British Shorthair Cat

british shorthair cat
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British Shorthair British Shorthair British Shorthairbritish shorthair

Photos in the above group of Earl Grey copyright © Helmi Flick

For visitors who live abroad and who are unsure, Earl Grey is a popular English tea. The blue coat is the classic Brit. SH look. See also Grey cat breeds (new window).


Unsterilised Blue British Shorthair made in the Philippines showing off his attributes
Unsterilised Blue British Shorthair made in the Philippines showing off his attributes unashamedly. Photo and breeder: Purramore Cattery.

It could be said that the British Shorthair Cat is as natural a breed as is possible today in that all registered breeds are now subject to human intervention. The breed originates from the British Domestic Shorthair or British Moggie, which has an extremely long history. Throughout its early history this was “the working cat of Great Britain”2. The American Shorthair is the USA equivalent and is founded upon the Brit. SH. The founder of the cat fancy, Harrison Weir, bred British Blues3.

Female British Shorthair kitten bred in Russia by the Diabrimaris Cattery
Female British Shorthair kitten bred in Russia by the Diabrimaris Cattery

A number of cat breeds are mutated “British Shorthair cats”; although before the cat fancy started, they were thought of as simply “cats”, on farms and streets. An example is the Selkirk Rex, the mutated gene making the fur curly and crinkly. Through selective breeding from the late 1800s the Moggie was transformed into a recognized breed; the British Shorthair. This is very definitely my kind of cat. Helmi Flick loves ’em too (see Sky and Nox below).

The outstanding features are a quiet voice and a plush dense coat to combat the typical English weather and a semi-cobby body type. This is probably the most pleasurable of all purebred cats to stroke because of the feel of the coat! This breed has been described as the “teddy bear of the cat fancy”2. See also the British Longhair Cat, a stupendous cat that trumps the Persian!

White British Shorthair kitten male from Russia
White British Shorthair kitten male from Russia. Photo: Альбина Шконда
питомник британских кошек Golden Leris
nursery Golden Leris. WCF.

Click here to see visitors’ submissions


At the time (early 1900s) that the British Shorthair cat started to gain some ground in the early days of the cat fancy the Persian was king. The rich and famous wanted to have a glamorous Persian cat or perhaps a Siamese cat. The middle classes kept a Moggie, the British Shorthair to be.

British Shorthair cat

The Siamese was very rare and popular at the time and journalists reporting on cat shows would invariably end up enthusing about the rare and extraordinary Siamese cat.

The British Shorthair today looks very similar to the English cat of 110 years ago. There would seem to be a slight difference, an enhancement of the concept of roundness and cobbiness that is so admired in the Brit SH and the refinement of its coat. This can be seen by making a comparison in the photograph below of a champion Brit SH taken at the end of the 1800s and the cats photographed by Helmi Flick on this page. Picture above: British SH late 1800s – see copyright

Bootsie, my British Shorthair, was lounging on the windowsill when suddenly, the phone began ringing. Almost immediately after and just as suddenly, Bootsie began making a strange sound. It sounded a bit like a telephone! Then, he batted the telephone out of my hand and yowled into it. My friend Steve, who was on the phone, laughed his head off when I got the phone back and apologized. Bootsie soon made it into a habit. People who didn’t know I had a cat were stunned, and I was the one laughing my head off. Bootsie is SSOOOO cute!….Camilla (Keller, Texas USA)


Roman timesBritish moggie to be is introduced into Britain by the Romans
Hundreds of years before 1871British Shorthair (BS) existed as a “domestic cat”, what we now call a Moggie in the UK until the cat was turned into a formal cat breed through deliberate and selective breeding. Known as European Shothairs1.
late 1800sSelective breeding began
1871Blue tabby won Best in Show at the Crystal Palace Cat Show. This was the first official cat show (I presume world wide)
1889Written up in one of the first cat books
1918-1940sFirst and Second World War Years – severe decline in number of this breed. Breeders obliged to make outcrosses with other breeds including Persian cats causing a divergence from true BS type. The GCCF no longer allows out crossing to Persians.
1950sBreed had almost died out. Dedicated breeders “who exported stock to Ireland and throughout the British Commonwealth”3 revived it.
1901First BS exported and registered in “Americas”
c.1910Exportation of Brit. Shorthair breed to USA
1980CFA granted Brit. Shorthair championship status
1988First CFA national win for this breed (3rd Best Cat in Premiership)
currentRecognized by all N.American cat associations and the GCCF in the UK
See some more on the history of this cat breed in comparison with both the American and European Shorthair cat breeds.
Read a narrative version of the history of the British Shorthair cat.


It is a shame that mankind decided to create a breed called the British Shorthair and then through his activities (wars leading to outcross breeding) over the following decades consciously diverged from the standard that was previously set.

british shorthair


The British Shorthair is a placid, easy going and calm cat, which makes this popular cat suited to people who rush around a lot. Their stable and balanced character makes them suitable for indoor and apartment living. Nonetheless, like all cats they are playful and alert when they want to be.

They are a sturdy looking cat, muscular and strong it is said2. I am not entirely sure that this is accurate. The British Shorthair cats that I have seem are beautiful but of average size and strength. The head is “broad and round”. The muzzle and nose is short but it should not be exaggerated as is the case for the Persian or Exotic Shorthair. I feel that there is a tendency to overdo the shortness of the face in a desire to achieve the chubby cheeked “chipmunk-like appearance”2.

This is a very popular cat breed, currently at September 2010, ranked 7th out of 66 cat breeds in a long running PoC poll of over 3400 visitor votes. This breed of cat takes about 5 years to grow to adulthood. This means that it performs well at cat shows into what might be considered old age. At 11 1/2 years of age a BS received her Grand Premiership at a 1994 show.

british shorthair

They continue to “thicken up” until 4 years of age and are on the heavy side being 12-18 lbs for male cats apparently (15 lbs or so would be about the top end). They are heavier than average I think it fair to say. Click the link to see comparisons on domestic cat weights.

The British Shorthair Cat has a noticeably dense coat. The coat “cracks” when the body is flexed. This means you can see into the fur as it parts. You can see clearly that Earl Grey’s body is sturdy and cobby (stocky). His face is rounded with sweet chubby checks and round copper-colored eyes. The British Shorthair is a sturdy, solid looking cat.

The coat can be in almost any color and pattern. “It is shown in all colours and all divisions of the traditional category”2. The Brit. SH is thought of as an intelligent breed of cat and has appeared in films, on TV and on cat food packaging (Whiskas and Sheba). Research (although to be honest it is not great research) indicates in fact that the British Shorthair is in the mid-range of cat breed intelligence. The Sphynx cat is meant to be the most intelligent under informal testing.

British Shorthair bred and photographed in Minsk Russia
British Shorthair bred and photographed in Minsk Russia by Svetlana Vrublevskaya.

The British Shorthair Cat is relatively quiet, in line with the cat’s personality, which seems to be a little like my cat (a Moggie/Norwegian Forest Cat hybrid) in that they prefer to be near and with you rather than on you. This may be due to overheating when on you as their dense coats provide a high level of insulation. The difference in the characteristics of female and male British Shorthairs, I think, mirrors human differences. The males are less serious than the females and less particular. The British Shorthair is a very popular show cat being as it is relatively easy to maintain in preparation for the show and the easy going character help cope with the stresses of competition.

There is a semi longhair British Shorthair cat. There is breed is that is called the Britanica which is recognized by a cat association called the European Group Cat Association (EGCA). The EGCA have recognized the Britanica since 2002. A search of the Internet produced nothing on the cat breed called the Britanica cat, which is a current cat breed. It is interesting that the word is spelled with one “n” normally the word is spelled “Britannica”. This breed is identical to the British Shorthair except for the length of fur and is known as the Lowlander in the USA, where the breed is experimental. Comparison with European Shorthair and British Shorthair This page provides, I hope, a useful look at the differences between the British Shorthair cat, the American SH and the European Shorthair cat, a breed that was formally recognized as a separate breed late in the day.

The article focuses on the European SH. The differences are subtle. Some more on the British Shorthair cat Some more pictures and the story behind one of the best cat photographs can be seen on this page plus some information on the genetics that go to make up this cat’s appearance.

british shorthair

Above: Photograph of Toes a tabby copyright © Helmi Flick


The British Shorthair Cat is generally healthy. They would seem to have a life span slightly above the average for a purebred cat (averaging 15 years of age). Apparently, they may be more prone than normal to becoming overweight when there is a combination of being neutered or spayed and if they are encouraged to lead a sedentary life style (i.e. living in an apartment or exclusive and permanent indoor living). This may be exacerbated by modern cat diets a lot of it being high in carbohydrates and the fact that they can be lazy sometimes. A low carbohydrate diet should be considered. There is no such thing in my opinion as inactive cat food. It is important to keep a healthy cat weight obviously. Cat weights are increasing with human weights and is of concern to veterinarians.

british shorthair

The best way to deal with this is to ensure some exercise, which means more input from the human keeper together with a low-calorie diet (LD or RD Hills I give my cat – although she is still overweight). Their tendency to become overweight is due, in part, to being naturally inactive at 4-6 years (and beyond) of age.

The British Shorthair cat may also suffer from more than average teeth/gum problems, namely gingivitis. For the human companion there are methods for dealing with this. The breeder also has his part to play in breeding carefully and selectively to minimize the condition. These kinds of problems are not necessarily specific to this breed.

There are also apparently potential heart conditions associated with the British Shorthair cat (HCM Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy). HCM is what I would consider a “problem disease” in that it pops up as an inherited disease in several purebred cats, namely Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Rex cats (this link goes to the Devon but see others on this site) and American Shorthairs (src: Tufts Oct 2-4, 2003). Although it should be said that speaker at Tufts said the HCM is suspected to be inherited in the breeds mentioned other than the Maine Coon in which it is known to be inherited.

The CFA website does not mention HCM in relation to this breed as far as I can see. To this list can I believe be added the Bengal cat. I have made several posts about HCM and the Bengal cat. I have a page on cat health issues on this site. Update: Dr Clark1 says that this breed has a recognised medical problem: Hemophilia B. This is a hereditary deficiency in clotting factor IX. It is also known as Christmas Disease. Cats affected by this disease may “excessively after injury or surgery but the bleeding may be delayed”. 40% of British Shorthair cats have type B blood, a rare trait3. Another disorder more often found in the British Shorthair cat is neonatal erthrolysis. This is the destruction of red blood cells in newborn kittens due to a difference in blood type between mother and her offspring. Although the coat is fairly low maintenance, like all coats it ideally requires regular grooming by us.

British Shorthair

Helmi says this about her Brit. Shorthairs:”Nox and Sky are my British Shorthairs that live with us. Sky is a Blue British Shorthair and Nox is a Black Brit. Both are altered. Their full names are SGCA, RW Earendil Sky (she is a Regional Winner) and CH Earendil Nox. They are 10 years old.” See a slide show the likes of which you’ve never seen before, with large format Helmi photographs According to this website long standing popularity poll the British Shorthair is one of the most popular ranking around 6th out of about 70 cat breeds.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…

Clumping Litter Killed My Cat
I had the pleasure of owning a British Shorthair Cat for 4 years. He was a real gentleman and very smart as well.

I have lost my cat to cancer, after …

Is the British Shorthair prone to depression when left alone?
I ‘rescued’ Sasha from a pet store. He was 7 1/2 months old and when he first came home he would hop like a rabbit. I thought something was wrong but …

Ascot, Here We Come!
My cats are Tuppence, an eight-year-old blue BS female, and Eric the Red, a six-month-old rescued street urchin.

I was sitting and reading when I suddenly …

Russian British Shorthair Cat
I love the British Shorthair! I love them for their beauty, charm, strength and grace. They have a wonderful temperament and are self-sufficient.

Their …

British Shorthair Dies Undergoing Routine Surgery
My almost 7 months old British Shorthair died yesterday while having a routine spaying surgery.

My family is devastated, its a horrible tragedy for …

Gahan: My Lovely British Longhair
Hi Michael, Let me introduce Gahan, my gorgeous 5-month-old British Longhair. He is named after my favourite British singer and his black fur does look …

British Shorthair boys washing each other after breakfast
This is a picture of my lilac and cream boys (half-brothers), born 2 months apart.

The picture was taken a few months ago, they are now 16 and 14 …

British Shorthair Prudence
This is my lovely girl Prudence, (Pru for short). She has been living with me since last November.

Pru was an ex-breeding queen & is now six years old….

Twinkie “The Destroyer”
Twinkie is a 7-month-old Blue Cream brit, who loves everyone, has a quiet yet ‘pushy’ curiosity, a tiny little voice (she ‘grunts’ more than she meows)…

Albert: My British Shorthair
Albert was born in England (UK) almost 4 years ago. He was brought as a kitty by an Englishwoman (who was the previous owner) to Arizona. The owner sold …

Advice Please on Breeding British Shorthair Cats
I live in Cheshire and bought two British Blue kittens from a local breeder. They are both girls. One is called Tallulah and the other Bluebella. They …

My British shorthair cat
My British Shorthair cat named ChaoChao came from Moscow, Russian Federation together with Tracy, my English Cocker Spaniel.

Chao is a bubbly, lovable …

Our Wonderful British Blue Lucky
Eighteen and a half years ago, my wife and I took our sons to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to pick up our cat from a British Shorthair breeder. When she …

This is my cat Gucci, who is 1 yrs old and he is a very loving cat who is a big part in our family. I have 2 daughters who are 11 yrs old & 4 yrs old who …

Molly our British Shorthair
Molly our British Shorthair is particularly lovely. Very playful although she is 9, and also very loving. She enjoys the company of humans and will follow …

British Shorthairs Florence and Pruenella
I have 2 British shorthair cats and they are sisters who are just over the age of two. I had never owned a cat before and after some research we decided …

British Shorthair Health
As mentioned, British Shorthair health is generally good. This page is an addendum to health issues mentioned on the main British Shorthair cat page . Two …

“Violets” British Shorthairs in South Africa
Hi….My name is Alan Edwards. I am a Southern Africa Cat Council “all-breed” judge and also “a-b” for the World Cat Federation. I have been breeding …

Alfie! My British Shorthair Cat
I went to my first cat show and this is the picture you took of not only mine but my kitten’s first show! He is now a PR. This picture of him is at 5 months!…

Zenith the Rehabilitator!
My partner and I went to a shelter to get two kittens. One was a lovely black and white short haired domestic/moggie which my partner called Zenith. The …

Our Brit Female is Named Velvet
I began volunteering November 08 at a local animal shelter and a major part of the duties includes socializing the cats. Velvet had been there since October….

My British Shorthair Nico
My British Shorthair, Nico, was a rescue cat from a horrible pet shop. Nico was already 6 months old and had grown up alone in a small cage before we …

Chester & Bailey Not rated yet
I bought a Blue Point British Shorthair last year and he is so gorgeous, and about 6 weeks later, from the same breeder we bought a Blue Self, we wanted …

Our Dickie Not rated yet
Not sure how old he is,was given him about 4 years ago, he loves dogs, but not other cats.

Hi : Thanks for showing us Dickie. I have lightened the …

Dibbs our Blue British Shorthair Not rated yet
We have a blue boy called Dibbs. He is just delightful. We are thinking of getting another boy. How well will they live together? Dibbs is 3 1/2 months …

British Longhair Cat Not rated yet
The British Longhair cat is a rare cat. Helmi Flick has just sent me some pictures of a simply beautiful cat of this breed, Robyn, and as usual Helmi …

British Shorthair cat – Breeders – clubs

{Selected on their Google search listing ranking in descending order – first 2 pages only and not part of a directory. Note this please: sometimes I might leave out the cat breeds name from the cattery title for search engine optimization reasons only}

LazyBlues British Shorthairs
Located in White Plains NY, USA.

Benfields British Shorthair cats
Located in Severna park, Maryland, USA.

Empire of Glamour Cattery
Small breeders specialized in British Shorthair Blue, Cream, Lilac, Lilac&Cream and Blue & Cream. Located in Chàteauguay (QC), Canada.

Located in South Woodford, London, E18 1DR, run by Laura Cooper
Small breeder specializing in Blue, Lilac, Cream, and Blue/Cream. Black and Tortie sometimes available.

Located UK – Lasham, East Hampshire. J6 M3 or A31/A339 Basingstoke to Alton

A very old and venerable cat club needs to be mentioned as well. This is a club calling itself “Short-haired Cat Society“. This was formerly called the “Short Haired Cat Society and Manx Club”. They are the first pedigree cat club in the world for native shorthaired cats. They were formed in 1901, the early days of the cat fancy and are still going. They are a founder member of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) the premier cat association in the UK. The purpose of the club at its formation was to champion the British Shorthair cat. They are now involved in more cat breeds.

British Shorthair Cat

This is Teddy, my 8 month old BS and I loooooove him to bits. He’s so lively and playful and loves rolling on his back ever since he was a tiny kitten and having his tummy tickled. I can’t imagine life without my little Teddy…Anne (London, UK)

British Shorthair cat – Sources:

  • 1. Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats edited by Dr Ross D Clark DVM
  • 2. Legacy of the Cat by Gloria Stephens and Tetsu 2nd edition – page 64. Published by CHRONICLE BOOKS, San Francisco. ISBN: 0-8118-2910-3 – highly recommended.
  • 3. The Encyclopedia of the Cat (Encyclopaedia of) by Dr Bruce Fogle – pages 112 and 113. Published by DK. ISBN: 978 1 4053 2149 5. A fine book.
  • Cat Fanciers
  • Wikipedia
  • CFA
  • Breeder sites
  • Myself
  • Helmi Fick

Photograph of cat taken in the late 1800s. The copyright is taken as being expired due to effluxion of time. If this can be established to be incorrect it will be removed quickly.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

8 thoughts on “British Shorthair Cat”

  1. Earl Grey’s full name is Laziblues Earl Grey, and he still lives with us as part of our Laziblues Cattery family. He was not named after tea, but after the British Prime Minister who lifted the embargo on tea, and allowed a more cheap tea to enter the UK market.
    Love his pictures as a baby here. Thank you Helmi!

  2. This is very interesting, You are an overly professional blogger. I’ve joined your feed and stay up for in the hunt for extra of your great post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

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