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  • Post published:23/02/2022
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British Shorthair cat

The British shorthair cat is a medium-to-large-sized cat breed with a short, dense coat and a distinctive rounded head and face that make it look a lot like a cuddly teddy bear. The British shorthair cat is sweet and affectionate without being needy or clingy. This breed hails from the United Kingdom where it developed naturally and was the region’s original domestic shorthaired cat. Originally, many British shorthairs were blue colored (a gray hue), but today’s British shorthair comes in a veritable rainbow of colors and patterns, including solid, bicolor, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, and more. 

Breed Overview

OTHER NAMES: British blue.

PERSONALITY: Affectionate, easy-going, and calm.

WEIGHT: About 7 to 17 pounds, with males slightly larger.

LENGTH: About 22 to 25 inches. 

COAT LENGTH: Short and very dense. Not double coated or woolly.

COAT COLOR: Many solid and patterned colors, including white, black, blue, red, cream, smoke, silver, golden, cameo, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, and bicolor.

EYE COLOR: Varies depending on coat color and pattern, but may be blue, gold, copper, green, blue-green, hazel or odd-eyed (eyes of two different colors).

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 16 years.

HYPOALLERGENIC: No.

ORIGIN: United Kingdom.

Characteristics of the British shorthair Cat

The British shorthair is a big cat—not massive like the Maine Coon or Siberian cat—but some male British shorthairs can weigh as much as 17 pounds (females usually top off at 12 pounds or less). The British shorthair is a wonderful family cat—the breed has an easy-going personality and generally gets along with everyone, including kids and other animals living in the house. They are active without being hyper, tend to be quiet, and can live happily in almost any size house, including apartments. 

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium 
Kid-Friendly   High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to VocalizeLow
Amount of SheddingMedium

History of the British Shorthair Cat

The British shorthair is possibly the oldest cat breed in Great Britain. The most agreed-upon theory of this breed’s development is that British shorthairs started out as shorthaired street cats, but breeders refined and standardized the cats until they resembled the British shorthair we know and love today. British shorthairs were among the breeds exhibited at England’s first organized cat show in 1871. Back then, the breed was called the British Blue, owning to the fact that blue (gray) was very common color in the breed, especially early on.

Although blue British shorthairs are still popular today, they come in many different colors and patterns. The British shorthair was first brought to the United States in the early 1900s, but they were called domestic shorthairs. The British shorthair was formally recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1980. Today, this popular breed can be found throughout the world. 

British Shorthair Cat Care 

As the breed name suggests, the British shorthair has a short coat that needs only minimal grooming. Brush your British shorthair once a week using a soft slicker brush. Brush more frequently during periods of seasonal shedding to remove loose hair before it ends up all over the house.

Trim the nails every other week and check inside the ears weekly. If you see a little debris in the ears, use a pet-ear cleaner and cotton balls to clean the ears using a cotton ball (never use a cotton swab). If your British shorthair’s ears look red or excessively dirty, make an appointment to see your veterinarian.

British Shorthairs are playful well into adulthood, but they are not hyper or excessively active. They can get plenty of exercise by exploring the house and playing with you a few times a day. Engage your British Shorthair with feather wands, toy mice, and any other favorite toys. Make sure your cat has plenty of things to climb and perch upon like cat trees, cat-friendly bookshelves, and kitty condos. Cats can also get exercise and enrichment through scratching. Set up several acceptable scratching places in the house, including vertical scratchers (such as tall posts or cat trees) and horizontal scratchers (such as cardboard or sisal scratchers that lie flat on the ground).

British Shorthair cat
British shorthair kitten
British Shorthair cat

Common Health Problems

British shorthairs are a notably healthy breed that are rarely affected by genetic disease. Among genetic illnesses, they are most prone to heart disease—specifically hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Of course, any can become sick, injured, or develop a health condition. For that reason, it’s important to visit your veterinarian at least once a year for a physical exam to ensure your cat is healthy and to stay on top of any developing health concerns. 

Appearance

The British shorthair is a medium-to-large-sized cat with a compact, well-balanced, and powerful body. Female British shorthairs are slightly smaller than males. One of the hallmarks of the breed is its round head, with round cheeks, a firm chin, medium-sized ears, and large, round eyes. The British shorthair’s coat is short and dense. The British shorthair has a single coat, with no undercoat. Although blue (gray) British shorthairs are common, the breed can some in many different colors and patterns. 

Diet and Nutrition

British shorthairs are solidly built, but it’s best to keep them at a lean, healthy weight in order to prevent weight-related health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease, which can affect any cat but may be compounded by excess weight. Feed your adult British shorthair measured meals twice a day (three times a day for young kittens). Don’t free feed (leave food out all day). This practice can lead to overeating and weight gain. Talk to your veterinarian or the breeder you worked with for advice about the best food for your cat.

Where to Adopt or Buy a British Shorthair Cat

The British shorthair is a somewhat popular cat breed. The Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association both list active British shorthair breeders on their respective websites. 

A fun way to meet British shorthair breeders and see cats of many different breeds is attending a local cat show. Newbies are very welcome at cat shows, and breeders enjoy educating people about their breed. To find a local cat show, search the internet for “cat show near me.” British shorthairs rarely end up in animal shelters, but you can ask local British shorthair breeders if they know of any adult British shorthairs in need of new homes.

Breed Overview

The British shorthair is slow to mature, both physically and mentally. These cats generally don’t achieve their final size and weight until somewhere between 3 and 5 years old. British shorthairs may continue to display kitten-ish energy and playfulness until they reach maturity, but once fully mature, this breed is calm and well behaved.

They are affectionate without being needy and are accepting of strangers, though they may be a bit aloof until they get to know you better. British shorthairs are wonderful companions for gentle and considerate children and tend to get along well with other friendly household pets.

Pros
  • Calm and laidback

  • Affectionate but not needy

  • Gets along well with children and other pets

Cons
  • Short coat sheds moderately

  • Doesn’t love being held or carried

  • Shouldn’t be left alone many hours a day

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you like the British Shorthair cat, you might also like these cat breeds: 

·      American Shorthair

·      Russian Blue

·      Scottish Fold

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