The British Shorthair: a recognisable best friendDennis Steenbakkers
This gentle cat breed is known for its soft appearance, blue-grey coat and bright orange eyes. Today however, this teddy bear can be found in a wide variety of patterns and colours. British Shorthairs generally have unique personal characteristics that make this beautiful cat breed stand out from other breeds, but of course, each cat has its own behavioural pattern. Read on if you want to know more about this lovely cat breed or look at cat trees for British Shorthairs!
You can’t make it up, but the British Shorthair obviously comes from Great Britain. However, the ancestors of this breed were probably brought to England by the Romans. There, these natural hunters helped the Romans to keep vermin away from their camps.
In the 19th century, as cat breeding became increasingly popular in the UK, the British Shorthair (then the British Blue), entered the very first organised cat show in Britain. The Bsh, owned by the enthusiastic Harrison Weir, won the award for best show cat.
Due to food shortages during the Second World War, many breeders had difficulty feeding their litters and the breed almost came to an end. After the war, the British Blue was crossed with Russian Blues, Persians and domestic cats to keep the breed alive. In 1967 the breed was officially recognised by the American Cat Association and in 1979 by the International Cat Association.
The British Shorthair is generally a robust, muscular medium to large cat. Not as big as a Maine Coon, but almost as heavy. Thanks to their muscular build, males can weigh up to 7 kilograms. Females are slightly smaller, weighing up to about 5 kilograms.
The coat of the Briton is, as the name suggests, short. Because of the short, thick coat this cat feels super soft. They do not say for nothing that this cat is “the Teddy bear among the cat breeds”. Thanks to the relatively short ears, round snout and large characteristic eyes, it is hard not to cuddle this bear.
Colours and patterns
Although the ‘British Blue’ originally had a blue-grey coat, the breed can now be found in a lot of different colours and patterns. However, the combination of grey coat and orange eyes is the most common variant.
– Full Colour: British Shorthairs come in a wide variety of solid colours. Grey or blue is the most common colour because this was the original colour of the breed. Nowadays they can also be found in the colours lilac, chocolate, cinnamon cream, black, red and white.
– Eyes: This cat breed has a deep yellow/orange to copper eye colour. White variants often have blue eyes. Some Britons even have two different eye colours!
– Tortie: Also called tortoiseshell cats, these cats have two different colours spread all over the coat. The most common combinations are black and red, blue and cream, chocolate and red, cinnamon and red, and lilac and cream.
– Tabby: Tabby British Shorthairs also come in a rainbow of colours. Often these cats can be recognised by some patterns in their coat. Especially an M-like shape and rings at the end of the tail are common in tabby cats.
– Color Points: These cats are easily recognized because of a concentrated amount of colour in certain areas, such as the muzzle and the tips of the paws.
Britons are generally a less active cat breed. Although this breed is more likely to nap on the floor rather than on top of the fridge, they can also go on a rampage. Thanks to their muscular bodies, this athlete is capable of bursts of energy. Only to end up on your lap again. These cats are often calm and quiet, but they do love to play with their owners. The British Shorthair can entertain itself well when no one is at home, but demands a big cuddle and active playtime every day.
These Rebels are not the most difficult, and often get along well with other cats, dogs and family members. Especially if they are well socialised from an early age. If you socialise them well with other people as a kitten, this sweet cat will quickly get used to company.
It is a lot of fun to drag this cat everywhere you go, but in general these cats don’t like to be picked up and held all day long, like Ragdolls for example. A British Shorthair is sweet and social, without being overly affectionate.
Thanks to its short, dense coat, these cats do not need to be brushed as often as long-haired breeds such as Norwegian Forest Cats and British Longhairs. Brushing once a week with a soft ‘slicker brush’ is enough to remove dead hairs and to spread the natural oil of the coat. This cat is shedding in the spring and autumn, so it needs to be brushed more often at that time. Furthermore, this breed needs the same kind of care as most cats. Check your cat’s ears, eyes and paws regularly for infections or inflammations. Make sure your cat has a clean litter box (or several) with good cat litter, and make sure your cat gets clean water every day.
Because this cat has a very ’round’ appearance, it easily appears overweight. Pay attention to what you feed the Bsh and dispense the food accurately. This will help prevent an underweight or overweight cat. It won’t hurt to have this teddy bear weighed from time to time, as with any other cat.
Diseases and disorders
Cats, like people, can have hereditary diseases. Always get your British Shorthair from a licensed breeder (or shelter). A health guarantee from the shelter or breeder is a must, as well as that the parents of the kittens are healthy.
But don’t worry, the British Shorthair is a relatively healthy breed. They live to be 13 years old on average, but some lucky ones even live to be 20. But like any cat breed, there are things to watch out for. These cats often suffer from heart diseases when they get older. HCM is the most common. This causes the muscles of the heart to thicken, which can have various serious consequences. Do not adopt kittens whose parents have not been tested for this disease.
It is very nice to pamper your cat, but do not make it overweight. A healthy diet, enough interaction and a yearly check up at the vet is the absolute minimum to keep an average cat healthy. It is very important to educate yourself before adopting a new family member.
British Shorthair – Trivia
1. Shrek’s Puss in Boots is considered by many to be a British Shorthair, despite his Spanish accent.
2. Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, illustrated the famous purple cat ‘The Cheshire Katze’ after seeing a British Shorthair.
3. The famous Cheezburger Cat is a British Shorthair (disclaimer: don’t feed your cat cheeseburgers 😉 ).
4. The loudest purr in the world came from a British Shorthair named Smokey in 2011. At 67.7 decibels, this loud cat spun as loud as a lawnmower. This record was closely broken in 2015 by another cat with 0.1 decibels.
Disclaimer: Petrebels is not a veterinarian or behavioural expert: all content, information and tips on this blog are intended to inspire you and are informative in nature. Does your cat have complaints or problems and do you have doubts about its health? If so, always go to the vet or a behaviorist.