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American Shorthair vs Domestic Shorthair Cats: The Differences (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Hepper - American Shorthair vs Domestic Shorthair

No cat is exactly the same. Cats are affectionate and friendly. Some breeds may be shy or suspicious, while others are aggressive. The choice of a cat breed is determined by many factors, such as physical qualities, behavior, intellect, and more.

This article focuses on two breeds of Shorthair cats (the American Shorthair and the Domestic Shorthair). The most important thing is that they are from the same family and have many similar features. But still, there are some significant differences between them. That’s why it’s challenging to decide which one is a better pet for you.

The American and Domestic Shorthair cats are a hardy breed that originated in North America. Both cat breeds have been popular for many years and are still around today. There’s a lot of misconception about these two types of cats, but in this article you will learn facts about them and differences between the two breeds.

Visual Differences

Hepper - American Shorthair vs Domestic Shorthair Side by Side
Image Credit: left: American Shorthair Cat: Clement Morin, Shutterstock | Right: Domestic Shorthair Cat: Pixabay

At a Glance

American Shorthair
  • Origin: United States
  • Size: 10 to 14 inches; 9 to 14 pounds
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Domesticated: Yes
  • Temperament: Affectionate, social, bold
Domestic Shorthair
  • Origin: North America
  • Size: 8 to 10 inches; 6 to 12 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Domesticated: Yes
  • Temperament: Quiet, docile, affectionate, playful

American Shorthair Cat Overview

The American Shorthair is one of the most popular cat breeds native to the United States. It was created by crossbreeding native short-haired cats with long-haired cats.

The breed was developed to produce a hardy all-American cat.

It is a healthy cat breed with few severe genetic problems. These cats are more resilient than many other breeds and can live a long life if they are well cared for.

American Shorthair cats have a strong immune system and rarely get sick for long. The most common illness they will get is the common cold or the flu. But these usually last a couple of days at most. Giving them medication isn’t necessary.

Severe illnesses in this cat breed include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hyperthyroidism.

American shorthair kitten
Image Credit: Top Photo Engineer, Shutterstock

Characteristics and Personality

The American Shorthair is sturdy and muscular with a short body, round head, broad chest, short legs, and medium-sized ears. The tail is long and flowing. The cat’s coat is short and dense.

This breed comes in a wide range of colors, including cream, golden, silver, tawny brown, grey, cameo, red, and white. But generally, it’s considered to be a middle tone of brown.

The tail is darker than the back and paler at the tip. The eye color ranges from green, gold, copper, blue, and hazel. The nose leather is black, with a lighter area around it. Both sexes are similar in appearance with no visible differences.

This cat breed is gentle, loving, and trusting of its owners. The cats enjoy being around children and other pets, and they are known to be friendly with everyone in the family.

These cats enjoy moving around and playing with toys such as balls. They do well as indoor cats but like to spend time outside in warm weather. They are intelligent and affectionate towards their owners. But they can be somewhat aloof with strangers.

cream american shorthair
Image Credit: studiogala, Shutterstock

Domestic Shorthair Cat Overview

The Domestic Shorthair is a breed developed from mixed breeds of cats seen in North America in the 1700s. But there is some speculation about where this breed originated from. Many believe that the Domestic Shorthair cat was first seen in Scotland and was brought over to North America later on.

Domestic Shorthair cats are relatively easy to care for. But, like any other pet, they also need regular health check-ups and grooming to maintain their coat, which can become matted or dirty.

Allergies are a common cause of skin problems in Domestic Shorthair cats. Symptoms include redness, scratching, excessive licking of the feet or face, and hair loss. Usually, these symptoms can be alleviated with a change of diet. Also, you can get rid of them using special shampoos that reduce the effects of allergies.

domestic shorthair cat
Image Credit: Thewonderalice, Unsplash

Characteristics and Personality

The Domestic Shorthair has a medium body frame and a slim chest. The muzzle may be slightly rounded, narrow, or medium. Its nose is broad and wedge-shaped, while the ears are medium-sized and wide at the base.

These cats are known for their over 20 different coat colors and patterns. The most common colors include black, brown, red, and white with orange patterns.

Also, you can identify these cats by their eyes. They have medium-sized eyes that are round and are set apart from one another. The eyes also have unique colors ranging from golden-green to green to yellow-green, depending on the coat color.

Domestic Shorthair cats are quite athletic and muscular. But they also has a graceful gait making them ideal for climbing trees or jumping up in high places without being clumsy in any way. They have strong hind legs, which help them perform this task. The legs also give them an advantage when running fast to catch their prey if they go hunting for small animals.

They are curious by nature, which means that they are always exploring new things around them. This behavior may make them seem hyperactive at times because they don’t like sitting around all day. They also love being petted by their owners.

black domestic shorthair
Image credit: Pixabay

What Are the Differences Between American Shorthair Cat and Domestic Shorthair Cat?

Even though they look similar, there are some differences between an American and a Domestic Shorthair cat, as seen below.

  • Health: One of the most crucial differences is their health. The American Shorthair is healthier than the Domestic Shorthair because it has a higher immunity. For example, the American Shorthair has a lower risk of developing hairballs or diseases like Feline Asthma compared to the Domestic Shorthair cat.
  • Appearance: The American Shorthair cats have a broad face and body. Also, they have big eyes that are close together. On the other hand, Domestic Shorthair cats have oval-shaped faces and slim bodies. Also, they have big ears that are placed high on their heads.
  • Tail: American Shorthair and the Domestic Shorthair’s tails are slightly different. The tail of the Domestic Shorthair cat is plume-shaped, meaning it has a rounded tip and long, fluffy fur at the end. The tail of the American Shorthair is more pointed at the end, with a more solid feel to it.
  • Behavior: Both the American Shorthair cat and Domestic Shorthair cat belong to the same species. But they have different behaviors. The American breed is known for its sociability. The Domestic cat is an independent breed. Domestic cats are more active during the night, while American cats can be active during the day and night. They also have different vocal patterns. American cats make loud noises compared to Domestic cats, which are quieter when they meow.
  • Coat: The American Shorthair cat’s coat is short and smooth, while the Domestic Shorthair cat’s coat is much lusher and fluffier.
  • Living Environment: American Shorthairs are suited to living outdoors. It’s because they can survive in harsh climates than most Domestic Shorthair cats. Domestic Shorthair cats do not like being left alone for extended periods. It’s because they need companionship, or they may get lonely.
male silver tabby american shorthair cat lying on back
Image Credit: Apisit Hrpp, Shutterstock

Which Breed Is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing the perfect cat breed, there are many factors you might want to consider. Will it be suitable for your lifestyle? What cat features do you prefer? Are there any special needs that come along with this cat breed? These are questions that every prospective cat owner should ask and weigh carefully before choosing their future pet.

As you can see, there are distinct differences between American and Domestic Shorthair cats. It makes it easy to see why some people think they look better than other cat breeds or have different personalities. It comes down to what you like best and which cat breed works for you.

While both breeds are good, the Domestic Shorthair would be ideal for people living in smaller houses or apartments, but if you want a cat that loves to sit on your lap, the American Shorthair cat will do.


Featured Image Credit: Left: American Shorthair Cat: Lalandrew, Shutterstock | Right: Domestic Shorthair Cat: Pixabay

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