British Shorthair

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British Shorthair
Mystica from British Empire Cattery.jpg
A blue British Shorthair
Alternative names Highlander
Highland Straight
Origin Great Britain
Breed standards
TICA standard
FIFe standard
CFA standard
FFE standard
ACF standard
CCA standard
AACE standard
ACFA/CAA standard
Others CCCofA standard
Domestic cat (Felis catus)

The British Shorthair is a domesticated cat whose features make it a popular breed in cat shows.[1] It has been the most popular breed of cat registered by the UK's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) since 2001, when it overtook the Persian breed.[2]

Breed description[edit]

A young male blue British Shorthair beginning to show the copper eyes typical of cats with 'blue' fur.

British Shorthairs have dense, plush coats that are often described as crisp or cracking, referring to the way the coat breaks over the contours of the cat's body. Their eyes are large, round and widely set and can be a variety of colours, though the copper or gold eyes of the British blue are the best known. Their heads are round with full, chubby cheeks and their bodies are large and muscular. The breed has a broad chest and shoulders, short legs, round paws and a plush tail with a blunt tip, the tail commonly has dark rings around it at the near bottom.[3]

The males of this breed are larger than the females, and the size difference between them is more easily noticed compared to other breeds. The males' average weight is 5-10 kilograms, whereas a female weighs up to 5–7 kilograms. The silver shaded variety is generally much smaller with females being 2.6-3.5 kilograms and males being 4.2-5 kilograms. As with many breeds, the adult males may also develop prominent cheek jowls that distinguish them from their female counterparts.[4]

The average weight of a British shorthair was 4.1 kg and the span 2.2 - 8.3 kg in this study.[5]

Physical characteristics[edit]

The British Shorthair is a very muscular cat, with a "square" body shape and thick legs. British Shorthairs have large, broad heads. Their eyes stand out and tend to be large and round. Their relatively small ears with rounded tips are set far apart. They have pert snub noses and slightly rounded chins.[6]


British Shorthairs come in many colours and patterns. For many years, the more popular blue variant was common enough to have a breed name of its own: the "British Blue". It remains one of the most popular colours[specify], though there is now a large variety of other colour and pattern variants accepted by most feline governing bodies and associations.[examples needed] These include the colours black, blue, white, red, cream, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn.

British Shorthairs can be bred in "self" or "solid", which are all one colour, as well as the colourpoint, tabby, shaded and bicolour patterns. All colours and patterns also come in the tortoiseshell pattern, which is a combination of red and cream with other colours.[7]


British blue hugo.jpg

British Shorthairs are an easygoing breed of cat; they tend to be safe around children as they will tolerate a fair amount of physical interaction and hiss or scratch very rarely. Although they are usually calm and relaxed, most of them usually do not let the owner carry them. They will let their owners pet them as long as they want it to. [8] They have a stable character and take well to being kept as indoor-only cats, making them ideal for apartment living. They are not very demanding of attention, though they will let their owner know if they feel like playing. They often prefer to sit close to their owners rather than on them.

The breed has become a favourite of animal trainers because of its nature and intelligence, and in recent years these cats have appeared in Hollywood films and television commercials.[4] They can learn small tricks.


British Shorthairs do not require a lot of grooming as their fur does not tangle or mat easily. However, it is recommended that the coat be brushed occasionally, especially during seasonal shedding, since they may develop hairballs at this time. British Shorthairs can be prone to obesity when desexed or kept indoors, so care should be taken with their diet.[3]


Swedish insurance data puts the median lifespan of British Shorthairs at >12.5 years.[9] The two biggest health problems in the breed are Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and Hip Dysplasia (HD). A Danish prevalence study with more than 329 cats showed that 20.4% of males and 2.1% of the females had HCM. On top of this 6.4% of males and 3.5% of females were judged to be equivocal.[5] Due to the shape of their noses(bended inside), most of them usually suffer from nasal problams that may even effect their breathing.

HCM testing of males used for breeding is now mandatory for breeders organized under the danish Fife member, Felis Danica. [10]

The exact prevalence of HD is unknown, but judging from the few entries in the Pawpeds health program it is high. There are approximately 100 HD health entries and 65 are not normal.[11] The prevalence of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is also unknown, but the breed is to a large degree founded on Persians, which have had a 40% PKD prevalence.[12] The prevalence of flat-chested kitten syndrome is unknown, but flat-chested kittens are seen.

Genetic diversity[edit]

The 2008 study The Ascent of Cat Breeds: Genetic Evaluations of Breeds and Worldwide Random-bred Populations by Lipinski et al. conducted at UC Davis by the team led by leading feline geneticist Dr Leslie Lyons found that the British shorthair has a medium level of genetic diversity of all the breeds studied and that this is somewhat less than the average of random bred cats.

Famous British Shorthairs[edit]


  1. ^ "British Shorthair Breed Profile". TheCatSite. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  2. ^ "Analysis of Breeds Registered by the GCCF". Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  3. ^ a b "British Shorthair: Cat Breed FAQ". Cat Fanciers. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  4. ^ a b "British Shorthair Cat Breed Information and Pictures". Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  5. ^ a b Granström, S.; Nyberg Godiksen, M. T.; Christiansen, M.; Pipper, C. B.; Willesen, J. T.; Koch, J. (2011). "Prevalence of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in a Cohort of British Shorthair Cats in Denmark". Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 25 (4): 866–871. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2011.0751.x. PMID 21736622.  edit
  6. ^ "British Blue Cat Physical Characteristics". Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  7. ^ "Breed Standard: British Shorthair" (PDF). Cat Fanciers' Association. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  8. ^ "British Shorthair Personality"
  9. ^ Egenvall, A.; Nødtvedt, A.; Häggström, J.; Ström Holst, B.; Möller, L.; Bonnett, B. N. (2009). "Mortality of Life-Insured Swedish Cats during 1999—2006: Age, Breed, Sex, and Diagnosis". Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 23 (6): 1175–1183. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2009.0396.x. PMID 19780926.  edit
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Polycystic Kidney Disease". Genetic welfare problems of companion animals. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 

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