Acquired: Other (stray, given cat by friend etc.)
New York, United States
Posted Mar 16, 2013
Nightshade is a black cat and he's polydactyl (has many toes. 7 on each back paw and 4 fully intact front paws with 5 toes each). Polydactyl cats require a little more attention and sometimes have problems that most other cats don't have. Wiz is our other current american shorthair kitty. He's "normal" I guess you'd say but does have more dander being a multicolored kitty.
Nightshade, for example, has to have soft things, such as a blanket, to kneed on instead of a traditional scratching post. Due to his front paws being the way they are, he can get hung, stuck, or pull out his middle claws easily which is very painful. We have to bathe him once a month because he has some balance problems if he tries to bathe himself. Now he doesn't even both with cleaning himself because he's so used to us doing it for him. He also has some issues with jumping onto things because of how his front paws are (he does have 4).
Black cats actually have less dander. So if you have a cat allergy, a black cat might be perfect for you. My husband has a cat allergy and as long as Nightshade doesn't sleep by his face, he has no problems. Black cats usually don't clean themselves as much as other colored cats. If you watch them, you'll notice this. This is because black cats tend to have a bit thicker fur so it takes lot for dirt to really get in there to where they have to clean and they usually don't go looking for dirt like some other cats. Our Wiz gets dirty pretty easily and his fur tends to attract dirt.
Always always always get your kitty fixed. Always. Male cats will and can spray all over your house. It helps their health as well. Female cats who aren't fixed have more of a chance of ovarian cancer, uti's, and bladder infections.
American shorthairs in general are very good cats, usually have next to no health problems except an occasional allergy when the seasons change, and are very loving and sociable. From all of the cats of this breed I have owned, took in, and have had a garage full of them as strays (over 40 different ones of all ages), the black cats seem to be the most docile and person oriented. All cats need to be treated with respect, love, and understanding that they are a cat, they can hurt you, and they can be scared of you. They are great cats for children. Nightshade grew up with my oldest son and they were babies at the same time. They're inseparable best friends. They can be a noisy/vocal ct when they want attention and usually will seek it out.
American short hairs can live an average of 11 years, based on my personal experience. They are resourceful usually and can survive outdoors, even though it's not at all what I recommend. There are plenty of human, animal, and parasitic threats to cats who are even outdoors a little while. It is best to not feed them "people" food due to the risk of them developing an allergy, skin issue, coat issue, or weight problem. If your kitty scratches your furniture and you don't like it, teach them when they're young or as soon as you get them if you adopt. We have a different breed of cat we adopted and she's 9 years old. We got her about 3 years ago and have taught her all the rules of the house. Cats are very intelligent in general and learn quickly. You can teach an american shorthair a few tricks such as to sit and patience, if they don't have it.
As a general rule for any cat, please do not declaw. It causes problems such as arthritis, painful walking, balance and coordination issues, and not being able to use cat litter. God forbid if your kitty does get out, it has no way to defend itself and can get hurt. If you do choose to declaw, please make sure you have soft places for your kitty to go, including the cat box.
They generally don't have many, or any health problems except if you live in a climate where the weather is humid or hot to cold. Then they can usually have ear mites so it's important to always check their ears if they're scratching.