The origin of the British shorthair cat is one of the micro events that was being silently played out in the background of the Roman invasion into Great Britain. This cat breed was brought along by the Romans as a companion as well as protectors of their food supplies from rodents during the voyage. They settled and remained in Britain, eventually becoming one of the first breeds that experienced the breeding fanfare of pedigreed cats in Victorian England.
The breed was known simply as the Shorthair of Britain during that time. Development of the breed during the 1910s has involved the crossing with Persian cats, which resulted in the longhair variety. The highly favored longhair variety eventually led to the decline in numbers of the Shorthair variety.
World War I aggravated the impact further as more of British Shorthairs are being affected. In order to rescue the declining number of Shorthair cats, and in the face of limited varieties, efforts to re-establish the breed were made by sometimes crossing it with the Persian cats. However, objections were made by the Governing Council of Cat Fancy (GCCF) against the use of Persian cats for the breed. Thus, unless a third generation of offspring is produced through purebred, GCCF would not register the breed as British Shorthair. Efforts were then made to see it to fruition.
However, World War II had posed another threat to the survival of British Shorthairs, requiring breeders to turn to unregistered domestics such as Russian Blues and Chatreaux for the crossing with British Shorthairs. The litter of the mating, however, did not match the British Shorthairs and thus Persian cats were once again introduced into the breeding program to re-create the appearance of the British Shorthairs.
The breed, especially the British Blue, developed in popularity and gained full recognition under the American Cat Association in 1967. The clinching of championship status under The International Cat Association in the 1979 extended its boundaries of recognition and the year after has seen it being registered under the Cat Fanciers Association as well. The British Shorthair has claimed the position of being the number 1 purebred cat in the United Kingdom and became one of the oldest English breed of cats.
Physical appearance and attribute
The British Shorthair is a medium to large sized cat, weighing 15 – 20 pounds for males and 9 – 13 pounds for females. Such a weight comes from having a stocky and sturdy body that composes of powerful muscles. It has a short, thick neck and a full chest broadened by its solid shoulders. Balancing the body is a substantial medium length tail that tapers into a rounder tip. Supported by heavy boned legs that are thick and moderately long with rounded paws, the British Shorthair’s body disposes a robust stance that is hefty yet well-balanced.
The head of the British Shorthair is large and rounded with a broad skull. Its plump cheeks added to the full expression. Its pair of ears is set well apart, wide at the base and rounded at the tips. The huge rounded eyes are well spaced, and depending on the coat color, they can come in rich gold, copper, blue or green. Its short nose is aligned with a well-developed chin and sits upon a full and rounded whisker pads, which is one of its most pronounced features. These facial features come together forming the signature smiling expression that is defining of the British Shorthair.
What is distinctive of the British Shorthair is its short, crisp coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Solid colors include blue, white, black, red and cream, all of which can come in smoke or shaded varieties. Patterned coat can come in classic tabby, mackerel tabby, spotted tabby, calico, parti-color or bi-color. Among all, the solid blue coat has been the most popular.
The texture and density of the hair reflect a plush, posh and luxurious coat, wrapping the cat in all its warmth and comfort. The whole disposition of the British Shorthair is likened to the Cheshire cat revealed in the adventures of Alice in Wonderland, only that it is a real character offering real affections to homes who treasure it as a beloved pet.
Personality and temperament
A British breed, the cat possesses a calm and undemanding nature exhibited in its lasting patient. The British Shorthair has the ability to brighten your day with its naively sweet and warm expression and to melt your heart with its gentle meow. It appreciates attention, and is playful and involved without the risk of being destructive. It has been described as having a mix of the calmness of the Persian and the intelligence of the European cats.
With an energy level that is moderate, it is rare to find a British Shorthair climbing onto high perches.
An independent breed, it enjoys following and staying close by to the few loved ones, but is seldom on their laps or in the arms. It disposes a dignified stance with a courage that is well meditated. Even though it might appear cold, it does not approach strangers with indifference or hostility. Its smart mind calls for interactive play and puzzle toys that would stimulate its brain and satisfy its occasional playfulness.
Care and health issues
The British Shorthair is a healthy breed with a general lifespan of between 14 – 18 years. While fit, possible health issues include Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a common heart disease among cats, and haemophilia B, a hereditary bleeding disorder. A DNA test has been developed that allows breeders to identify affected cats. Thus, a regular check up at qualified vet would help to ensure that the breed’s health is maintained.
Its plush coat is easy to groom; a weekly brushing would help remove accumulated loose hairs and keep the coat in a healthy glow. Ensure that other basic grooming practices of the nails, ears and teeth are carried out consistently to promote a healthy and hearty growth.
The daily food requirement for the British Shorthair is usually more than other cat breeds, approximately 70 Kcals per kilogram of body weight. Coupled with its love for food, the British Shorthair has a propensity to be overweight. Thus, efforts would need to be taken in the quality and quantity of food intake for this breed. Working it out with a veterinarian could help in creating an ideal diet plan for the different stage growths of the breed and ensures that the cat has all the nutritional needs met.
The ideal home
Being a moderately active cat, the British Shorthair is a breed hat can adapt well to apartment and indoor living provided that they have adequate space for play and exercises. An adventure zone constructed with cat gym sets, scratching poles, non-toxic plants and interactive toys would be ideal to encourage an active and wholesome growth. Outdoor zones should be enclosed and secured.
The British Shorthair though tolerant of children, prefers the interaction with those who are older and calmer. An easy-going breed, it is able to get along well with other cats and cat-friendly dogs. A tranquil environment where it is able to relax and snooze would be highly prized by this breed, making them an ideal companion for small families and older folks.
With its ever composed and pleasant disposition, the British Shorthair would make an excellent pet of comfort, devotion and sweetness.