British Shorthair

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British Shorthair
Classic "British Blue" Shorthair
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 breed with a distinctively chunky body, plush coat and broad face. The most familiar colour variant is the "British Blue", a solid blue-gray with copper eyes; however the breed has subsequently been developed in a wide range of other colours and patterns.

The breed is an ancient one, having been initially developed in Roman Britain using cats imported by the Romans from Egypt. It is currently the most popular pedigreed breed registered by the UK's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). [1] A blue British Shorthair is the subject of the original "I Can Has Cheezburger?" image, credited with popularising the lolcat phenomenon.

Breed description[edit]

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

British Shorthairs are a popular breed in cat shows.[2] They have short, 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]

These cats are related to the British longhair and British Semi-longhair breeds, but differ in coat length.

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, though there is now a large variety of other colour and pattern variants accepted by most feline governing bodies and associations. 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 since they will tolerate a fair amount of physical interaction, and they only very rarely hiss or scratch. Although they are usually calm and relaxed, most of them usually do not let the owner carry them. The cat will let the owner pet it only when the cat wants petting.[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 temperament 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]


Vet clinic data from England shows a median lifespan of 11.8 years for the British Shorthair.[9] Swedish insurance data puts the median lifespan of the breed at >12.5 years. 82% of British Shorthairs lived to 10 years or more and 54% lived to 12.5 years or more.[10] 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 problems 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] 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. ^ "Analysis of Breeds Registered by the GCCF". Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  2. ^ "British Shorthair Breed Profile". TheCatSite. Retrieved 2006-08-31. 
  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"". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  9. ^ doi:10.1177/1098612X14536176
    This citation will be automatically completed in the next few minutes. You can jump the queue or expand by hand "n=69, median=11.8, IQR 5.8-16.3, range 0.0-21.0"
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ "Felis Danica". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  12. ^ "PawPeds". PawPeds. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  13. ^ "Polycystic Kidney Disease". Genetic welfare problems of companion animals. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 

External links[edit]