Are American Shorthairs a Good Breed for First Time Owners?

American Shorthair cats have a lot of positive qualities, but is adopting one a good decision for beginner owners? Let’s find out!

Jun 6, 2024By Dallin Darger
are american shorthairs good breed for first time owners

If you’re planning on adopting a cat for the first time, choosing the right breed can be downright agonizing. How do you know which cats will give you a relatively smooth experience and which ones will turn into little troublemakers?

When it comes to the American Shorthair breed, there are some special pros and cons to consider. Below, we’ll walk through the advantages (along with some downsides!) of adopting one of these cats!

Overview of American Shorthairs

american shorthair looking out window
Photo by Veronica Chalyj on Unsplash

Before deciding whether a certain type of cat is right for your home, it’s generally helpful to know some of the breed’s background. And, in the case of the American Shorthair, it’s quite an extensive background to cover.

Owing primarily to their strong and balanced physique, American Shorthairs have a long history as rodent catchers. In fact, this tradition goes back all the way back to the arrival of the Mayflower. Upon being imported into North America as farm cats, the breed was used mainly to catch mice and rats.

Of course, as their name suggests, the breed also sports a short hairstyle. Though short, this hair is also plenty thick and warm, helping the cats adapt to cold winter temperatures. In that regard, American Shorthairs have an advantage over hairless cat breeds like the Sphinx or Ukrainian Levkoy.

Personality and Temperament of American Shorthairs

american shorthair cat tree
Photo by Petrebels

Owners are often concerned that the cat breeds they adopt might have rambunctious or irascible personalities. Fortunately, this breed couldn’t be any further from that image!

While personality can be impacted by environmental factors, most American Shorthairs are known to show a highly gentle, affectionate temperament. These cats love to purr and cuddle up with their owners and quickly form bonds with people. That said, they still have a playful streak and like to run around from time to time.

This is also a highly intelligent cat breed, much like the Scottish Fold. American Shorthairs show a high level of curiosity and like to explore their environment. But, don’t worry: They’re still a good-natured breed and don’t tend to cause mischief for the sake of it.

American Shorthairs Diet and Exercise

tree branch american shorthair
Image by Erik Gettig from Pixabay

So, what do the day-to-day nutritional and exercise requirements of an American Shorthair cat look like? Does this breed need a highly rigorous diet or a demanding exercise routine?

Not exactly! Like other cats, American Shorthairs need a very high-protein diet. Most experts recommend that somewhere around 30-40% of the cat’s diet consists of animal protein. But, fortunately enough, the source of these nutrients can be quite standard. These cats are known to do well on a simple mix of wet cat food and dry kibble, supplemented by small, occasional treats.

In terms of recommended physical activity, the guidelines are also totally manageable. While representatives of this breed can be impressively athletic, they also generally do fine with a moderate level of exercise.

Luckily, due to their high intelligence and playful disposition, this exercise can often take the form of fun activities like fetch, interactive cat toys, and puzzles.

How Do You Groom an American Shorthair?

american shorthair near tree
Photo by Chalaphan Mathong on Unsplash

One area where American Shorthairs undeniably shine compared to some other cat breeds is grooming. Due to their characteristic short coats, most of these cats require little more than a light brushing once or twice per week. This is in marked contrast to a breed like the Maine Coon cat, whose long hair requires brushing every two or three days.

With an American Shorthair, grooming is a relatively straightforward process. Using a comb or soft-bristle brush, you can give your cat a casual brushing at any point during the week. Brushing the cat’s coat will help spread healthy oils, prevent knots and matting, and clear away dead skin and fur.

American Shorthairs Common Health Conditions

american shorthair rubbing
Image by Kari Dickinson from Pixabay

So far, everything sounds like smooth sailing. But, what are the downsides to a first-time owner adopting an American Shorthair? Unfortunately, most of the negatives involve the cat’s health and wellness.

Genetically, this breed is predisposed to feline health problems like obesity, diabetes, dental disease, and parasites. The breed also frequently suffers from heart disease, hyperthyroidism, and, in older cats, renal failure.

One of the most common health problems that shows up with American Shorthairs is weight gain. This can end up being a very serious concern, as overweight and obese cats are dramatically more likely to develop other conditions. Arthritis, diabetes, fatty liver, and reduced mobility and quality of life often develop as a direct result of obesity in cats.

Luckily, preventing or reversing severe weight gain in American Shorthairs is usually simple. The main idea is to prevent overfeeding. In many cases, this can be accomplished by keeping your cat active and stimulated so they don’t take too many trips to the food bowl. You also may want to try directly reducing the cat’s food intake if overeating is a consistent, repetitive behavior.

Are American Shorthairs Good for Beginner Owners?

decorative mat american shorthair
Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

Now, let’s take a look at the verdict. Is the American Shorthair a good, compatible breed for beginner cat owners? Or, should new owners looking to adopt a cat research other breeds instead?

For the most part, adopting an American Shorthair as your first cat should have a positive outcome. The breed is renowned for its friendly and playful temperament, minimal grooming requirements, and high intelligence. All qualities that new owners will be relieved to find in their feline companion!

The main downside to watch out for is the breed’s tendency to develop certain health problems, especially obesity. However, with proper exercise and food management, the likelihood of dealing with these conditions can be substantially reduced.

Dallin Darger
By Dallin Darger

Dallin is a passionate, seasoned pet owner and enthusiast. He has, over the course of 27 years, owned and loved a litany of breeds, from Labrador retrievers and calico cats to angelfish and neon tetras. Much of his free time is spent researching and learning everything he can about unfamiliar and exciting types of wildlife.