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Norwich Bulletin - 7/25/2004

The Great American Shorthair

I have a friend who raises American Shorthairs. She specializes in silvers - silver classics, cameos, silver patched, and so on. Each cat is breathtaking to look at and has this calm, happy, playful and almost doglike personality. They are terrific little cats and I find myself becoming a huge fan.

Especially nice is that the American Shorthair is our country's own special breed, whose ancestors arrived in North America on the Mayflower, along with our early settlers. Several cats were kept on each ship as ratters and made their way on shore to become pioneer working cats. This cat's roots are in the barns and city streets of our own country.

Allowed to share the settler's hearth at night, their ability as hunters were far more important than their appearance. As time went on, however, their beauty and loving nature came to be valued as much as their vermin-killing capability. As man progressed, so did the lot of the cat and the American Shorthair established itself as the native North American breed.

They are pretty much the all American cat - a hearty, healthy breed in general, a gentle companion to adults and children alike, and good with other pets, including dogs. They are very amiable in general and those who own the breed are always amazed at their truly sensitive nature.

Roger Blue, a blue classic tabby American Shorthair I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted with, always has an introspective nature that makes you want to have a serious conversation with him about the state of the world. And you just know that he has great opinions!

Seriously, out of all the purebred cat breeds I would have to say the American Shorthair is right up there as the perfect family pet. The Cat Fancier's Association officially recognized the American Shorthair as one of its first five registered breeds in 1906.

The cat is recognized in more than eighty different colors and patterns ranging from the eye catching silver classics to blue-eyed whites and all the colors in between. One of the top ten most popular breeds of cat, the American Shorthair is truly a very special feline.

Special features of the American include large, expressive eyes that have a slight upward tilt to the outer edge. The muzzle is square and the body well muscled and powerful. This kitty still needs to look like the working cat of yesterday, and yet should be kept inside.

CFA describes the breed as a "strongly built, well-balanced, symmetrical cat with confirmation indicating power, endurance and agility." There are noticeable differences between male and female as to size. The coat is short and thick, and requires little grooming, even for the show ring. A face that can only be described as charming, this pioneer alley cat has been shaped through generations of selective breeding to become America's own pedigreed cat.

The American Shorthair has an average lifespan of fifteen to twenty years and is, in general, extremely healthy. They tend to greet you at the door and follow you room to room. While they are not normally crazy about being picked up, they are most definitely lap cats, especially at night. You can pretty much plan on your American curling up next to you in bed at night. Roger Blue likes to play fetch. He is a robust cat with a tiny meow, which is a constant source of amusement to all who know and love him.

The American is quick to purr and when life gets a little confusing, they are generally able to handle change pretty well. Eventually, an American will make its way into my family as I am intrigued by the breed and I haven't been able to find anything negative about the breed.

Remember to seek out reputable breeders if you are interested in an American. You can find out information about the breed and breeders by logging onto www.breedlist.com or emailing catnbeary@cox.net. Please do not buy kittens or puppies from a pet shop.

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