About British Shorthairs

Brief History

British Shorthairs were first shown in cat shows in England around the 1870’s. This
hearty race was introduced to the British Isles by Roman soldiers nearly 1900 years
earlier. During the intervening centuries, the British Shorthair developed into a strong,
effective hunter, but was also praised as a loyal and stable house-hold companion.
The British Shorthair suffered a near fatal setback during the bombings of World War
II. Cat fanciers resorted to outcrosses to keep the breed alive, and selected the
Persian as the most comparable body type. The Persian influence enhanced the
British Shorthair by giving it a larger head, shorter nose and squarer body. In
England, the breed was commonly referred to as “British Blues”, since the original
blue color was the most popular in the show halls. In 1970 the American Cat Fanciers
Association became the first American registry to accept British Shorthairs, but in
blue and black only. Eventually all other colors were accepted. Although blue remains
the most common, you can now see many of the other beautiful colors of British
Shorthair at the shows.

Characteristics and Personality Profile

It is easy to see why Lewis Carroll chose a British Shorthair to appear as the Cheshire
Cat in Alice in Wonderland, since all British have a permanent smile on their faces.
They bear a remarkable resemblance to a plush stuffed animal. This is largely due to
their lavish coat. The coat of a British Shorthair is
unique and differentiates this breed
from all others. The British coat contains more fur per square inch than any other
breed of cat. It is dense and plush with a crisp velvety texture that you can sink your
fingers into. If kept in a cool environment, the thick short hair will seldom shed. British
are very low maintenance and are also easy to groom since their coats do not tangle.

The British Shorthair is a very healthy, sturdy and strong cat with a square body
shape. Heavily boned and very muscular, British are slow maturing and do not reach
their full size until they are from three to five years of age. Fully grown males average
from 9 to 18 pounds, while females average from 7 to 13 pounds. Looking at a British
Shorthair is a study in circles: a large round head with small rounded ears, round
open eyes, rounded paws and whisker pads, and a thick tail with a rounded tip.

Temperamentally the British Shorthair is a quiet, calm and unobtrusive cat.
Possessing a certain British reserve, these affectionate cats will seek out your
attention without a clinging “in your face” persistence. Although some individual
British may be lap cats, the average Brit will prefer to lay next to you within easy
petting range (they most likely overheat while in your lap due to their thick coat).
Referred to as “four on the floor,” British Shorthairs are not known for climbing the
curtains. The typical hearth cat, British Shorthairs love to lounge. However bring out
the toys and Brits of all ages are transformed into playful kittens again (as C'Anne
says, the favorite toy of a British is the one with a human hand at the other end).

British also have a certain respect for property. Being musicians, my wife and I have a
cello and classical guitars in open stands around the house, which have never been
knocked over or mistaken for scratching posts. Furniture is also safe as long as the
cats are provided with their own posts to scratch on, and they quickly learn what
acceptable behavior is. British become very attached to their human companions and
are very adaptable. They have a wonderful disposition towards children and pets of
all kinds (and all sizes: our British and Great Danes adored each other). British
Shorthair females are very responsible and caring mothers, and prefer the whole
family (including the other British females) to participate in raising the kittens.

Although a relatively rare cat in the United States, the British Shorthair is a delight to
own. Intelligent, affectionate and quite, they are the perfect family pet. For more
information about this wonderful breed, click on these CFA links for the British
profile and standard.

"I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and
vanishing so suddenly; you make one
quite giddy!"

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it
vanished quite slowly, beginning with the
end of the tail, and ending with the grin,
which remained some time after the rest of
it had gone.

"Well !  I've often seen a cat without a grin,"
thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat!  It's
the most curious thing I ever saw in all my

-- Lewis Carroll,
      Alice In Wonderland