Pet Advisor Blog

British Shorthair – Cat Breed Guide

Adopt a British Shorthair, Cat Breed Guide


The British Short Hair is a domesticated cat breed that is medium to large in size that gives an impression of both sweetness and power. It is famous worldwide for being depicted in Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice in Wonderland as the enigmatic and perpetually grinning Cheshire Cat. But the British Shorthair is popular around the world primarily due to its chubby profile. These cats have chipmunk-like cheeks that always offer a happy smile and a teddy bear-like body covered in a plush coat.

Official Name

British Shorthair
The British Shorthair has also been called as the Brit, Highlander, Highland Straight and Britannica in various places of within Great Britain.


The British Shorthair is considered to be an ancient cat breed and the one of the oldest domesticated feline breeds from England. This breed can trace it origins as far back as the times when ancient Roman Empire conquered Britannia. The modern British Shorthair breed was officially established during the 1800’s through the efforts of Mr. Harrison Weir.

Quick FAQs
Size: British Shorthair cats come in sized ranging from Medium to Large.
Coat Type: British Shorthairs have medium-length short coats that are dense and thick.
Body Type: British Shorthairs 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.
Vocal Tendency: British Shorthairs are known to be very quiet and not as talkative compared to other shorthaired and longhaired cat breeds.
Energy Levels: British Shorthairs have fairly low activity levels.
Time Alone: British Shorthair cats require about 8 hours of alone time every day.
Care: British Shorthairs does not require a lot of attention and will be easy to handle.

Recognized by:
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

The British Shorthair originates in Great Britain and is believed to be the direct descendants of the ancient cats that were brought by Romans from Egypt during the time of the Roman Empire’s expansion in Europe and the British Isles. These cats were originally bred and kept as hunters and protectors of farms, barns and city shops against mice.

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 breed’s popularity declined at the turn of century with the rise in popularity of cats that are considered as longhaired exotic types. Due to the longhair’s popularity, cat breeders crossed the British Shorthair with the Persian cat to produce a longhair gene in the Brit’s bloodlines. This breeding development happened between 1914 and 1919. After the program, all shorthair cats were recognized as British Shorthairs and the longhaired specimens where added to the Persian cat’s foundation stock.

During this time two distinct types of blue coated British Shorthairs emerged. The first type stayed true to the traditional round headed and compact but sturdy body type standard. The second type displayed a head that is triangular in shape and a body that is long but elegantly shaped. These types eventually separated into two distinct breed, the original British Shorthair cat and the new Russian Blue cat breed.

By the 1920’s, the Persian cat’s breeding development started producing shorthair cats that cannot be recognized as British Shorthairs as it was very different in appearance. This gave way to the birth of the Exotic Shorthair breed and the stopped British-type longhaired cats from being added to the Persian breed’s development stock. An initiative to have the longhaired British cats recognized as the longhaired version of the British Shorthair was seen and eventually led to the establishment of the British Longhair as a distinct breed.

With the advent of the Russian Blue and popularity of the longhaired exotics, the British Shorthair saw a decline in popularity. Efforts to repopulate the breed and revitalize their popularity were done during the years before World War II. After the devastating war, the British Shorthair was nearly decimated. The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of the United Kingdom granted permission to preserve and revitalize the breed to dedicated British breeders. The grant allowed British Shorthairs to interbreed with other feline breeds including the Persian cat, Chartreux cats and other shorthair cat breeds. The revival efforts produced the modern British Shorthair.

By the 1960’s, the breed finally gained the attention of American cat breeders. It gained popularity all across Canada and the United States. By the 1970’s, the American Cat Fanciers Association recognized the British Shorthair but named it as the British Blue. This name is now obsolete but was used due to the prevalent blue coat color of the British Shorthair. Since then, all North American feline associations recognized and accepted the British Shorthair as a pedigree.


The modern British Shorthair cat breed is famous worldwide for its teddy bear like body that is commonly covered in plush blue coat and its perpetually happy smile that inspired the Cheshire Cat in the classic Alice in Wonderland. This breed is exactly like a teddy bear, a loyal and devoted companion that will enjoy snoozing in comfort around its human family. They are also genuinely happy cats, displaying an even-tempered and sweet disposition will be accommodating to every member of its human family. British Shorthairs have been depicted as the cat world’s Winston Churchill for its tendency to roam all over the house, appearing like it is surveying his dominion. Overall, these are intelligent cats that will be quiet and calm, tolerant with children and other dogs, dignified and patient.

British Shorthair cats are medium to large sized domesticated felines that have powerful and very sturdy semi-cobby bodies. This cat breed gives an impression of a well-balanced cat that will display power as well as a sweet demeanor.
British Shorthair cats are well-balanced and powerful felines with compact bodies.
British Shorthair 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 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 cats have tails that are medium in length with a thick base tapering to a tip that is rounded. These cats have coats that are short and firm but very dense and thick with a resilient, crisp, firm and plush texture. The fur is straight looking very much like a woolen carpet. There is a thick undercoat that appears to offer natural protection from the elements.
British Shorthair 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.