I’ve picked out three pictures of blue British Shorthair cats which I consider to be bred to an extreme level (I added a fourth). I think it’s instructive to have a look at these pictures of cats. The first one you might describe as monstrous. It is definitely a cat but is nothing like the purebred cat that we know as the British Shorthair. Remember that the British Shorthair originates in the standard British moggy which goes back to Roman times in Britain. This is around 200 A.D. I forget the exact date but we are going back millennia and only since about the middle of the 1800s did breeders take this regular moggy that most people know the look of and turn it into what we see below.
Some more stuff on the Brit SH….
That said, the standard purebred British SH is normally not like this. They are fairly regular in appearance but under the breed standard they are meant to be strong, muscular and powerful. This is a sturdy, medium-to-large cat with a semi-cobby torso. They are meant to have chubby cheeks which gives the cat a chipmunk-like appearance. This is perhaps the defining feature of the cat above. The blue Brit SH below is far more typical and bred normally.
And the reason for this extreme breeding originates in the breed standards of either the World Cat Federation (WCF) which governs a lot of Europe and Russia or The International Cat Association (TICA) which sets the guides for American cats. Their breed standards are quite similar and they both specifically mention cheeks. The WCF say that the cheek should be “full and pronounced” while TICA guides breeders to breed British Shorthairs with “full round chubby cheeks.”
Breeders have discretion as to how chubby the cheek should be! In my opinion they should be perhaps slightly enhanced from the normal but I don’t believe that they should look like a creature from another planet! I’m joking slightly but this is what is called extreme breeding. Breeders achieve this by selecting foundation cats with chubby cheeks and then breeding them to create litters in which the best offspring with chubby cheeks are bread back to the mother.
Selective breeding is inbreeding and it can be done with great success but there’s a limit to it otherwise you end up with what is called inbreeding depression. This means that the health of the animal is impaired.
Other examples of extreme breeding is the very flat face of the Persian cat or the canine equivalent, the French Bulldog, currently a very popular small dog because of a surge in adoptions during the coronavirus lockdown. People do like flat faces on round heads. On that topic, the head of the British Shorthair should be “broad and round”. To quote the TICA breed standard, it says that the head shape should be “round, a series of three circles to defines the head, 1st broad round muzzle, 2nd broad round head and 3rd full round chubby cheeks. Roundness is a major feature of the anatomy of the British Shorthair.
You could say that the faces at the opposite end of the spectrum are the face and head of the Oriental Shorthair and modern Siamese. You’ll also notice that the coat is very dense which is also built into the breed standard. The coat should be adapted to the cold weather of England by developing a dense short coat. It should feel like a plush rug. One of the great delights apparently is to pass your fingers through the coat of a British Shorthair.
On this page I’ve shown only grey British Shorthair cats because the original was called “British Blue” as that was the only colour the cat was shown in. Nowadays this cat comes in many different colours and patterns but apparently some organisations only recognise blue as the accepted colour. The blue British I’m told have a thicker coat than that of a black or white cats of the same breed.