Does this face look familiar? You’ve probably seen a British Shorthair cat in a book or in a movie. These kitties have really made a name for themselves! Though they are fairly rare in the US, they are very popular in the United Kingdom and have been for over 200 years.
Title Photo Credit: kishjar? via Flickr
British Shorthair History
The ancestors of the British Shorthair were bred by the Romans for their strength and ability to kill rodents. As the Roman Empire spread throughout Europe, so did the Roman soldiers and their cats. Eventually, they made their way to the British Isles and were there to stay.
During the Victorian Era, having a cat as a pet became very popular. Harrison Weir, renown for his role in starting London’s cat fancier association, was key in establishing the British Shorthair cat breed. They were shown at the very first cat show in London! However, around the beginning of the 1900’s, shorthaired cats lost much of their popularity to longhaired cats.
As is true with many cat breeds, World War II nearly wiped the British Shorthair cat breed out. British cat breeders made a concentrated effort to save the breed but had to incorporate some other breeds into the bloodline to accomplish this. The breeds they introduced included the Persian cat breed and the Chartreux cat breed. Adding these breeds allowed the longhair gene to enter the bloodline as well as a number of different colors and patterns.
Over the years, this breed has been included in many popular works of art. They are very docile cats that are easy for artists and photographers to work with. Here are just a few examples of where you may have seen them:
- The Cheshire Cat, as illustrated by Sir John Tenniel for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.
- Puss in Boots, from Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault.
- Church, from the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.
- Willow, a cat from 2010’s US Postage stamp collection.
A Big Teddy-Cat
Today the British Shorthair is nicknamed “the body builder” of cats. Its look is very similar to the American Shorthair cat breed (they may have common ancestors because of the European explorers). These medium to large cats are known for their very round features including a round face, round eyes, and rounded ears. Their chubby little cheeks make it appear as if they were smiling.
Most often, the British Shorthair is thought of has having a blue colored coat. Because of the popular blue color, the breed was first known as the British Blue. However, there are actually more than 30 potential combinations of colors and patterns for this breed. Their coat is short, thick, and dense with a warm, velvety feel.
One Popular Kitty
British Shorthair cats are generally very calm and quiet. They are very regal in their demeanor. These kitties have been called the Winston Churchill of cats because of their demeanor.
While these cats are not lap cats and don’t like to be picked up, they are very affectionate. A British Shorthair cat will be shy at first and then fall in love with the entire family rather than just one person. Females are more serious and males are more laid back.
Owners of British Shorthair cats fall in love with their clumsy clown-like antics. They get along well with other animals and with children. Easy grooming and a laid back temperament make these cats a great choice for first-time cat owners.
Happy & Healthy
There are no breed-specific health problems associated with the British Shorthair. However, the diet of these cats should be watched carefully as they love food, but not exercise. These naturally stocky cats gain weight easily and is prone to obesity.
If you are considering adding a British Shorthair kitty to your family, take a look at these adoptable cats on PetFinder!