British Shorthair Cats

The Bulldog of the Cat World

The British shorthair cat has made its presence known. Not only is it one of the most popular cat breeds, it is also commonly selected to appear on TV, in movies and even in books.

You might recognize the cat in many Whiskas brand ads as a British shorthair. The cat raised from the dead in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (“Winston Churchill”) was a British shorthair, as was “Arlene” in Garfield: The Movie and the “Cheshire Cat” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, just to name a few.

What is it about the British shorthair that has made it so in demand?

British Shorthair

It is believed that the Romans brought the British shorthair to England during the first century, at which time the breed co-existed and bred with wild cats native to England.

Hundreds of years later, the British shorthair was crossbred with Persian cats, slightly changing the look of the cat and improving the thickness of its fur coat.

By the late 19th century, the breed was very popular, although its existence was threatened—as were many dog and cat breeds—during World War II.

Since 2001, the British shorthair cat has been the most popular breed in the United Kingdom.

British shorthair cats are known to be a bit on the independent side, often choosing to sit near their owners rather than on their owners’ laps. They are also known to find a spot on which to perch and observe goings-on within the house for long periods of time.

While the British shorthair cat may not be the most social of cat breeds, it does like to play with typical cat toys and will let its family know when it wants some attention and chin rubs. Many British shorthair cat owners note that the breed becomes vocal when playing or when waiting for dinner to be served.

An intelligent breed, it can learn new tricks quite easily and can be trained to fetch, amongst other things.

British Shorthair

One of the British shorthair cat’s most notable features is its fur coat. Dense and plush, the breed was crossbred with the Persian breed to achieve its thickness. While these cats don’t require a lot of routine grooming since their fur doesn’t easily tangle, it is recommended that you brush your cat’s coat occasionally during seasonal shedding.

Also recognized for its round, chubby-checked face and copper-gold eyes, the British shorthair cat can be one of a variety of colors: Black, white, red, cream, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn and blue, the most popular (otherwise known as gray or silver).

The breed’s coat can be solid, tortoiseshell (a combination of red and cream mixed with other colors), colorpoint, tabby or bicolor.

The British shorthair cat was given the moniker “the bulldog of cats,” due its appearance: The breed has a square, muscular build with a broad chest, shoulders and hips, and shorter, thick legs with rounded paws. The average British shorthair can weigh between 11 and 22 pounds, with male cats on the heavier side.

British Shorthair

The British shorthair is known to be a rather healthy cat. While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your British shorthair cat will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.

  • Cardiomyopathy: A disease of the heart muscle that often results in congestive heart failure, it is also life threatening and can result in blood clots that cause pain and acute paralysis of a cat’s rear legs. The cause of cardiomyopathy is unknown but hereditary factors are thought to play a role in development of the disorder in cats. You can have your British shorthair tested for the heart condition by a veterinary cardiologist.
  • Gingivitis: Symptoms of this periodontal disease include red and inflamed gums. It can be limited to one tooth or widespread throughout your cat’s mouth, affecting numerous teeth. Routine dental care is required to prevent the infection from spreading to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth. Without routine care, your cat’s teeth are likely to fall out and bacteria can quickly spread to other parts of the body, targeting your cat’s organs and potentially leading to organ failure.
  • Rare blood type: The average cat breed has the common Type A blood; the British shorthair, however, is known to have the rare Type B blood, which can become an issue if your cat requires a blood transfusion during a surgical procedure. It is recommended that you have your British shorthair cat’s blood type tested early on so that your veterinarian can make note in the case that it is, in fact, Type B.

As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.