The American Shorthair is a tremendously hearty creature with a long life-span. You can expect to enjoy the company of your American Shorthair for a good 15 years or more, with some particularly long-lived kitties making it well into their twenties. Most of these years will be healthy, too. It’s my belief that this is a result of their history.
Today’s pure-bred American Shorthairs are the descendants of sturdy barn cats, rough-and-tumble creatures who were well-adapted to rugged outdoor conditions and hard living. Their modern-day inheritors have had some of the less desirable traits bred out of them but retain their strong constitutions.
How long do American Shorthair cats live? 15-20 years is an average lifespan for an American Shorthair cat. As long as they are properly cared for, these cats can enjoy life well into their teens and occasionally into their twenties. They are healthy and free from breed-specific ailments.
You’ve arrived on this page because you’re interested in American Shorthair (ASH) cats and their lifespans. Maybe you’ve recently acquired an American Shorthair, and want to know how long your new companion will be around. Maybe you’re planning to get a new cat and want to ensure that you’re not setting yourself up for a sad parting in a few years’ time.
How long to ASH cats live? Are American Shorthairs healthy? How can You make sure that your American Shorthair lives a long and happy life? Read on, because we have all the answers that you’re looking for.
How long do American Shorthair cats live?
American Shorthairs are one of the more long-lived breeds of cat. They’re hardy, with a good gene pool. Because the line has not seen too much interbreeding over the years, these cats do not have many genetic abnormalities to worry about. Their configuration is a very natural one, and doesn’t predispose them to the kinds of issues one sees in some of the more overbred exotics.
Pure-bred pedigree cats are rather notorious for having delicate health. This is not true for all breeds, however, and it’s not the case for the American Shorthair. ASH cats don’t really show any of the breed-specific disorders that you might find in some other pedigree cats. There are certain hereditary and congenital conditions that any breed of cat can suffer, of course, and you will need to be aware of these. In later sections, we’ll be covering those conditions and how you can guard against them.
Another advantage that the American Shorthair has over some other breeds is its configuration, which overall predisposes them to better health. They have just enough brachycephaly to give them a cute, rounded face, but not enough to impair their breathing or make them prone to eye infections — unlike exotic shorthairs, who must be constantly monitored for such issues. American Shorthairs have strong bones and healthy joints, with no special tendency to arthritis. They are also relatively free from (although not immune to) heart or lung disorders or disorders of the circulatory system.
You can’t take this rugged health for granted, of course. If you really want your ASH cat to see her 20th birthday, and to fully enjoy the intervening years, you will have to take proper care of her health. In this article, we’ll look at the way in which you can select a healthy kitten and ensure a happy, healthy, long-lived cat.
Choosing a Healthy Kitten will increase the lifespan of your cat.
It’s important that your new American Shorthair has the very best start in life. If you’re not adopting a mature cat, this means carefully choosing a responsible breeder.
Your breeder should be properly licensed according to the regulations in your region, and should be signed up with the appropriate cat breeder registries. They should be charging a reasonable amount for their kittens. This will vary widely depending on where you are, but you should not expect to pay less than several hundred GBP or the local equivalent. You should not buy a kitten from a breeder charging a very low price. While this is tempting, you will be buying a cat of dubious pedigree from a backyard breeder.
Not all such breeders are outright criminals — some are simply well-meaning but uninformed — but their kittens will not be as healthy and well-cared for as kittens from a reputable breeder. At worst, you may be supporting an abusive backyard cattery. Avoid them and save up until you can afford to buy from someone who you can trust.
A good breeder will let you visit the kittens before you buy. The premises should be clean and the mother cat well-cared for. The kittens should also be in good health. Look for a lively kitten who is curious and playful, one who will engage when tempted with a toy. The kitten should be clean, with no symptoms of infection or injury. Avoid breeders who show you lethargic, sickly kittens with signs of illness or infestation by fleas or mites. Their eyes should be bright and their ears and noses free of detritus or secretions.
Cats can live longer with proper care (kittenhood).
The care you give your kitten will help set her up for a healthy life. By the time she comes to you, she should have been given a clean bill of health by her vet. She should be at least 12 weeks old (no reputable breeder will separate a kitten from the mother before them, and many don’t release kittens until the 16th week of life).
Many breeders will already have paid for your kitten’s first round of shots. If the kitten is big enough, she may already have been de-sexed. If not, you’ll need to arrange this yourself. “Entire” cats that have not been spayed or neutered can develop undesirable personality traits, such as aggression and spraying. More importantly, they are more prone to certain health problems (including certain cancers in female cats).
Feed your kitten regularly and don’t worry too much about her weight at this age. Food should be given in multiple small portions — if she overeats, she might become nauseous and vomit.
It’s important to spend lots of time with your kittens at this age. Engage them in active play and let them enjoy your company. This will help ensure an active, sociable cat in later life.
Caring for Your American Shorthair
Amiable but independent, this breed is very playful when young but can get a bit sedentary later on in life. Once your ASH is a couple of years old, she may stop engaging in play as much and will prefer to curl up on your lap or nap on her favourite cushion. Like the similar British Shorthair, this breed is also very food-motivated and prone to obesity if free-fed. You’ll need to make sure that she eats moderate, healthy, high-protein meals no more than two or three times a day.
American Shorthairs benefit greatly from exercise. Make time to play with her several times a day. I like to use a fishing-pole toy with my American and British Shorthair cats. This generates a lot of exciting motion without requiring me to run around the room. Teaser toys can be used from the couch — fantastic when you’ve had a long day but still want to play with your cat.
Ensure that your American Shorthair gets a quick brushing once every week or two. They don’t really have many problems with matted fur, but brushing keeps their fur healthy and reduces hairballs.
Health Problems in American Shorthairs that can affect the lifespan.
This breed really only suffers from the same problems you might see in any domestic cat. It’s important that they get their scheduled vaccinations and see the vet at least once every year.
The most common health issues are things like flea infestations, worms, and the occasional infection. Check your cat’s eyes, nose and ears periodically for signs of irritation or discharge, and inspect her behind for worms now and then. Pay attention if there’s a change in her litter-box habits, as this can be a sign of a urinary tract infection.
The most serious health problem to look out for is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). Affected cats become lethargic and lose their appetites. They can exhibit difficulty in breathing and struggle with any exertion. Your vet should be on the lookout for this, particularly in older animals. With proper care, a cat with this condition can still live a normal and healthy life.