. Karen Prior Clickertraining, Waltham, MA. 2001, 81 pp.