Cat Breeds

British Shorthair

Isabel Hartley

The British Shorthair is an iconic cat breed known for its dense and plush coat, which comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Originally bred in the United Kingdom, this breed has a rich history that includes being featured in many cat shows and competitions. With a sturdy build and a calm demeanor, British Shorthairs have become a favorite among cat enthusiasts for their balanced temperament and easy-going nature.

They are medium-to-large cats with powerful and compact bodies, often described as having a teddy bear-like appearance due to their rounded features and expressive eyes.

The coat of the British Shorthair is one of its most distinctive attributes, being short yet very dense, which provides a luxurious feel to the touch.

Affectionate but not overly dependent, British Shorthairs make for great companions who fit well into many different living situations.

Their laid-back attitude and amiable personality towards both children and other pets make them ideal house cats. Even as they cherish a cozy lap, they are also known to be relatively independent, capable of entertaining themselves without demanding constant attention.

Origin and History

The British Shorthair, with its plush coat and sturdy build, traces its ancestry to cats from Rome and has been a distinct breed for well over a century.

Genetic Roots

These cats likely arrived in Britain with the Romans and interbred with local feral cats. Over time, they developed a thick, dense coat as an adaptation to the damp and variable British climate. The result was a hardy, robust cat well-suited to life in the British Isles.

Breed Development

Selective breeding began in the late 1800s to refine the breed into what it is recognized as today. Breeders focused on enhancing specific traits, like the breed’s trademark blue-grey fur, affectionately known as “British Blue.”

The breed standard was stabilized by the efforts of cat enthusiasts, including Harrison Weir, who is often credited with its promotion.

Physical Characteristics

The British Shorthair is renowned for its plush coat, sturdy body, and charming round face. One can immediately recognize them by these distinctive traits.

Coat and Color

The British Shorthair’s coat is relatively low-maintenance, requiring only occasional grooming to keep it in good condition.

Coat Length:

Short to Medium


Dense and Plush

Common Colors:

  • White
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Brown
  • Silver and others

Body Structure

Adult Weight: 8–18 pounds
Height: 11″-14″

Build Characteristics:

  • Muscular: They possess a strong, compact body.
  • Broad Chest: Their chest is wide, giving them a robust stance.
  • Sturdy Legs: Consequently, they have well-built, powerful legs.

Their body is designed for strength rather than speed, showcasing a solid and stocky build that’s distinctive from other breeds.

Facial Features

Head Shape: Rounded
Eyes: Large and Round

Distinctive Characteristics:

  • Cheeks: Full, adding to the roundness of their face.
  • Nose: Short and broad, fitting their rounded head perfectly.

The British Shorthair’s face is often likened to a cuddly teddy bear, due to its soft contours and pleasant disposition.

Personality and Behavior

The British Shorthair is known for its calm demeanor and loving nature. They exhibit a balance of affection and independence that charms cat enthusiasts.


The British Shorthair typically displays a calm and placid temperament. These cats are not overly demanding or hyperactive. They’re tranquility personified, preferring a serene environment to match their composed nature.

Social Traits

British Shorthairs typically enjoy the company of their human families and often form strong bonds with them. They are:

  • Affectionate: Enjoy being close to their family members without being overbearing.
  • Not too clingy: They value their own space and are happy to spend time by themselves.

Activity Level

These cats have a moderate activity level:

  • While kittens are naturally more playful, adult British Shorthairs tend to be more laid-back.
  • They appreciate interactive play sessions but are also content with lounging as their main pastime.

Care and Health

When it comes to the care and health of the British Shorthair, routine grooming, awareness of common health issues, and maintaining proper diet and nutrition are essential for their well-being.

Grooming Needs

The British Shorthair has a short, dense coat that requires regular brushing to minimize shedding and prevent mats. Typically, a weekly brush is sufficient, but during seasonal changes, they may require more frequent grooming.

The use of a good-quality bristle brush can help keep their coat in tip-top shape.

Common Health Issues

These sturdy felines are generally healthy but can be prone to certain health conditions:

  • Heart Conditions: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common heart disease in cats and can affect the British Shorthair.
  • Obesity: They often have a laid-back nature, which can lead to weight gain, so it’s crucial to monitor their food intake.
    Purchasing pet insurance can assist with managing costs related to these health issues.

Diet and Nutrition

British Shorthair cats do not have unique dietary needs, yet they are at risk for obesity, especially as they grow older. They thrive on a diet that’s:

  • High in Protein: Supports muscle mass and overall health.
  • Low in Carbohydrates: Helps prevent unnecessary weight gain.

Cats have varying food preferences and energy needs, so it’s critical to tailor their diet to their lifestyle and age.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section covers commonly asked questions about the British Shorthair cat, such as pricing, behavior, affection levels, adoption, coat care, and breed rarity.

What’s the average price range for a British shorthair cat?

The cost of a British Shorthair can vary widely, typically starting around $300 and going up to $5,000, depending on the breeder, pedigree, and appearance.

What are the common behavior problems in British Shorthair cats?

British Shorthair cats are known for their calm demeanor; however, like any breed, they can exhibit behavior issues such as scratching furniture or aversion to the litter box, often due to stress or environmental factors.

Is the British Shorthair breed known for being affectionate with owners?

They are not overly demanding of attention but are known to be sweet and affectionate, enjoying being near their humans.

How does one find British Shorthair kittens available for adoption?

To adopt a British Shorthair kitten, one can start by checking local shelters, breed-specific rescues, or reputable breeders who may offer adoption of retired show cats or those not suited for breeding.

Are there any specific care requirements for a British shorthair’s coat?

Their dense, plush coat requires regular grooming to remove loose hairs and prevent mats, usually once a week.

What’s the deal with the rarity of the British Shorthair breed?

Although not extremely rare, the breed’s popularity and the fact that they come in many colors can sometimes make finding a specific type of British Shorthair more challenging.