American Shorthairs (ASHs) are a medium to large breed. There are certainly much bigger cats (the Norwegian Forest cat springs to mind) but the American Shorthair cat definitely holds his own in terms of size. I’ve seen full-grown American Shorthair toms who tipped the scales at around 9 kg (almost 20 lb) by the time they were fully grown, although female ASH cats are a bit smaller. They also have a charmingly stocky configuration, with rounded features, sturdy bones and lots of muscle. If you’re a fan of fairly hefty cats, this is definitely the breed for you!
When are American Shorthair cats full grown? Typically, American Shorthair cats will attain their full adult growth within the first three years of life. Some are fully grown by the age of two. The male American Shorthair will often be over 6 kg when fully grown while females are smaller. Larger sizes are possible.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about American Shorthairs and their growth. Maybe you’re pondering whether to get an ASH, and you want to know how big they’ll get. Perhaps you already have an American Shorthair kitten and you’re wondering when he’s likely to stop growing. How big to American Shorthairs get? When will an American Shorthair be full-grown? How big is too big? What do you need to know about caring for larger cats? Keep reading, as we have the answers. In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about American Shorthair growth.
When Are American Shorthair Cats Full Grown?
Unlike the very similar British Shorthair, which can keep growing until the age of four, an American Shorthair will usually stop growing by the age of around three. Some stop growing much earlier. By the time your ASH is two years old, you will have a pretty good idea of how big he or she is going to get since any growth after this age is going to be quite slow.
As new-borns, male and female American Shorthairs are much the same size. They’ll put on roughly 500-700g in weight every month, with females lagging behind their brothers in terms of growth. The dimorphism in this cats need plenty of attention from their humans to be happy. Remember, this is the same breed is less pronounced than in, say, the British Shorthair, but female ASH cats are smaller and lighter than their brothers, with a slightly daintier configuration.
In their kitty adolescence (around five to eight months) American Shorthairs can take on a slightly gangly look. Personally, I find this feline “awkward age” rather endearing, but it worries some cat carers who think that their kittens aren’t growing properly. Let me reassure any anxious ASH owners out there that this is quite normal, a result of lengthening bones. The solid musculature will catch up in good time.
All cats of this breed are stocky and muscular, with broad shoulders and rounded heads. Coupled with their short, thick coats this gives them a charmingly cuddly appearance — they’re a cat you just want to pick up and hug. Luckily, the American Shorthair is very fond of cuddles. They enjoy lap-time, hugs, and even being picked up and carried. I know one fellow owner whose American Shorthair likes to be gathered up in his arms and carried around the house like a baby.
Despite their affectionate and social nature, the American Shorthair is fairly independent. As long as you give them plenty of attention when you are around, they’ll do just fine by themselves when you’re out at work. They’re great family cats, and also a good choice for the single professional who’s out and about during the day.
Everything for larger cats needs to be appropriately sized. You can save yourself a lot of problems by ensuring that beds, cat trees, scratching posts and litter boxes are properly sized for your cat. In the next section, we’ll look at getting the size right as your cat attains his or her full adult growth.
Big Cats, Big Everything
While not all American Shorthairs will achieve the full majestic 9 kg weight mentioned above, they do tend to get on the large side. Take this into consideration when looking at kitty equipment.
Cat perches are a fantastic idea. Cats, including American Shorthair, absolutely love having a nice high spot where they can hang out and watch everything that goes on in and around the home. They’re much less fantastic, however, if they come away from their moorings and dump your frightened cat on the floor. If you want your American Shorthair to enjoy a new perch, make sure it’s securely fastened to the wall or another support.
My personal bugbears are those cat perches that attach to windows or tiled walls with suction cups. Great concept in principle, as they could allow your cat to sit by the window and observe the outside. In practice, they’re often just not sturdy enough to support a healthy adult cat. Instead, get a broad shelf and attach it firmly to the wall, or invest in a large and well-made cat tree.
Scratching posts are a real necessity for a happy, healthy cat. Many people complain that their cats are destructive, when the real problem is simply that they don’t have more appropriate locations for scratching. Scratching isn’t just pleasurable for cats — they’re necessary to help shed old claw sheaths, and to exercise the cat’s muscles and tendons.
Your cat’s scratching post should be tall enough that the cat can stand up on hind legs with forelegs fully extended. If this isn’t possible, the cat can’t properly exercise all the muscles in the upper body, including those of the chest. This leads to an uncomfortable cat who’ll tend to attack your furniture.
Litter-boxes should be larger than those usually sold at pet stores. Your cat should be able to turn around fully inside the box. Ideally I would say that a litter-box should be as wide as your cat is long, and as long as the cat plus half the cat’s length. If you can’t find an actual litter-box that’s big enough, you can cut down a plastic storage crate of suitable dimensions.
Is My American Shorthair Getting Too Big?
The American Shorthair kitten is a happy, playful creature with energy to spare. After the first year or so, this breed becomes more sedate. Your cat won’t run around as much and will tend to gain weight if allowed to free-feed. A healthy weight will depend on the cat’s frame; your vet can help you to determine whether your cat is getting too big or not.
As a rule of thumb, I would say that you should be able to run your hands along your cat’s flanks and just barely feel his ribs. Your American Shorthair cat should not have visibly protruding bones — you should be able to feel them, though, with a little pressure. If you can’t, it may be time to think about changing your pet’s diet and introducing more exercise.
I strongly recommend that this breed should not be free-fed. They really like their food and will often fuss for more even when they’re not really hungry. Give good quality wet food two to three times a day. For an adult American Shorthair, it’s important to provide high-protein food without cheap fillers. These ingredients add calories but they don’t provide much in the way of useful nutrition. Choose a grain-free formula with a high meat content.
If your cat is used to bigger and more frequent feeds, he may struggle to adjust to smaller amounts. A slow feeder dish with ridges and convolutions that stops him wolfing down his food is a good option, as are puzzle toys that he needs to work on in order to get the kibble inside.
Exercise is really important for cats, and the ASH is no exception. This breed can get a bit lazy once they’re all grown up, but they do have a very strong prey instinct which you can use to get them to exercise. Engage their hunting instincts with teaser toys that they can chase. I recommend at least two extended play sessions, ideally of at least 20 minutes each. This breed also takes very well to being harness-trained, so walks on a lead are another option. Plenty of exercise will get your ASH back into shape and set him up for a long and healthy life.