Origin: Great Britain
Size: Medium to Large
Coat Length: Medium hair
Body Type: Semi-cobby
Appearance: British Shorthairs are medium to large-sized cats with a well-built body. Males weigh between 5 to 8kg and females from 3 to 6kg. It can take from three to four years for your Shorthair to reach full adult size. Shorthairs have a dense single coat. Although there are many colours developed, the most popular is a solid blue-grey with copper eyes. British Shorthairs have a large head, medium-sized ears and the eye colour is usually linked to the coat colour.
Grooming Requirement: Once a week
Activity Level: Fairly low
Affection: Moderately affectionate.
Time Alone: 8 hours a day
Attention: Doesn’t need a lot of attention.
Temperament: The British Shorthair is a kind and eventempered pet who will tolerate more time at home alone than many breeds, without feeling the need to punish you with destructive or messy behaviour. When you are home, British Shorhairs are devoted and will most likely follow you everywhere around the house. However this doesn’t mean that they are clingy. They even prefer to lay somewhere near you rather than sit in your lap.
Interesting Facts: The British Shorthair is actually one of the most ancient breeds and it probably originates from Egyptian domestic cats.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Kids: Like most cats, British Shorthairs are kind family loving animals. You should be able to introduce them to a home where you already have a dog or other pets without problems. However you should still be gentle and cautious when you introduce new animals to each other. If you have younger children, teach them how to behave properly with their new pet.
Common Health Problems: British Shorthairs are generally healthy cats with a long life expectancy but some of the issues that may occur are hypertropic cardiomyopathy and polycystic kidney disease. Obesity can become a serious problem too, especially in the cat’s later years.
Lifespan: Average 12 to 17 years.
One of the oldest traceable breeds, today’s British Shorthair is descendant from Egyptian domestic cats brought to England by the Roman invaders in the 1st century. These cats interbred with alley and barn cats and were used for vermin control by the Anglo-Saxons, working their way into cat fanciers’ hearts. Based on artistic depictions, the Brit has changed little in the course of its development. Selective breeding began in the 1800s and the British Black was one of the earliest varieties to be bred selectively. Some theories suggest that “the father of the cat fancy” Harrison Weir himself created the breed, while others attribute the selective breeding of the Brit to a group of cat lovers who set about developing the best examples of these working cats into a pedigree breed, originally called the British Blue, because of the cat’s steel gray coat. The British Shorthair was one of the first shorthairs to be shown at the first English cat show held at Crystal Palace, London, in 1871.
After an initial dominance of the shorthaired cats at early cat shows, the longhaired breeds were beginning to be more and more favoured by 1896, leading to a decline in the numbers of shorthairs. In 1901, the Short-haired Cat Society was formed, promoting the British Shorthair among other breeds. As the breed developed, it was out-crossed to the Persian between 1914 and 1918, introducing the longhair gene. Cats with short coats were part of the British Shorthair and cats with longhair went into the Persian breeding programs.
Following WWI, the breeding stock was reduced as the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) deemed only 3rd generation offspring of Persian/British Shorthair as eligible to be shown. With the advent of WWII, the British Shorthair gene pool was significantly depleted and in attempts to save the breed, breeders crossed their cats with blue Persians, Blue Russian, and Chartreux. The Brit was granted championship status by TICA in June 1979 and a championship status in 2009.
The British Shorthair is one particular breed that must be fed carefully, given its predisposition to obesity, which can shorten their lifespan. The breed is not especially active, spending much of its time relaxing rather than engaging in physical activity, so it does not get the opportunity to burn calories. Initiate interactive play to get your Brit to do some exercise and keep in good shape. Feed controlled portions of a high-quality dry food once or twice a day and switch to a low-calorie diet if you need to control the weight. Consult your veterinarian for the proper amount of protein and carbohydrates, considering growth stages.
The breed is generally a sturdy and long-lived one, without too many problems. A gene test will help determine whether the cat has a chance of being affected by polycystic kidney disease. It is important to have your Shorthair’s blood type tested by a veterinarian as the breed is known to possess the rare B blood type, which can cause complications if surgery is ever required. Your veterinarian has to make a note of it in their records to prevent any future complications.
To keep this teddy-bear-like sweet feline looking its best, brush twice a week with a wide toothed hair brush and after that a narrow one. You can also use your hands for regular grooming – wet them and massage the cat from head to tail, checking for loss of hair, rashes, or any other kind of skin problem. More frequent brushing may be required during spring, when Brits shed their plush coat, preparing for new growth. A bath can be given once a month, using only specialised pet products and paying close attention to the eyes, nose and ears areas. Let the dense coat dry completely before brushing or combing. Use a cotton bud soaked in warm water or a gentle cleaning solution to clean the eyes and ears and if you notice excessive scratching of the ears, consult a veterinarian, as this may be the sign of ear mites.
The independent, calm, and intelligent Brit respects the privacy of people and other animals. Not vocal or lap cats, they would rather do everything on their own. They may not sit on your lap or ask to be petted, but would follow you around, the way a dog would. Despite their robust muscular built, Brits would never expend their energy in the form of aggression or destructive behaviour. They are perfectly suited for flat living and won’t be seen climbing or jumping high. Provide them with their own indoor adventure zone filled with toys and scratching posts to prevent boredom.