British Shorthair Profile – History, Appearance and Temperament

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History of the British Shorthair     Appearance     Temperament     Colours     Special requirements     Suitable for

Blue British Shorthair cat

British Shorthair at a glance

  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Energy: Medium
  • Temperament: Good-natured, quiet, independent, amiable
  • Weight: Males 6-9 kg (13.2 – 19.8 lbs), females 4-6 kg (8.8 – 13.2 lbs)
  • Colours: Blue, black, red, fawn, lilac, chocolate, cinnamon in solid and bicolour
  • Grooming: Requires weekly grooming
  • Other names:  British Blue
  • Cost: $900-1,500
  • Also see: British breeds of cat

About

Pointed British Shorthair cat

The British Shorthair is the pedigreed version of the traditional British domestic cat. They have a distinctive chunky body, dense coat and a broad face.

History of the British Shorthair cat

Close up of British Shorthair cat

The Romans are credited with the spread of cats from Egypt to Greece and throughout the Roman Empire. However, domestic cats reached Britain before the Romans, which we still cannot explain. What we do know is that cats formed a symbiotic relationship with man; their role was to keep rodent populations in check. 

There are two theories as to the origins of the British Shorthair: 

  1. Some say Harrison Weir himself created the breed, while others believe a group of cat lovers selectively bred the best examples of working cats. These cats were exhibited at the first cat show, organised by Harrison Weir at Crystal Palace in 1871.
  2. Initially, 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 outcrossed 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 allowed to be registered as British Shorthairs.

In the 1930s, 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.

Appearance of the British Shorthair

Blue British Shorthair cat

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 Shorthair temperament

British Shorthair cat

Amiable, friendly and laid back describe the British Shorthair. As kittens, they are playful, but adult British Shorthairs tend to be less active than other breeds. They are a reasonably 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.

British Shorthair colours

Classic tabby British Shorthair cat

British Shorthairs are sometimes referred to as British Blue, but the breed comes in many colours, patterns, and markings. Blue is the most recognised colour.

Special requirements

Two British Shorthair cats

British Shorthairs are a very low maintenance breed. A weekly brush will remove any loose hairs from the coat.

Dental care is essential for all cats, either daily brushing with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste or by giving your cat raw chicken necks or chunks of steak 2-3 times a week.

An annual veterinary checkup will help to keep your cat healthy and happy.

Suitable for

White British Shorthair between two blue British Shorthairs

Due to their easygoing, laid back and independent nature, British shorthairs make ideal pets. They get along with children and other pets.

Related breeds

British semi-longhair

Calico British semi-longhair