British Shorthair

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british shorthair cat portrait
Meet the British Shorthair, a feline breed that's as quintessentially British as afternoon tea and double-decker buses! Known for their plush blue coats, round faces, and charmingly robust physique, these cats are the epitome of calm and cool.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, care, health concerns, history, and more!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEBritish Shorthair
OTHER NAMESBritish Blue
ORIGINUnited Kingdom
HEIGHT12-14 inches
WEIGHT8-20 lbs
LIFESPAN14-20 years
COAT LENGTHShort
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
GROOMING NEEDSLow
SOCIAL NEEDSModerate
ENERGY LEVELLow
VOCAL LEVELLow
british shorthair cat lying on the sofa
Photo: Foto-front/Getty Images

Appearance

The British Shorthair is a medium-to-large-sized cat breed that’s known for its robust and sturdy physique. They have a distinctively round face, complemented by full cheeks and a broad, muscular neck.

Their heads are large and rounded with wide-set ears that are of medium size. The eyes of a British Shorthair are also round, usually ranging in color from gold to copper. Their expression often seems to be a perpetual smile, adding to their irresistible charm.

Their body is solid and compact, with a broad chest and short, strong legs. The tail of the British Shorthair is thick at the base, rounding off at the tip. This breed is well-known for their dense, plush double coat that adds to their overall rounded appearance.

While they are most famous for their “British Blue” variant – a solid blue-gray coat, British Shorthairs come in a variety of colors and patterns including black, white, red, cream, silver, and golden, as well as tabby and colorpoint patterns.

When it comes to weight, males typically weigh between 12 and 20 pounds, while females range between 8 and 14 pounds. Despite their substantial weight, they carry it well with their muscular build, giving them an overall appearance of strength and stability.

british shorthair's face
Photo: 惠君 廖/Pexels

Temperament

The British Shorthair is a cat breed that’s known for its easygoing and friendly nature. They are not overly demanding of attention, making them an ideal companion for those who enjoy a more independent feline. While they’re not the type to constantly demand cuddles, they’re still very affectionate and loyal to their human companions.

British Shorthairs are typically calm and collected, seldom displaying hyperactive behaviors. They’re playful, but not boisterous, and enjoy a nice play session as much as a cozy nap. Known for their intelligence, these cats are also quite inquisitive, often showing interest in their surroundings.

While they can be a bit reserved towards strangers, they quickly warm up once they get to know them better. They are sociable cats that can get along well with other pets and children, making them great for families. Despite their sociability, they are not excessively dependent and can entertain themselves when needed.

Their gentle and patient demeanor, combined with their robust build, makes them an excellent choice for households with children. They’re not high-maintenance cats, but they do require regular grooming due to their dense coat.

Overall, the temperament of the British Shorthair is balanced and adaptable. They are a perfect blend of being active without being overly energetic, and affectionate without being needy. This makes them a wonderful companion for both individuals and families.

british shorthair cat lying on the sofa
Photo: elenaleonova/Getty Images Signature

Care

Grooming

The British Shorthair is known for their plush, dense coat. Despite its thickness, it requires only minimal grooming. You should brush your British Shorthair once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting.

During the late spring or early summer months when they are shedding more heavily, you may need to increase the frequency of brushing. Regular grooming not only helps maintain the health and appearance of their coat but also provides a great bonding experience for you and your feline friend.

Exercise and Play

British Shorthairs are not as active as some other breeds, but they still require regular play and exercise to keep them healthy and entertained.

Interactive toys can provide mental stimulation, while play sessions with toys like feather wands or laser pointers can encourage physical activity. Despite their calm demeanor, they enjoy a good game and appreciate the engagement with their human companion.

Diet and Nutrition

Nutrition is an important aspect of caring for a British Shorthair. They have a sturdy, muscular build that needs to be maintained with a balanced diet. High-quality commercial cat food that meets or exceeds nutritional standards is generally recommended.

Portion control is important to prevent overfeeding, as this breed can be prone to obesity. Always ensure fresh water is available for your cat. Regular vet check-ups will help monitor their weight and overall health, allowing for any necessary adjustments in their diet.

Health

The British Shorthair is generally a healthy and robust breed with a life expectancy of 14 to 20 years. However, like all breeds, they can be susceptible to certain health conditions. It’s important to be aware of these potential issues to ensure your cat enjoys a long and healthy life.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): This is a form of heart disease that is fairly common in the breed. Regular veterinary screenings can help detect this condition early.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): This inherited condition, common in breeds that have been crossed with Persians, can cause kidney failure. A DNA test can identify carriers of the disease.

Dental Disease: British Shorthairs are prone to periodontal diseases, so regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings are necessary.

Obesity: Due to their laid-back nature, British Shorthairs can easily become overweight. It’s crucial to monitor food intake and ensure they get regular exercise.

Arterial Thromboembolism: This is a heart condition that can lead to sudden paralysis of the hind legs. Regular vet check-ups can help catch and manage this issue.

To keep your British Shorthair healthy, it’s essential to provide a balanced diet tailored to their age, size, and activity level. Regular exercise and playtime can help prevent obesity. Vet checks, including vaccinations and preventative treatments for fleas and worms, are crucial. Remember, early detection of any health issues often leads to more effective treatment.

british shorthair cat lying on carpet
Photo: JiriSebesta/Getty Images

History

The British Shorthair, one of the oldest and most well-established cat breeds, boasts a rich history that traces back to the first century AD. It’s believed that these cats were brought to Britain by the Romans, with origins possibly linking them to domestic cats from Rome and Egypt.

Over time, these imported cats mated with the local wildcats, resulting in the breed we know today as the British Shorthair. These cats were highly esteemed for their physical strength and hunting prowess, making them an integral part of controlling pests in homes and farms throughout Britain.

Fast forward to the late 19th century, the British Shorthair gained official recognition as a pedigree breed. In the 1870s, Harrison Weir, often referred to as the ‘Father of the Cat Fancy’, included British Shorthairs in the first-ever cat show at London’s Crystal Palace. He was instrumental in creating breed standards for the British Shorthair, which are still largely followed today.

In terms of international recognition, the British Shorthair was first registered by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1979. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) began registering the breed in 1980, but it wasn’t until 1986 that the breed gained championship status, allowing it to compete at shows with other recognized breeds.

Today, the British Shorthair is loved worldwide for its plush coat, round face, and sturdy physique. Despite its ancient roots, this breed remains a popular choice among cat enthusiasts for its easygoing nature and charming appearance.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines that describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breed standards are devised by breed clubs and recognized by various cat registries worldwide.

These standards provide detailed descriptions of the breed’s physical characteristics such as body shape, size, coat type and color, eye color and shape, ear placement, and tail length.

group of british shorthair kittens relaxing at home
Photo: HD92

FAQs

Why are British Shorthair cats so expensive?

The high cost of British Shorthair cats is due to several factors including breeding costs, veterinary care, and the fact that they’re a pedigree breed with a long history. Also, their unique features, personality traits, and the popularity of the breed contribute to the price.

Why are British Shorthairs so friendly?

British Shorthairs are known for their even-tempered and easygoing nature. They are social creatures that enjoy the company of their human companions, as well as other pets. While they may be a bit reserved initially, they warm up quickly and become very affectionate.

Is the British Shorthair a good cat breed to own?

Absolutely! Their calm demeanor, robust health, and low-maintenance grooming needs make them an excellent choice for many households. They’re great companions and get along well with other pets and children.

How active are British Shorthairs?

While they’re not as hyperactive as some breeds, British Shorthairs do enjoy playtime and can be quite playful. However, they are also content to have quiet time and are not overly demanding of attention.

Are British Shorthairs good indoor cats?

Yes, they are. British Shorthairs are perfectly suited to indoor living. They’re not known for being climbers or jumpers, and their laid-back nature makes them ideal for apartment living.

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