British Shorthair cat breed: one of the oldest breeds and the perfect companion for many

László Enikő

2022. March 13 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The British Shorthair is a friendly and highly intelligent companion who generally gets on well with everyone. He is tolerant of other pets and, although he is not always available for cuddles, he is happy to show his affection.


Compared to most short-haired breeds the British shorthair relatively calm cat. He is easy-going and rarely makes his voice heard. He is very affectionate to all the members of the family. The British Shorthair is easy to train and very adaptable. Regardless of age, he gets on well with all members of the household, but generally doesn’t like to be carried or babied.


Probably the oldest English cat breed, tracing its origins back to Roman domestic cats. The breed was first favoured for its physical strength and hunting ability, initially used to catch rodents. These cats then interbred with the European feral cat population. Over the centuries, they have naturally evolved from their isolated descendants into characteristically large, robust, short, but very thick-coated cats to better withstand the conditions of their habitat. Based on artists’ depictions of the modern British Shorthair unchanged from the original type.

In the Victorian era, with the rise of the cat shows, cat lovers began to breed cats to a certain standard and started to keep pedigrees. At the earliest cat shows, British Shorthairs were the only cats registered. All others were simply described by type or colour of coat.

Later, however the spread of long-haired cats the popularity of the British Shorthair declined. The two world wars reduced the breed’s population considerably and few British Shorthairs remained after the Second World War. Other breeds have been used to revive the British Shorthair.

The American Cat Association recognised the British Shorthair in 1967, but the Cat Fanciers Association did not until 1980. It is now recognised by all cat associations and is one of the most popular breeds worldwide.

Breed standard

The British Shorthair is a compact, well-balanced cat with a powerful build. Its trunk is long, muscular and strong. The neck is short and thick. Chest broad, legs short, moderately strong. Paws are round, graceful. The tail is moderately long, the base thick, the tip rounded. It has a round head and a relatively large distance between its ears. The feet are moderately large, with rounded ends. Eyes are round, large, typically wide open. The nose is medium wide. The coat is short and very dense. Colours can be solid: black, white, blue, cream, silver, red. But they can be two-coloured, such as tortoiseshell, blue and white, black and white, red and white, and variations of these. The most common is the bluish silvery colour, but thirty different colour variations and patterns can occur. It weighs about 4-8 kg. In general, the sexes are easily distinguishable from each other, as males are typically larger. Life expectancy is 14-17 years.


The breed is typically balanced, friendly and calm. Gentle and easy-going nature, making it an excellent family pet. He enjoys affection, but he is not a demanding cat. He likes to follow his owner around the house during the day, and will lie down on the nearest point to him to keep an eye on him. She is a quiet and pleasant companion who prefers to relax on the couch rather than be babied. A cat with medium activity. Energetic as a kitten, but usually calms down by the age of 1 year. It reaches full maturity at the age of 3-5 years. The adult British Shorthair usually prefers to rest on the sofa during the day and is less playful. Confident with strangers, not shy.

Ideal environment

The British Shorthair adapts easily to different life situations and changes. It typically gets on well with other pets. He is an ideal show cat, as he does not seem to be bothered by bustle and noise, but he is a very quiet companion. This cat is less likely to damage furniture for claw sharpening, but of course it also needs a scratching post.

This well-balanced kitty is perfect for families with children and cat-friendly dogs and families. He likes the attention he gets from children, who treat him with courtesy and respect, and he is lenient with clumsy toddlers.


The coat should be thoroughly combed at least once a week, and every two days during the shedding season. Bathing is only necessary if it is dirty. The too long claws must be cut and always pay attention to the cleanliness of its ears and eyes. As it is not a particularly active breed, it can be prone to obesity and should not be fed too much.

Common health problems

A British Shorthair purchased from a good breeding stock is typically free of health problems. Sometimes, however may develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and haemophilia B. HCM is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and haemophilia B is a blood clotting disorder often diagnosed at a young age.

(Literature used: János Szinák – István Veress: Macskakalauz, Jean-Luc Renck: A macska, The Complete Cat Breed Book)

British Shorthair cat breeds short-haired cat

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