Most well-recognized for their stocky, chunky build, the British Shorthair is a unique and pleasant cat that has been keeping families company for centuries. These thick-coated felines can be found in nearly any color or pattern that a person could think of.
With their teddy bear-like appearance, chubby cheeks, and fuzzy coat, it's easy to see why this cat has remained a favorite for so many years.
Before they became one of the most popular breeds in Great Britain, the British Shorthair had quite an interesting journey.
Being an ancient breed, there are many tales and stories about the British Shorthair’s origin. However, these cats can first be traced to the Egyptians. Oftentimes, these cats would join people along trade routes, and it was along one of these routes that the Romans got ahold of the cats and smuggled them out of Egypt.
As the Romans began colonizing and conquering lands, they brought British Shorthairs along with them, in order to protect their food and homes from various rodents. In fact, it’s because of the Romans that there’s a widespread appearance of these felines, especially across the British Isles.
Eventually, the Romans were run out of the Isles, but the cats they brought with them remained.
After being in their new homeland for some time, these cats began to mix with European wildcats. European wildcats were known for their broader and rounder physical attributes, and their short, thick coats. As a result, this new mixed Shorthair cat began to resemble the British Shorthair appearance we know so well today.
Adapting to their new lifestyle on the streets of England, these cats became hardier and more prepared to live in damp, cool temperatures. For hundreds of years, these cats protected barns, granaries, gardens, houses, and streets from pesky rodents, and these faithful felines were happy to do the job.
Near the 1800s, the residents of Britain began recognizing just how useful, loyal, and kind the British Shorthair was. People loved these cats so much that they now wanted the cats as companions inside of their homes.
In order to create an ideal, domestic version of the British Shorthair, Harrison Weir—known by many as “the father of cat fancy”—began breeding these desirable cats. In 1871, he even showcased the British Shorthair at London’s Crystal Palace, in an event that many now consider being the first cat show.
Around the turn of the century, many British shorthairs were also crossed with Persian cats, resulting in a British Longhair cat. For decades, the Longhair surpassed the Shorthair in popularity.
Although WWI depleted the Shorthair population, WWII nearly ran these felines into extinction. In order to protect these cats from permanently disappearing, they were crossed with Persians, Russian Blues, and various other cats.
As their population grew and their numbers became steady near the 1970s, the popularity of these adorable cats steadily grew as well. Looking at their prevalence in British households today, it’s difficult to imagine a world without these chubby-cheeked cuties.
Distinguishing one cat breed from another can serve as a confusing process. One of the more efficient ways, however, is to simply learn more about a cat’s appearance and personality. Read on to learn the answers to some of the most common British Shorthair-related questions.
They do shed, compared to other cats, though, British Shorthairs do not shed excessively. However, Shorthairs experience seasonal shedding during spring and fall—so get your lint brush ready to pick up some cat hair.
In short, no, British Shorthairs are not a hypoallergenic cat breed. Unfortunately for cat allergy sufferers, this would not be a good choice of a cat.
Considered to be medium to large in size, British Shorthairs can weigh more than the average cat. Females typically weigh 9-15 pounds, and males are 12-18 pounds.
On average, Shorthairs can live anywhere from 12-17 years. This number can be affected by many factors, including the cat’s diet and exercise plan, living situation, and overall health.
When it comes to the British Shorthair personality, it’s difficult to think of any drawbacks. Best described as subdued, this is one feline who will not be begging for attention 24/7. Shorthairs will gladly entertain themselves when they are left home alone, so no worries if you’ll be at work all day. When you are in the house, they will often follow you around and curl up next to you.
Even though they enjoy receiving attention and one-on-one time, British Shorthairs do not always like sitting on laps or being carried around. Of course, each Shorthair has their own unique personality, so the possibility still stands that your cat could be more comfortable with being handled.
Since British Shorthairs do not shed excessively, a weekly brushing will often suffice. However, they do experience seasonal shedding during spring and fall, so your cat may require extra brushings during that time. Similar to other cat breeds, it’s important to brush their teeth and check their ears on a weekly basis. Their nails will need trimming only as needed. Establishing a grooming routine at a young age will allow your cat to become comfortable and acclimated to being groomed.
British Shorthairs are not overly active cats, and they enjoy munching on delicious food as often as they can. This combination of being a sedentary and snack-loving cat means that obesity can be a concern for many Shorthair parents. Some of the best ways to ensure that your four-legged friend does not become overweight are to make sure they are receiving enough daily exercise and eating an appropriate amount of food at each meal.
If you are unsure if your cat’s diet or exercise plan is right for them, talk to your veterinarian.
According to our claims data*, the top 5 most common health issues that affect British Shorthairs include:
Although it is not common, British Shorthairs can also be susceptible to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and hemophilia B. HCM is the most common form of heart disease among cats, and hemophilia B is a blood clotting disorder that can oftentimes be diagnosed at a young age.
Although these health problems may affect some British Shorthairs, that does not mean every cat will develop any or all of these conditions. Shorthairs are known to be a fairly healthy cat that is not often affected by genetic diseases.
Check out these interesting and fun facts about the British Shorthair!
From 2011-2014, a British Shorthair cat held the title for the world’s loudest purr.
Some well-known fictional cats have been based on British Shorthairs—or so many people claim. The most popular cats include Puss in Boots and the Cheshire Cat.
British Shorthairs are known as one of the oldest cat breeds in the world.
Although their coat can be found in nearly any color or pattern, they originally were known for their solid, blueish grey colored coat—earning them the nickname of British Blue.
With such a uniquely textured coat, many people have noted that these cats do not feel fluffy, but instead feel plush.
Need some help choosing a name for your new Shorthair? Check out these options.
*Internal Claims Data, 2019
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.