Colour: More than eighty different colours
American Shorthairs are a pedigree cat, originally called the 'Domestic Shorthair'. It was officially re-named the 'American Shorthair' in 1966. (Known as ASH, for short.) This was done to raise its status and to distinguish it from the common, non-pedigree, domestic house-pets.
Domestic Breed: An American pedigree cat, originally called the 'Domestic Shorthair'. It was officially re-named the 'American Shorthair' in 1966. (Known as ASH, for short.) This was done to raise its status and to distinguish it from the common, non-pedigree, domestic house-pets.
Appearance: A muscular, compact, heavy-bodied cat with a short, rounded face. American Shorthairs have slightly longer legs than their British counterparts. They also tend to have a denser, thicker coat.
History: According to tradition, the first American Shorthairs were ship's cats employed as pest-controllers on the Mayflower , arriving in America in 1620. Many more ship's cats must have followed and, before long, they were spreading out across the New World, some living wild but most continuing to act as domestic rodent-destroyers. During the great California Gold Rush these cats were so highly valued as mousers that they were selling at $50 each, a huge price to pay back in the middle of the nineteenth century.
By the end of the nineteenth century, some of the best examples of the descendants of these working cats were starting to appear at cat shows. Classified as 'Domestic Shorthairs', they included some exceptional individuals. Despite this, however, they were often relegated to a minor role, because of strong competition from the more glamorous foreign breeds that were being imported from Europe. As Ingeborg Urcia reports: 'Those who raised the new exotic breeds looked down upon the American cats. Rumours circulated that the breeders of the Domestic got their breeding stock from the animal shelter, and their cats were disdained and neglected . At some cat shows they were not even benched .....Domestic breeders found no cages available for them at shows, and that no rosettes or trophies were provided for the Domestic Shorthair class.'.
In the early years of the 20th century, the breed was enhanced by the arrival in the United States of a British pedigree shorthair Named Champion Belle of Bradford. An orange tabby imported by Jane Cathcart, it was the first Domestic Shorthair to be registered as a pedigree cat in the United States. In 1904, the first home-bred, truly American, Domestic Shorthair to be registered was a male smoke called Buster Brown, which also belonged to Miss Cathcart.
After the Second World War, Domestic Shorthairs started winning prizes at American cat shows and it was this that eventually led to them being honoured with the new title of American Shorthairs. A group of enthusiasts met in the early 1960s and decided on this new name because they felt that the word 'Domestic' was an obstacle to the success of these cats. The strategy proved a success and by the 1970s the American Shorthairs were fully established as a major force to be reckoned with at pedigree shows all over America.
Personality: Terms used to describe this breed include: Hearty, healthy, versatile, friendly, intelligent, robust, strong, good-natured and independent.
Colour forms: The Cat Fanciers Association in America lists the following colours for this breed:
CFA: White; Black; Blue; Red; Cream; Chinchilla Silver; Shaded Silver; Shell Cameo; Shaded Cameo; Black Smoke; Blue Smoke; Cameo Smoke (= Red Smoke); Tortie Smoke; Blue Chinchilla Silver; Blue Shaded Silver; Cream Shell Cameo (Cream Chinchilla); Cream Shaded Cameo (Cream Shaded); Blue-Cream Smoke; Blue Silver Tabby (= Pewter Tabby); Blue Silver Patched Tabby (Pewter Patched Tabby); Smoke and White; Black Smoke and White; Classic Tabby Pattern; Mackerel Tabby Pattern; Patched Tabby Pattern; Brown Patched Tabby; Blue Patched Tabby; Silver Patched Tabby; Silver Tabby; Red Tabby; Brown Tabby; Blue Tabby; Cream Tabby; Cameo Tabby; Tabby and White; Silver Tabby and White; Silver Patched Tabby and White; Cameo Tabby and White; Brown Tabby and White; Brown Patched Tabby and White; Blue Tabby and White; Blue Patched Tabby and White; Red Tabby and White; Cream Tabby and White; Tortie; Calico; Dilute Calico; Blue-Cream; Bi-color; Van Bi-color; Van Calico; Van Blue-Cream and White.
1981. Lauder, P. The British, European and American Shorthair Cat. Batsford, London.
1992. Urcia, I. American Shorthair Cat. Elias Holl Press, Cheney, WA.
National American Shorthair Club. Address: P.O. Box 280831, San Francisco, CA 94128-0831, USA. or: 1331 N. Wingra Drive, Madison, WI. 53715, USA.
Note: There is a Breed publication called American Connection. Address: P.O. Box 280831, San Francisco, California 94128-0831, USA.
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