The American shorthair was one of two cat breeds used to create the Bombay, a sleek, gleaming black beauty. Though the Bombay is more panther-like in her appearance, she shares many traits with her relative. No matter which breed Kitty is, you're sharing your home with a smart, engaging family member.
You may not be able to trace your ancestors to the Mayflower, but it's possible Kitty can. American shorthairs earned passage to the new world by keeping ships and pioneer homes free of of vermin. They were prized for their rat-catching skills, but their easygoing nature and good looks added to their popularity. The Cat Fanciers Association recognized the breed in 1906 as the "Domestic Shorthair," one of five of its first registered breeds. In 1966 the breed was officially named "American Shorthair" to differentiate it from randomly bred cats. In the 1950s, Kentucky breeder Nikki Horner developed the Bombay, selectively breeding a black American shorthair with a sable female Burmese. Through painstaking work, she was able to consistently produce the Bombay, a unique black cat bred specifically to look like a panther. The CFA recognized the Bombay in 1976.
It's easy to mistake an American shorthair a for non-pedigree cat, just as another randomly bred cat can resemble a Maine coon or Siamese. A pedigree cat will consistently produce cats of the same physical build, coat and temperament. American shorthair cats come in a variety of colors, including black, as well as different patterns. They're of medium size and length, with full cheeks and medium-to-large eyes that are mostly round. Though Bombays are descended from American shorthairs, their looks are a bit different. The two cats share the rounded head, however Bombays' eyes are large, gold or copper colored and round. Although about the same size and length of the American shorthair, Bombays have a sleeker appearance and satiny coats.
If Kitty's an American shorthair, she's probably a friendly, affectionate family member who enjoys being held. This playful girl can entertain herself when she gets bored and is smart enough to learn to use her scratching post instead of your favorite chair to sharpen her claws. If a pup's in the house, she probably gets along with him quite well. The Bombay, also intelligent, is adept at learning games, such as fetch, and is often willing to walk on a leash. Like her cousin, she's affectionate and intelligent and gets along with other family members, be it canine or human. This mischievous girl is more talkative than her American shorthair relative.
Both the Bombay and the American shorthair are basically healthy cats, though both are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. HCM is the most common type of heart disease in cats, and causes thickening of the heart muscle. Bombays are vulnerable to excessive tearing of the eyes and potential breathing difficulties because of their shorter muzzles. With proper diet and care, both cats can expect to live 15 years or more.