British Shorthairs are a stocky, compact and powerful breed with broad chests, strong legs, and a calm, quiet demeanour. They are valued for their endurance and loyalty to people.
The British Shorthair, probably the oldest English breed of cat, traces its ancestry back to the domestic cat of Rome. The breed was developed in Europe from non-pedigree cats. Later they were crossbred with Persian Cats to improve the thickness of their coat. The breed was defined in the nineteenth century and British Shorthairs were shown at the 1871 Crystal Palace cat show. The popularity of the breed had declined by the 1940s, but since the end of the Second World War breeding programs have intensified and the breed's popularity is high once again.
British Shorthairs have very dense, plush coats that are often described as crisp or cracking, which refers to the way the coat breaks over the cat's body contours. Eyes are large, round and copper in colour. They have round heads with full, chubby cheeks and a body that is rounded and sturdy. British Shorthairs are large and muscular, and are described as having a cobby build. The breed has a broad chest, shoulders and hips with short legs, round paws and a plush but not fluffy tail. These are the characteristics listed in most governing bodies breeds standards to which show cats must conform.
The males of this breed are larger than the females, and the size difference between them is more easily noticed compared to other breeds. As with many breeds the adult males may also develop prominent cheek jowls that distinguish them from their female counterparts.
The typical lifespan of this breed is 14 to 20 years.
Males' average weight is 5-10 kilograms, whereas a female would weigh up to 5-7.
British Shorthairs come in many colours. For many years the more popular blue variant was common enough to have a breed name of its own: the 'British Blue'. It remains one of the most popular colours in the breed, however there are now a large variety of other colour and pattern variations accepted by most feline governing bodies and associations. These include the colours black, blue, white, red, cream, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn. They can be bred in "self" or "solid" which is all the one colour as well as the colourpoint, tabby, shaded and bicolour patterns. All colours and patterns also come in the tortoiseshell pattern which is a combination of red and cream with other colours. Of these colours chocolate and it's dilute version lilac are relatively new. A lilac British Shorthair is described as having a pink-grey coat. Even newer are British Shorthair cats in cinnamon and its dilute form fawn. British are also bred in a shaded (tipped) coat pattern, in both the silver and the golden form.
British Shorthair's are an easygoing breed of cats. They have a stable character and take well to being kept as indoor only cats. This is ideal for apartment living. It also keeps them safe from harm that might befall them outside. They are not terribly demanding of attention, although they will let you know if they feel like playing and enjoy mouse type or stick style toys. They are not hyperactive or "in your face cats" preferring to sit next to you or near you rather than on you. They will tend to supervise household activities either watching from a comfy perch or laying on the floor nearby.
British Shorthairs are wonderful cats for people who work as they are very happy just to laze around the house while you are out. They don't get destructive or need other animals for company. They do enjoy having another British Shorthair or a cat with a similar temperament around though.
They like attention and enjoy being petted. They are not a very vocal breed but will meow to communicate with their owners. For example when they are hungry and you are preparing their food they will meow at you. They may also meow at their favourite toy as they play with it. British Shorthair cats have a tendency to follow people from room to room as they want to be with you and see what is going on. Some do not mind being cuddled but most prefer to keep four paws on the ground and have you pat them rather than pick them up.
The breed has become a favourite of animal trainers because of its nature and intelligence, and in recent years these cats have appeared in Hollywood films and television commercials. British Shorthair owners have reported that their cats have spontaneously started to play fetch with toys like dogs do showing how quickly their cats can learn small tricks.
The British Shorthair does not require a lot of grooming because the fur does not tangle or mat easily. However, it is recommended that the coat be brushed now and again, especially during seasonal shedding. They can be prone to obesity when desexed or kept indoors.
Last updated: 2010-11-17