Everything about your British Shorthair Cat

  The British Shorthair is solid and muscular with an easygoing personality. As befits his British heritage, he is slightly reserved, but once he gets to know someone he’s quite affectionate. His short, dense coat comes in many colors and patterns and should be brushed two or three times a week to remove dead hair.



  The British Shorthair, also called the English Cat or simply the “Brit,” is the national cat of the British Isles. This is a compact, muscular and powerful breed that should be “cobby” or chunky in appearance. The British Shorthair has a broad chest, short strong legs and large rounded paws. Its tail is thick at the base, round at the tip and plush but not fluffy. The males are almost always larger than the females; this size difference is more easily recognized in British Shorthairs than in most other domestic breeds. Unlike females, mature males tend to develop prominent chubby cheeks, or jowls, which is another distinguishing gender-based feature.
  The British Shorthair – or the “Brit,” as it is sometimes affectionately called – is an easygoing, intelligent, friendly breed. It has been described as being placid, patient and predictable. The British Shorthair’s sweet and gentle nature makes them wonderful, steadfast companions and undemanding family members. They adapt easily to apartment, farm, city or estate living. These are not noisy or pushy cats, although they greatly appreciate and accept affection when it is offered to them.

Other Quick Facts

  • The British Shorthair has a stocky, sturdy, square body with a broad, full chest, short, strong legs, and a short, thick tail that tapers to a rounded tip. He wears a plush, luxurious coat that makes you want to roll around in it. He has a round head with a short nose, chubby cheeks and round eyes, all of which combine to give him a smiling expression
  • Blue is the most popular color for British Shorthairs, so much so that the “British Blue” almost seems as if he is his own breed. Other colors and patterns include white, black, blue, cream, various tabby patterns, tortoiseshell, calico and bi-color (a color plus white).  His eyes can be deep gold, copper, blue or green, depending on which of his many coat colors or patterns he sports.
Breed standards

Other names: Highlander, Highland Straight, Britannica
TICA: Standard

CFA: Standard

Lap Cat: Yes
Physique: Sturdy, big bodied cats
Average lifespan: 12-17 years
Average size: 12-20 pounds
Coat appearance: Dense, Plush, and Short
Coloration: Blue, Brown, Cream, Red, Silver, Tabby and White, and Tortoise Shell
Pattern: All
Hypoallergenic: No
Best Suited For: Families and singles with or without children and pets
Temperament: Calm, easy going, adaptable, affectionate
  When the Romans invaded Britain, they brought cats with them to help protect their food supplies from rodents along the way. The Romans eventually left, but the cats remained behind, conquering a country with only their charm. When the breeding of pedigreed cats became a fad in Victorian England, the British Shorthair was one of the first varieties to be developed. The Longhair came about when breeders made crosses to Persians during World War I.
  As with so many breeds, British Shorthairs almost died out during World War II, victims of food shortages that left breeders unable to feed their cats. After the war, the breed was revived with crosses to domestic shorthairs, Russian Blues, Persians and other cats.
  The American Cat Association recognized the British Blue in 1967, The International Cat Association in 1979 and the Cat Fanciers Association in 1980. In 2009, TICA recognized the British Longhair as a variety, the only cat association to do so. 


  These genial British cats are friendly and affectionate, enjoying attention in an undemanding manner. The happy-go-lucky males command respect but welcome attention from everyone while the more serious females are true British ladies expecting proper form and etiquette from those whose attentions they accept. These loyal and devoted companions are not lap cats but want to be where you are, snuggling up beside you on the sofa. 
  While not very active cats, they do have their mad moments to chase around acting the clown like kittens. These intelligent cats are quiet and unobtrusive ruling their indoor kingdoms with a calm demeanor. They definitely look before they leap and do not engage in high-flying acrobatics. They are tolerant with children and dogs but do not like to be carried around, preferring to maintain their dignity with their feet firmly on the floor. They are quite content with their own company, quietly amusing themselves in your absence and waiting patiently for your return.

  Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Problems that have been seen in the Shorthair are gingivitis and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, both of which can affect any breed.


  The British Shorthair’s short, smooth coat is simple to groom with weekly brushing or combing to remove dead hairs. A bath is rarely necessary.
  Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Trim the nails weekly. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection.
  Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear.
  Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Cats are very particular about bathroom hygiene.
It’s a good idea to keep a British Shorthair as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. British Shorthairs who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a beautiful cat without paying for it.
Behavioral Traits
  Today’s purebred British Shorthairs retain many of the traits of their streetwise non-pedigreed ancestors. They have great endurance and keen hunting abilities. They are highly intelligent, steady, trainable cats, making them favorites among animal trainers. Because of these characteristics, British Shorthairs have been used in a number of films, television shows and commercial advertisements over the years. British Shorthairs are not ones to spend most of their days cat-napping on cushions. Most of them have an independent streak and enjoy their freedom.
Activity Level


  The British Shorthair is an easy going, laid back cat. They like to play in short bursts in between napping during the day. With this said, they are always ready and keen to play interactive games with the kids which is why they make such wonderful family pets.
  Cats that are kept as indoor pets need to be given lots of things to do. They also need to have lots of places they can snuggle up for a snooze when the mood takes them because if there is one thing British Shorthairs are really good at, it’s napping during the day.
  The British Shorthair’s plush coat is easy to groom with weekly combing or brushing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. You’ll need to brush him more often in the spring and fall when he sheds his coat in preparation for new growth. Comb the British Longhair daily to prevent or remove any tangles or mats.
  The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually weekly. Check the ears every week for redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Start brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing early so your kitten becomes accepting of this activity.
Children And Other Pets
  This mild-mannered cat is well suited to life with families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He loves the attention he receives from children who treat him politely and with respect and is forgiving of clumsy toddlers. 
  Supervise young children and show them how to pet the cat nicely. Instead of holding or carrying the cat, have them sit on the floor and pet him. Other cats will not disturb his equilibrium. For best results, always introduce any pets, even other cats, slowly and in a controlled setting.
Is the British Shorthair the Right Breed for you?


Low Maintenance: Occasional grooming is advised to keep its coat in good shape. Though we see cats regularly lick their coats to clean themselves, some regular grooming can be good; it removes hair, prevents matting, and stimulates circulation. Frequency should be once a week.
Minimal Shedding: Very little to no shedding occurs for this cat breed. These type of cats typically produce little to no dander and are hypoallergenic.
Generally Healthy: It doesn’t have as many known illnesses and conditions as other cats. Best for owners who do not want to worry about long-term medical costs.
Low Vocalization: It is known to be quiet. Therefore, owners shouldn’t be concerned of excessive and undesirable crying or meowing, especially at night.
Minimal Attention: This breed does not need a lot of attention. It aligns best with owners who do not like demanding and attention-seeking cats. Time alone spent can be 8 hours per day.
Slightly Active: It does not mind lounging around and being lazy. Some exercise may be necessary to maintain its health. Nonetheless, this breed is perfect for owners who desire non-active cats.
Good With Others: It is usually good with adults, children, and seniors and can be moderately affectionate towards them.
Did You Know?
  The British Shorthair and British Longhair are the same, except, of course, for their coats.
In popular culture

Smokey from Stuart Little (1999)

  • Sir John Tenniel’s famous illustration of the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is based on the British Shorthair.
  • Smokey the cat in E.B. White’s children’s novel Stuart Little was a British Blue.
  • A silver tabby British Shorthair is the mascot of Whiskas brand cat food.
  • Winston Churchill (Church) from Pet Sematary is a British Blue.
  • Toby, of the ABC prime time drama Desperate Housewives, is a British Shorthair.
  • Arlene, Garfield the cat’s girlfriend, is portrayed as a British Blue in Garfield: The Movie
  • Ruby in the film adaptation of the memoir Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen is a British Blue.
  • Sir Claude the cat in the Australian CGI-animated film Blinky Bill the Movie is based on the iconic children’s books by Dorothy Wall. Sir Claude is a feral British Shorthair cat voiced by Rufus Sewell.
  • One of the villains in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable is a British Blue which transforms into a plant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like