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British Cat Family – Cat Breed Guide

Adopt a British Cat, Cat Breed Guide


The British Cat Family are cats that are typically medium to large in size. Cats under the British Cat Breed Group gives an impression of both sweetness and power.

* The Livre Officiel des Origines Félines considers the British as a distinct breed that has two varieties: the Shorthair and the Longhair.
* All major international feline associations recognize the British Shorthair as a pedigree and not a variety of a particular cat breed.
* Among the feline associations that recognizes the British Shorthair, only the The International Cat Association and the World Cat Federation recognizes the British Longhair as a pedigree. The Southern African Cat Council recognizes the breed’s existence and classifies as a breed with a Preliminary Status


Official Name

British Shorthair and British Longhair

Also called as:
Highland Straight


Both British Shorthair and Longhair cat breeds originate from Great Britain.

The British Shorthair is believed to be an ancient cat breed that can trace its roots to the Roman Empire’s occupation of Britannia. The modern breed was officially established during the 1800’s through the efforts of Mr. Harrison Weir.

The British Longhair comes from the British Shorthair breed. The origin of this Brit breed may be traced back to the time that the Persian cat was introduced to the British Shorthair’s breeding development program between the years 1914 and 1918. The Persian-British SH cross resulted to a longhair gene in the British Shorthair’s lineage. Since then all longhaired cats were added to the foundation stock of the modern Persian breed. Later on, the Persian lineage started producing longhaired cats and shorthaired specimens that are very different than the British Shorthair. This gave way to the birth of the Exotic Shorthair and all longhaired cats from the British lineage were no longer added to the Persian bloodlines. From then on, these cats where recognized as British Longhairs.

Quick FAQs
Size: Both the British Shorthair and British Longhair cats come in sized ranging from Medium to Large.
Coat Type: British Shorthairs have medium-length short coats that are dense and thick.
British Longhairs have silky coats that are semi-long in length.
Body Type: Both the British Shorthair and British Longhair cats have bodies that are semi-cobby in type.
Grooming Requirement: British Shorthair cats require minimal grooming attention. Grooming these cats once a week will be sufficient.
British Longhair cats require a lot of grooming attention as their long coats is prone to matting. These cats should be groomed regularly. Special attention is also required during Autumn and Winter seasons as their long coats thickens in preparation for colder weather conditions. This is the time that their coats are prone to tangling.
Vocal Tendency: Both the British Shorthair and British Longhair cats are known to be very quiet and not as talkative compared to other shorthaired and longhaired cat breeds.
Energy Levels: Both the British Shorthair and British Longhair cats have fairly low activity levels.
Time Alone: Both the British Shorthair and British Longhair cats require about 8 hours of alone time every day.
Care: British Shorthairs does not require a lot of attention, but the British Longhair will need moderate amount of time to be attended to. Both British varieties are very easy to handle.

Recognizes the British Shorthair:
Australian Cat Federation Inc.
Cat Fanciers’ Association
Co-0rdinating Cat Council of Australia
Fédération Internationale Féline
Governing Council of the Cat Fancy
New Zealand Cat Fancy
Southern African Cat Council
The International Cat Association
World Cat Federation
Livre Officiel des Origines Félines
American Cat Fanciers Association
Cat Fanciers Federation
Cat Federation of Southern Africa
Canadian Cat Association
American Association of Cat Enthusiasts
Cat Aficionado Association

Recognizes the British Longhair:
Southern African Cat Council
The International Cat Association
Livre Officiel des Origines Félines
World Cat Federation

The British Shorthair originates in Great Britain and is believed to be the direct descendants of ancient cats that can be traced back to times of the Roman Empire’s expansion in Europe and Britannia. Sometime during the 1800’s, Mr. Harrison Weir spearheaded the establishment of an official recognition of Britain’s domesticated shorthair cats that were commonly seen in street alleys and barns across England, Scotland and Wales. Mr. Weir efforts led to the birth of the modern British Shorthair and turned the once generic street cat of Great Britain to be featured in England’s first every cat show held in London’s Crystal Palace.

The British Longhair was bred from the British Shorthair. In 1914, the British Shorthair breed underwent a four year development program that introduced the Persian cat to its bloodline. The crossed between the British Shorthairs and the Persian cats produced a longhair gene on the British Shorthair lineage. After 1918, short coated cats were classified as British Shorthairs and longhair cats were added to the Persian cat’s breeding development program. During this time, Persian cats were considered the longhaired versions of the British Shorthair breed. By the later part of the 20th century, the breeding development of Persian cats produced shorthaired specimens that are very different from the British Shorthair. A serious breeding program was done and the shorthaired variety of Persians eventually became the Exotic Shorthair breed. Since then, longhaired specimens from the British breeds where no longer added to the Persian breeding stock, and was proposed to be officially “re-introduced” as the British Longhair cat breed.

Before the re-introduction of the British Longhair, two distinct types of the blue coated British Shorthairs emerged, one that is round headed with a compact and sturdy body and the other with a triangular shaped head with a long but elegant body shape. This eventually led to the two types separating. The blue shorthairs with rectangular bodies became the Russian Blue breed.


British Shorthairs are very quite cats that are known to be even-tempered and not that demanding or needy compared to other breeds. These cats are true Brits, displaying the typical British reservation especially towards people and other animals that just met. But this reserve trait is just temporary as these cats are known to become extremely faithful companions to family and even friends. Unlike other cat breeds that tend to bond with one person in its family, the British Shorthair will be loyal and devoted to every member of its human family. Overall, this breed is independent, very sweet and affectionate and will always display its low profile disposition.

British Longhairs are genial cats that will display its friendliness and very affectionate disposition. They love attention but will not be demanding. Like British people, these cats are known to behave according to gender. Male British Longhairs are happy-go-lucky and often commands respect but will not be snobbish and will welcome everyone who gives them attention. Female British Longhairs stay true to what is expected with the traditional British lady, prim and proper to people and animals they interact with. Overall, both breed are intelligent cats that will be quiet and calm, tolerant with children and other dogs, dignified and patient.

Both British Shorthair and British Longhair cats are medium to large sized domesticated felines that have powerful and very sturdy semi-cobby bodies. Both Brit cat breeds give an impression of a well-balanced cat that will display power as well as a sweet demeanor.

British Shorthair and British Longhair cats are well-balanced and powerful felines with compact bodies. They share very similar physical traits except for the coat length and texture.
British Shorthair and British Longhair cats have semi-cobby type bodies that are powerful, well knit and ranges from medium to large in size. These cats have a prominent chest that is deep and broad in appearance.
Head, Ears and Eyes
British Shorthair and British Longhair cats have massive round heads that are set on their thick and short neck. These cats have medium sized set of ears that are broad at the base and with rounded tips. Their ears are set far from each other but fitting perfectly into the rounded contours of their big round heads. The eyes of these cats are large and round in shape. Eye colors will depend on the color of the cat’s coat.
Coat and Tail
British Shorthair and British Longhair cats have tails that are medium in length with a thick base tapering to a tip that is rounded.
British Shorthairs have coats that are short and firm but very dense and thick with a resilient, crisp, firm and plush texture. These cats have straight fur that looks very much like a woolen carpet. There is a thick undercoat that appears to offer natural protection from the elements.
British Longhair cats have coats that is semi-long, straight and silky coats that have a fluff-plush texture with a thick or well-bodied undercoat. These cats have a well furnished ruff and britches.
Both British Shorthair and Longhair cats comes in any color or pattern except for lavender, the Himalayan pattern, or these combinations with white.
British Shorthairs are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hip dysplasia, with the males being more at high risk to acquire these medical conditions. It may develop polycystic kidney disease which the breed inherited from the Persian lines. Although flat-chested kitten syndrome is not common to the breed, it does occur on rare occasions.
British Longhairs are very prone to obesity if they are kept as indoor cats and not given ample time to stretch outdoors. Cats that are neutered will be more prone to have weight problems.