The British Longhair is much less well known than the British Shorthair but it is one of the most attractive cat breeds.
The stunning blue British Longhair illustrating this page is a companion to Bob and Lise Clark who live on Chestnut Run farm, with an orchard and small winery, in southern New Jersey, United States of America (date 2009). The Clarks have two cats, Robyn and Chepi. Chepi is a silver ticked tabby female American Bobtail. I would like to say how privileged and pleased I am to present, on this page, Helmi Flick’s beautiful photographs of a beautiful cat.
Some Background Information
Ken Flick recounts the photo session that resulted in the photographs on this page:
“As you can see from the photos, Robyn, a neutered male, was a consummate model who thrived on our attentions and actively enjoyed being photographed. Robyn was bred by LaziBlues cattery, which is owned by Zina Avrutova, who lives in New York state.”
This is a rare cat. There is no doubt about that. As Ken goes on to say:
“LaziBlues is only a British Shorthair breeder. But the longhaired gene is a recessive gene that lurks in the background of all Brit lines and makes an occasional unintended appearance. I expect the longhaired gene traces back to the time right after World War II when the resident population of British Shorthairs in the UK had been brought to the edge of extinction and had to be revitalized by outcrossing to Persians. But you probably know this story better than I do, Michael.”
As it happens I do know a bit more and my page on the History of the British Shorthair Cat not only explains the overall history of the breed but there is reference to how the long hair of the Persian was introduced into the British Shorthair (BSH). The recessive long hair gene remains to this day. In summary, as Ken says, there was outcrossing to Persian cats. There appears to be three events, in which the pure British Shorthair (at that time) was crossed with the Persian:
- About the 1900s in Britain, in order to make the British Shorthair more cobby (more rounded) and I guess more interesting (we need to change from what is normal) it was crossed with the Persian. The Persian and Siamese at that time were more exotic and interesting. Lets make the good old Brit SH more interesting too, I guess the breeders thought.
- After WWI the British SH breed had declined in numbers and the GCCF (the premier UK cat association) declared that only 3rd generation offspring of matings between Persians and BSH could be shown in cat shows. WWII reduced the numbers of the BSH too.
- After WWII cat breeders outcrossed to domestic cats, Persians, Russian Blue, Chartreux and Burmese and others. This changed the appearance of the BSH, which was gradually bred back to the way the breed previously looked and of course the recessive longhair gene remained in the breeding lines
Of the British Longhair cat, generally, even well known books such as the Legacy of the Cat and The Encyclopedia of the Cat don’t assist in researching the breed. Perhaps there is little to know except that this is a long haired version of the better known British Shorthair. This is supported by the fact that TICA (The International Cat Association, the 2nd largest) breed standard is the same except for hair length and hair descriptions.
The longhair gene in cats is recessive, as mentioned, which means the cat needs 2 copies of the gene to have longhair. If a cat has one copy of the gene the cat is shorthaired. However, she can pass the longhaired trait to offspring. The presence of the carried gene will come to light when and if the cat is bred to another cat that carries the gene or to a longhaired cat.
Cat Association Recognition and Appearance
This breed has the general appearance of the flat face Persian (the ultra typed or extreme typed Persian) but is much better looking and more handsome, I believe. To many people the ultra Persian is ugly, I think it fair to say. The breed is also more healthy than the flat faced Persian as well. So what happened? There is a strong argument for the British Longhair to take the place of the flat faced Persian.
Ken Flick says:
“[What is the] recognition of this breed in various associations/registries worldwide? In the US, I know that TICA does, CFA does not [recognize this breed]”
So, what of the other cat associations? Is this cat recognized by them? This is the picture:
- ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association) – not recognized
- GCCF (General Council of the Cat Fancy (UK only) – not recognized
- FiFe (Europe other than the UK, essentially) – not recognized
- WCF (World Cat Federation, Russia and Europe) – recognized
Description from TICA in relation to the COAT/COLOR/PATTERN of the British Longhair cat:
“Semi-long, straight, dense, standing away from the body, not long and flowing. Ruff and britches desirable
Fluff-plush texture, dense, with natural protective appearance. Texture may differ slightly in colors other than blue
Longhair: short or silky coat, long flowing ‘Persian’ coat, light undercoat, light delicate boning. WITHHOLD ALL AWARDS (WW): Lockets.”
See British Shorthair cat for a description of this breed generally.
Well, it seems to me that Robyn meets this part of the standard. I love the ruff, which is outstanding. Both Ken Flick and I share the same thoughts about the wrong perpetrated on the Persian cat by a combination of the cat associations, judges and in some cases the Persian cat breeders in developing a hopelessly ill conceived cat breed, the extreme type Persian. On that basis Ken says this about the British Longhair cat:
“With the British cat having been rescued from near extinction in World War II by having been outcrossed with the Persian, perhaps it’s time for the Longhaired variant of the Brit to repay this breed’s war debt by offering its services as an outcross with a fully functional muzzle and healthy respiration in order to rescue the deliberately disfigured Persian from being genetically engineered into extinction by those entrusted with its care.”
“When one looks at the British Longhair it is easy to imagine that this is a cat the poor Persians would dream of being.”
The point is that this breed could rehabilitate the Ultra type, extreme, Persian and maybe it is time that this happened. It would complete the circle. The flat faced extreme Persian should look like the British Longhair.
Finally, as mentioned, the only other cat association other than TICA to recognize the British Longhair cat is the World Cat Federation (good for them). Here is a brief summary of the breed standard from the WCF:
- Body: medium/large, muscular, cobby (see cat body types); chest, shoulders and back are “massive”; strong, short neck, legs are short and muscular; thick and round paws, tail is medium long/thick.
- Head: rounded, massive and broad; short nose; short muzzle.
- Ears: medium in size.
- Eyes: large and round.
- Coat: medium/long, dense and smooth, undercoat, crisp, ruff desirable, bushy tail.
- Colors: “All colours and point colours without white are recognized”
British Longhair cat sources:
- Ken Flick
- The cat associations
P.S. This page was first published in about 2010 or earlier. It is still relevant. I believe this breed needs more exposure which is why I have re-dated the post which effectively republishes it as of today’s date (21st Dec 2018).