The British Longhair cat is neither the result of a spontaneous mutation nor a product of experimental outcross. It is the outcome of the mating between two Shorthaired cats that carries the recessive longhair gene. The British Longhair is considered essentially a variation of the British Shorthair. The British Shorthair started inheriting the longhair recessive gene during the World War I period, which was between 1914 and 1918. The war has destroyed many of the quality breeding lines of most of the cats in Britain, including those of the British Shorthair. Thus, in order to restore the quality lines, breeders had paired the British Shorthair with the Persian cat breed to help regain the standards that had been lost.
The efforts were threatened by World War II and this time the registered British Shorthair lines were near to extinction. Only a few breeders were left to once again rebuild the standards of the breed. To do that, the Chartreux, Russian Blue and the Burmese breed were brought into the breeding program. Such cross breeding with Longhaired cats has led to the British Shorthair inheriting the recessive longhair gene. In order for the longhair coat type to occur in the litter, both the parents must be carriers of the longhair gene. As it is, the longhair kitten that sometimes appears in the litter of British Shorthair has come to be known as the British Longhair.
This beautiful breed has deservingly obtained the championship status under The International Cat Association (TICA) since May 2009. Even though it originated in the United Kingdom, it is not being recognized by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). The British Longhair is more popular in other parts of the world than in the United Kingdom. In most of Europe, it is known as the Britannica; while in the Netherlands and the Unites States, it is known as the Lowlander.
Physical appearance and attributes
The British Longhair is a medium sized cat that has an average weight of between 9 – 18 pounds. It has a cobby and stout body type, making it appear longer than it is tall. Its broad, deep chest and its muscular back give it a stately stance. The legs are short but strong, tapering into firm rounded paws. It balances well with a thick and well-proportionate tail that tapers into a gorgeous plume. It has also added elegance to its entire disposition.
The head, rounded with a broad skull and is set on a short thick neck. What gives its face its distinctiveness is its chubby and chipmunk-like cheeks and broad nose. Viewed in profile, a straight line can be traced along the nose with a slight indentation between the eyes. However, this is unlike the kind of nose stop that appears in Persian or Exotic cats. A slight bulge at the forehead is also evident. Atop the head is a pair short and widely set ears. They are broad at the base and taper to a rounded tip. Eyes of the British Longhair are round and large, and they come in a color that matches its coat color.
The coat of the British Longhair is medium in length and is often described as soft and fluffy. It carries one of the most expansive ranges of colors and patterns among other cat breeds. These include black, blue, chocolate, cinnamon, cream, fawn, lilac and red. The patterns include bicolor, color-point, tabby, tipped, tortoiseshell and smoke.
Personality and Temperament
The British Longhair is known for its affectionate and adaptable temperament. Its activeness and playfulness is more evident when it’s a kitten before it tones down as it grows in maturity. It becomes less demanding in attention and less active as compared to, for example, the Bengal or Abyssinian breed. However, it retains its devotion and affection and still loves to be cuddled and petted. It is one of the friendliest known breed towards children and would remain loving despite the aggressiveness of children. It can also get along well with family pets that are equally adaptable. The British Longhair does have a mind and character of its own and might react unfavorably towards things that it doesn’t like. In such cases it would also make its displeasure known to its owner in its own way.
Care and health issues
This is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 15 years. It is advisable to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders when purchasing the cat. This will ensure that the cat is not contracted with other common feline ailments. An annual visit to the veterinarian would also help in maintaining its good health.
The long hair coat of the British Longhair will need daily brushing to remove tangles and matt. An occasional bath would help to keep the coat healthy. Brush the teeth frequently with vet approved toothpaste. The nails will need to be trimmed whenever necessary. Check the ears also for odor and redness that might indicate infections.
The ideal home
The good nature of this gorgeous breed makes it an ideal pet for most homes. It’s neither too lofty nor too clingy. Its friendliness is shown to the entire family and it remains loyal to the household that takes responsibility over it. The British Longhair will thrive in a household where its rights are respected, and where it also has the freedom to initiate loving contact.
It is necessary to create a play zone for this relatively playful cat. Equip the play zone with interactive toys, cat trees and cat gym sets to encourage and to promote an active and healthy growth. This is also essential considering its love for food and its propensity to gain weight rapidly. Thus, it is also important to control its portion of food and keep a look out on its intake.
British Longhair is suitable for both indoor and outdoor living. However outdoor spaces must be safe and escape-proof. With adequate care and attention, the British Longhair will remain an endearing and affectionate pet and companion in the home.