Breed Description

British Shorthairs have very dense, plush coats that are often described as crisp or cracking which refers to the way the coat breaks over the cat's body contours. Eyes are large, round and copper in colour. Domesticated Shorthairs have round heads with full, chubby cheeks. Most have a body that is rounded and sturdy. British Shorthairs are large and muscular, and are described as having a "cobby" build. The breed has a broad chest, shoulders and hips with short legs, round paws and a plush but not fluffy tail. British Shorthairs that do not fit this breed standard are usually rendered unshowable in cat shows.
The males of this breed are larger than the females, and the size difference between them is more easily noticed compared to other breeds. The adult males may also develop prominent cheek jowls that distinguish them from their female counterparts.


The British Shorthair may be any colour or pattern including all solid colours, dilutes, tabby patterns, bicolour and colourpoints. For many years the more popular blue variant was common enough to have a breed name of its own: the 'British Blue'. However now a large variety of other colour and pattern variations appear and are accepted in most breed registry standards. Newer colours include the British Chocolate (Brown), the British Cream (Pale Orange), The British Colourpoint (Colourpoint), the British Tipped (White/Silver) and the very new British Lilac, which although grey, is unlike the British Blue. A development in the past 10 years, the British Lilac is described as having a "pink-grey coat."
The typical lifespan of this breed is 9 to 15 years.


One claim of the British Shorthair's origin is that it was bred for the first time in the 19th century in an attempt to create a beautiful cat out of an alley cat and a domestic cat. The result was a British Shorthair named "Brite", which was presented to the public in 1871 with widespread approval. Almost all British Shorthairs disappeared in the 1940's, but programs started up the breed’s popularity once again.
F. M. Rowley presents another claim in her book "British Shorthair Cat" which traces British Shorthair ancestral stock directly back to the domestic cats taken from Egypt to Rome, and later to Britain. Most likely, the ancestors of modern British Shorthair cats arrived to Britain after the 2nd century AD when the Roman Empire spread to Britain.


The British Shorthair is an easygoing breed. It has a stable character and can easily live in an apartment setting. It is not terribly demanding of attention, although it will make its desire for play known if its owner looks available. It is not normally destructive or hyperactive, although it can be playful.
It has become a favourite of animal trainers because of its nature and intelligence, and in recent years these cats have appeared in Hollywood films and television commercials.


The British Shorthair does not require a lot of grooming because the fur does not tangle or mat easily. However, it is recommended that the coat be brushed now and again, especially during seasonal shedding.