It is believed that cats arrived in Britain during the Roman period. These cats were often domesticated and became working cats, catching rodents.
There are two suggestions as to how the British Shorthair came to be:
Some sources say that Harrison Weir himself created the breed, others say that a group of cat lovers selectively bred the best examples of these working cats and they were developed into a pedigree breed. These were exhibited at the first cat show, organised by Harrison Weir at Crystal Palace in 1871.
Originally shorthaired cats dominated the early cat shows but by 1896 the longhaired breeds were favoured and shorthairs had declined in numbers.
In an attempt to rescue the declining short haired cats, Short-haired Cat Society was formed in 1901 and this club catered for, amongst other breeds the British Shorthair.
During World War, I many breeds of the cat were almost decimated. The British Shorthair was one such breed. After the war, breeders attempted to re-establish the breed. As numbers were low, British Shorthairs were sometimes mated to Persian cats. The GCCF objected to the use of Persian cats and the offspring were not permitted to be shown or registered as British Shorthairs. The offspring were mated back to British Shorthairs and after three generations they were permitted to be registered as British Shorthairs.
In the 1930’s, Kit Wilson became involved with the breed. After World War II very few British Shorthairs survived. Breeders turned to unregistered domestics, Russian Blue’s and Chartreux to help restore the breed. The offspring of these matings didn’t match the British Shorthair type so once again Persians were used to try and re-create the look of the British type.
The British Shorthair is a medium to large sized cat. The body is sturdy and muscular and often described as cobby. The coat is short, dense and plush. The legs are heavy boned, short with round paws. The tail is short to medium in length.
His head is massive and rounded with a broad skull. The ears are small and set wide apart. The eyes are large and round.
British Shorthairs are good-natured, amiable. As kittens, they are playful but adult British Shorthairs tend to be less active than other breeds. They are a fairly independent breed of cat and are happy to amuse themselves (often by snoozing). They are not a vocal cat.
Words used to describe the British Shorthair include calm, affable, intelligent, quiet, independent.