The British Shorthair Cat Breed (A Complete Guide)

A grey British Shorthair cat laying down with his arms infront

The beautiful British Shorthair cat is one of the large cat breed described as cobby or chunky. Many of its contours are rounded – face and cheeks, ears, eyes, and head.

Its short and broad nose sits above a deep, strong chin, and along with a deep chest and short, thick tail, all convey a strong and sturdy cat. The coat is short and dense without being fluffy and comes in over 100 colour and coat pattern combinations.

British Shorthair Cat Coat Characteristics:

Coat Length:

Short or Medium

Coat Type:


Coat Colours:

Blue cream

Coat Pattern:

  • Solid colour
  • Tortoiseshell
  • Bicolor
  • Tricolour/Calico
  • Tabby
  • Smoke
  • Shaded

Weight range:

Male: less than 13 lbs.
Female: less than 11 lbs.

Eye colour:

  • Blue
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Odd-eyed

Life Span:

13 to 16 years


23 to 25.5 inches, not including the tail

Origin Country:

Great Britain

The tendency to Shed:


Overall, Grooming Needs:

Little to moderate

Cat Association Recognition:


[icon name=”info-circle” prefix=”fas fa-2x”] You may also be interested in our article on The Peterbald Cat Breed

Origin Of The British Shorthair Cat Breed:

The British Shorthair cat is the most popular breed of cat in the United Kingdom. Although there is only a written record of the British shorthair cat dating back to the start of the century, in reality, this breed has been existing for hundreds of years.

The best colour and coat patterns available today are the result of excessive selective breeding of the best street cats during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries and continuing to breed carefully until now.

The History of The British Shorthair Cat:

The British shorthair cat belongs to the United Kingdom in the same way that the American shorthair belongs to the United States. They were exported in large numbers of countries in the whole world due to their popularity.

However, as affectionately, the ancestor of British shorthair, commonly known as Brit, is probably the oldest natural breed of Great Britain and has circulated in Britain for centuries before his cousin’s journeyed to the New World.

In many ways, the struggle to recognize the British shorthair is similar to the American shorthair recognition in North America. Both started as working cats and have not been praised or announced as a vast cat breed for many years.

When Did The British Shorthair Cat Arrive In Britain?

The British shorthair began with an ordinary street cat, once called the European short hair. This breed, whose appearance you will see today, is different from its ancestor, i.e., Brits, came to Britain about 2,000 years ago, thanks to the Roman Empire.

When they conquered and colonized other lands, they brought Roman cats to protect their homes from rats. These cats were obtained from the Egyptians, who were very close to their felines. Eventually, however, Phoenician caravans took them on trade routes, and the Roman army smuggled them out of Egypt and took them to the faraway lands.

Although the Phoenicians first introduced these cats to England, Romans were mostly responsible for their broader establishment invading the British Isles. Eventually, the Romans were driven out of the islands, but the cats they brought with them remained.

A grey British Shorthair cat walking

How Has The British Shorthair Cat Changed Over The Years

The cats left by Romans at that time didn’t look like today’s British short hair. Having long and beautiful bones, these cats were pale grey or sandy brown, with a ticked coat like Abyssinian and marks on the face, legs, and tail. They may have been members or closely related to the African wild cat, Felis silvestris lybica, the known ancestor of almost all domestic cats.

However, after arriving in Europe, they mingled with the European wild cat, Felis silvestris silvestris, a subspecies of the native wild cat that inhabits most of Europe. This has led to a change in both coat and body style of the European Wild Cat. These changes are usually a broad head, short comprehensive ears, a robust and muscular body, and short thick fur.

In some European wild cats, mackerel tabby is a typical pattern. This unique pattern is found in many breeds today, proving that mixed-breed cats may have originated from European feral cats.

Due to the cold and wet conditions, cats in Europe developed climate-friendly, muscular body styles and dense and water-repelling body coats.

Two well-known scientists named Maggio-Price L and Dodds WJ conduct a genetic analysis on British Short Hair Cat. They found that Factor IX deficiency (haemophilia B) is present in the whole family of British shorthair cats.

How Did The British Shorthair Cat Evolve Over The Years?

For hundreds of years, these cats have found a home in Britain’s barns, alleys, streets, gardens, and houses. They protect food and household items from rats. From these working cats, the British Shorthair evolved. In the 1800s, residents start to admire these tough street cats for their strength, beauty, personality, and value as companions.

First, the Blue British Shorthair, also known as the “Short Hairs,” gains popularity then as time passes, these British Shorthair make their way into people’s hearts as a beloved pet. World War II’s chaos destroyed Blue British Shorthair and many other European species of cats. After the war, efforts were made to protect the British shorthair breed. It took many generations to regain it to its former glory. And now, due to those efforts, these British Shorthair have prevailed in the whole world.

The History Of The British Shorthair Cat Breed Colours

The Americans took very little notice of the British shorthair until the 1960s. In the 1970s, the ACFA recognized the breed for the championship in only one colour, i.e., solid blue, and now under the obsolete name “British Blue.”

The colour blue was standard in the US and UK and still is. The breed gradually gained support, and between 1970 and 1980, British shorthairs were officially recognized in all sorts of colours. Today, there is a massive following of the British shorthair. In Europe and Australia, there are also many fans of this breed.

A grey British Shorthair cat laying down facing forwards

Caring For A British Shorthair Cat:


The short, smooth British shorthair coat is easy to groom with weekly brushing or combing to remove dead hair knots. Bathing is rarely necessary.


Brush their teeth to avoid periodontal disease. Daily dental cleaning is best, but weekly brushing is better. Trim their nails weekly. Wipe the eye corners with a soft, damp cloth to remove any eye discharge.

Eye Care:

Use a different cloth/fabric for each eye, so you don’t risk getting any infection.


Check their ears weekly.

If they look dirty, clean them with a cotton ball or a soft damp cloth soaked in a 50-50 mixture of warm water and cider vinegar. Avoid using cotton swabs because they may damage the inner ear.

Litter Box:

Keep the litter box clean and spotless. Cats are curious about bathroom hygiene.

Indoor Vs Outdoor:

It is a good idea to keep the British short hair only as an indoor cat so that it can not be exposed to cat-borne diseases, dog or coyote attacks, and other hazards that cats face when exposed to an open outdoor environment.

Outdoor British shorthairs are also at risk of being stolen by someone who wants to get such a beautiful cat without paying the price.

A grey British shorthair cat with a red harness on outside

British Shorthair Cat Physical Attributes:


The head is massive and round. A round face with a round thick bone structure is well set on a small thick neck. The forehead is often rounded with a small flat plane above the head.

The nose is medium and wide. In the profile, there is a soft dip. Chin is healthy and in line with the nose and upper lip. This muzzle is straightforward and distinctive, well-built with a specific stop in front of the large, round whisker pads.


Medium to the large body, which is well-made, strong, and robust. British Shorthairs have a levelled body, and a deep, and broad chest.


Eyes are large, round, and well opened. Widely separated and level. Eye colour depends on the colour of the coat.


Medium ears, which are wide at the base and round at the tip. Separate as much as possible to fit in a rounded contour of the head.


The length of the tail is medium to body proportions and thicker at the base. The tail is slightly tapering to form the rounded tip.

Legs and Paws:

The legs are usually short to medium, well-boned, and firm at their place. Legs are also in proportion to the body. Forelegs are straight. Paws are round and firm. Five toes are present in the forelegs

Tip: British Shorthairs do not reach full physical maturity until she is 3.5 to 4.5 years old


Every cat is unique, and each has its likes, dislikes, and needs when it comes to food. However, cats are carnivores, and each cat should get 40-42 different and specific nutrients from their diet.

The proportion of these nutrients will differ depending on lifestyle, age, and overall health, so it is not surprising that a growing, active kitten will have different nutrients in its diet than a less nutritious elderly cat. After consulting your vet, give them wet or dry food recipes and feed them adequate amounts of food to maintain their ‘ideal physical condition.’


One of the reasons the British shorthair cat became so popular in the last century was that it required little to moderate Grooming. The coat is robust, short, and thick, and the cat can quickly take care of it. As with all cats, regular vaccinations and parasite control are recommended.

Health Issues

Both purebred cats and mixed-breed cats have a variety of health problems that may also be genetic. Most cases seen in British shorthair are gingivitis and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Along with these following health conditions are serious for British Shorthair cats:


Hyperthyroidism is one of several hormonal disorders that can affect British Shorthairs. It usually occurs when the thyroid glands, located in the neck, produce too much thyroid hormone.

This most commonly occurs due to a benign (non-cancerous) tumour of the thyroid gland, although a cancerous tumour is known as a thyroid adenocarcinoma may also occur.

Surgery, along with radioactive iodine therapy, long-term medication, or diet changes, can be used to effectively manage this fatal condition, meaning the cat can live everyday and comfortable life after the proper treatment.

Heart disease

Heart disease in British Shorthairs cats refers to when the heart’s structures aren’t working as they should be. There are two heart disease categories:

  • Congenital (the cat is born with it)
  • Acquired (disease develops later in life).

Hereditary or Congenital heart diseases include defects in the heart’s wall, blood vessels, and abnormal valves. British Shorthairs are incredibly prone to a common condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, leading to heart failure. While this ailment is not curable, a qualified vet can treat it with lifelong medication.

Kidney disease

British Shorthair Cat’s kidneys are responsible for regulating and filtering the waste products from their blood into their urine. British Short Hair may be affected by kidney disease caused by blockages, tumours, infections, or toxins (especially licking anti-freeze) as well as age-related changes.

Fatal and chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidney function deteriorates slowly over some time.

Treatment usually depends on the cause and the extent of the damage but typically begins by flushing the kidneys using intravenous (I/V) fluids, followed by special diets and medications.

Unfortunately, kidney disease is irreversible, but many cats can enjoy reasonably everyday life with the right support.

British shorthair is also prone to cyst infection. Recently veterinarians have removed bacterial cyst with successful treatment from Polycystic kidney disease in four British shorthair cats which supports our above narrative that these cats are genetically prone to kidney cysts.


Conditions that affect a British Shorthair cat’s urethra and bladder are collectively known as FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), generally known as cystitis. British Shorthairs can suffer from these conditions, caused by not urinating enough, stress, bladder stones, infections, or crystals.

Cats suffering from cystitis make painful, frequent urination attempts, and blood is usually found in the urine. Treatment of cystitis depends on the cause and affected organ, but cats diagnosed with cystitis will usually require special diets, access to plenty of water, pain relief, and perhaps some help to reduce stress.

ream and white British shorthair cat laying down

Living with A British Shorthair Cat:

Weight Management:

The British Shorthair is a fat, muscular cat, so British Shorthair owners should carefully control its nutrition. Despite his vast bonuses and muscle, you want to make sure he maintains a proper weight and is not out of shape.


They must get adequate exercise daily for their growth and health. Interactive play may be essential to keep the breed in good condition.

The British Shorthair play when she wants to play and find a toy or create one from anything when she doesn’t have a cat toy available.


It is essential to brush British Shorthair daily, especially during seasonal changes when the coat is thinning or thickening. If it is not cleaned or brushed regularly, small knots start to form in its fur, leading to other serious consequences.

Leaving Along:

The British Shorthair can tolerate when left alone. She loves their pet parents but also sleeps in the sun alone. British Shorthair is comfortable to take care of and a perfect, calm companion.

The British Shorthair cat is a good option for working professionals who are not home all day. With that said you must provide enough; food, water, and entertainment to keep them occupied whilst you are away.

British Shorthair Cat Personality

If you are looking for a cat that swings dizzily from your chandeliers or robs your refrigerator, then British Shorthair is not the right choice for you.

Some say that British shorthair is the best domestic companion if you like the undemanding pet, not always under your foot or face. British Shorthairs always keep a low profile. They are loving and affectionate but not clingy, playful, but not too much.

They usually are considered calm, even-tempered, and under demand. But they show a little resistance like all other cats, mainly when they are first introduced, or you change their place abruptly.

When they get familiar with their owner or pet parent, they become incredibly loyal companions. They can be faithful and loving companions only when you give them time and love and care for them. The more attention and love you give them, the more they will repay you.

Once they trust you, British Short Hair will become devoted and confident and enjoy following you from one room to another to monitor your activities. They are a quiet, calm companion without demanding your full attention.

Recently Catherine E. Stalin along with her team conducted a research study on British short hair, and they found that Cerebellar vascular hamartoma is also very common in a British Shorthair cat

Living In An Apartment With A British Shorthair Cat:

British Shorthair can make fantastic apartment cats, which are alert and playful without being destructive or hyper. Instead of choosing a person, British shorthair shows their loyalty to the whole family with whom they have a relationship.

They are more independent than most other cat breeds and usually adapt to all the different situations. British shorthairs do not tend to be vocal cats. They make small noises instead of mews, which is very funny with these muscular bodies.

They make some of the loudest purrings you’ve ever heard. British shorthairs are often famous for their motorboat type purrs.

Is The British Shorthair Cat A Good Lap Cat?

You must remember one thing that British shorthairs are not lapped cats. They will prefer to sit next to you or lean on your feet rather than wrapped around you or cuddle in your lap.

The British shorthair does not like being picked up or carried in hands. If you forcefully pick them up, they stretch out their legs to push you. They also get annoyed when being kissed, but head presses are acceptable, and they accept petting with great enthusiasm and appreciation.

How Is The British Shorthair Cat with children and other pets

This mild-mannered cat is suitable for living with children and families, along with cat-friendly dogs. British Shorthairs are great with kids, and kids love these plush smiling feline friends.

They give attention to the children, who treat him politely and respectfully and forget the clumsy little ones.

Monitor young children and show them how to raise a cat well. Instead of grabbing or carrying them, pet them while sitting on the floor. Other cats will not be disturbed by British Shorthair.

British Shorthair cats can live with other animals in the house, including dogs, when they are adequately introduced. For best results, always introduce any pet, even other cats, slowly and in a controlled manner.

Is British Shorthair is the best cat breed for children?

While this breed is not extensively recognized as one of the best species for children, all cats are different and, with the proper training and familiarisation, may still be able to live with children

British Shorthair Conclusion: Important Features To Remember

  • Larger stockier cat breed
  • Playful and curious cat
  • Quiet cat
  • A friendly but independent cat
  • Requires Grooming once a week
  • Non Hypoallergenic breed
  • May require familiarisation before living with children.


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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