American Shorthair

Overall satisfaction


Acquired: Other (stray, given cat by friend etc.)

Gender: Female





Friendly with owners


Good with dogs




Appropriate vocalization






Easy to groom


Need for attention


Strays are a sad tale


United States

Posted Dec 03, 2013

One night on the way home from work almost a decade ago, a stray calico started to follow me home. I figured at first it would just tail me to the edge of her territory and then slink off.

She stayed on my front porch for two weeks and I let her in as the snow started to pelt down in the first blizzard of the year.

Shortly later, shots and spaying completed, I learned the harsh tale of her life. The vet removed several fragments of a pellet from her chest and flank and she displayed a large distrust of being held or picked up. It took a year for her to be comfortable with me holding her and picking her up, and even under her terms she was still wary.

Now, I can't seem to get to sleep without a nightly cleaning of my beard or elbows (what's that about?) and the sound of her thrumming purr at my pillow.

Upsides, as a domestic shorthair, she doesn't shed much - though your black and darker gray clothing will show the evidence of a cat in residence if you leave the laundry out. They are also fastidious groomers, doing their best to keep clean and neat.

They also are not overly picky eaters comparatively, and mine loves dry food but goes insane if she sees me with a can of wet. She knows when it's a can of soda, a can of beans, or a can of treats for her.

Litter training is easy as well, and they tend to be good about covering and alerting you if the litter needs to be scooped...or at least this one does. Daily minimum is suggested for cats in general.

Downside, a picky groomer can lead to hairballs if you don't use a food with a hairball preventative, though not as bad as a longhair. There is also the tendency that all cats have to kneed with their front claws. Through damage to one of her front paws, the vets suggested front declawing my cat for her comfort which I consented to. This has lead to some amusing jump-fails and has cut out possible furniture damage.

Now, with strays, it's important not to free feed at first, as they will gorge to the point of vomiting at times from their habit of scrounging. Starting with a small amount at regular intervals is good to establish that they will always have food and when they start leaving portions in the bowl you can start to free feed. I have a medium plastic soup bowl that I use for my cat and fill it a quarter full every other evening as she is a delicate eater.

Another thing to be wary of is houseplants. Cats love to both hide in and nibble on these. Some can be toxic to a cat. If you have to have some sort of greenery indoors, I suggest Lemongrass, as it adds color to the room and is safe for cats to eat.

Lastly, if you have young children, playtime should only be supervised, as cats can be fickle and choose to leave and the child might grab at their tail to keep them from leaving. This could injure the delicate joints of the tail or be uncomfortable which would cause the cat to react as anything would in pain. Children under seven can be fine with a cat as long as they understand that a cat can leave if it wants to. They aren't as tolerant of toddlers as dogs.

Also, from a current multi-cat household: introduction to new cats is a very specific procedure that MUST be observed. It may be time-costly, but it will save you trouble in the end. Cats are VERY territorial creatures, and even two that get along great will have the occasional tousle over a patch of sunlight. Most of the time it's not more than wrestling, but this can escalate if the cats were not socialized properly.

I love all my cats, even the hyperactive ginger tabby.

I love all my cats, even the EXTREMELY hyperactive ginger tabby.

I'll be right back...

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