Friday, April 15, 2011
Breed of the Day: American Shorthair
The American shorthair, our native shorthair breed, is one of the most adaptable breeds for any type of household. For a single person living alone, the American shorthair is an excellent companion; for a senior citizen, it is a calm and devoted pet; for a family with children, the good natured, playful American shorthair fits right in. Apartment living suits the American shorthair just as well as well as a house. It is the ultimate starter for anyone who has never owned a cat. One of the natural breeds, the American shorthair is a medium sized cat; muscular with a firm, well balanced body. They have an easy to care for short, lustrous coat that can come in a range of colors and patterns.
Although not listed on ship's rosters, the American shorthair came with the early settlers to this country , bringing their diverse backgrounds to form our own American cat. They were "working" cats protecting the ship's stores from rodents on long journeys. These early American cats were strong, hardy cats that earned their living status here with their hunting skills, but were soon noticed for their intelligence and interesting coat colors and patterns. In early cat exhibitions in the 1900s the short-haired cats, then known as domestic shorthairs, were presented. As more shorthair breeds were imported into the country, dedicated breeders of the domestic shorthair began selective breeding to develop a cat of a specific type. Although the American shorthair is a natural breed, it is the process of selective breeding that has developed the American shorthair as we know it today. It was not until the early 1960s that the breed was re-named the American shorthair and began its rise in recognition and as a contender in the show circuit.
American shorthairs are good natured, easy-going cats popular with families, as they are very tolerant of children. They are mellow, but can still remain playful into old age. Queens tend to be more active than toms,
with the toms being more easy-going. In general they are intelligent cats and quite interested in everything around them. Many American shorthairs retain their hunting instincts with rodents or even any insects that should venture into or around the house. They love to watch birds from a comfy window sill. They enjoy the company of their people, but are not demanding and can be independent and entertain themselves. Many are lap cats, with some preferring to be near you rather than on you.
The breed standard for the American shorthair relies heavily on the term "medium"; it is not as large or heavily boned as the British shorthair. It is a very balanced, medium sized, medium boned cat, with a firm muscular feel to the body, and well proportioned in all parts. The skull is slightly longer than it is wide with an open, sweet expression. They eyes are wide set medium to large in size in proportion to the head and rounded, meaning that the upper lid is like the curvature of an almond and the lower lid is a fully rounded curve. The eyes should not be as round as the exotic shorthair. The muzzle is medium-short with a full, strong chin giving it a squarish appearance. The ears are medium in size and slightly rounded at the tip, and are set twice the width of the distance between the eyes. There are a number of different looks found in the American shorthair that are acceptable by the standard. Queens are smaller than toms with the balance of the cat being of the utmost importance.
The coat is short, hard in texture, lustrous and dense enough to give natural protection against the elements. the color of the cat appears to affect the texture to some degree with the ideal coat often being found in the brown tabbies. Color and pattern are weighed equally with the clarity of the markings in the patterns the most desirable. Tabby and tabby with a white belly, usually with the classic pattern, have been most popular in the show ring. The coat requires little extra care so unless being shown, a bath is rarely necessary; a weekly combing to remove shed hairs will suffice. When bathed for a show, care must be taken or the coat will end up too soft or fluffy. American shorthairs do not really mature until they are about three or four years of age and look their best at this point in their lives.