British Shorthair

It is difficult to say precisely when "domestic" cats first arrived in Britain. One school of thought suggests that the breed we now call the British Shorthair arrived in this country with the invading Roman troops, somewhere between the 1st and 4th century A.D. Another suggestion is that they are simply a domesticated variety of the indigenous wild cat, which still exists today but is rarely seen outside the Scottish highlands. Even there, the numbers are rapidly diminishing.

When cat shows first became popular, the most commonly colored shorthairs were white, black, black and white and tabby. Little did she realize how popular this variety would become. What she dismissed as a humble, "common" cat today ranks second only to the Persian in registration figures and is available in a multitude of different colors and patterns. It is undoubtedly a well-respected and acknowledged breed worldwide. The only variety in this group that impressed Frances Simpson in any way was the Manx — currently the least numerous of any of the recognized breeds. How times have changed!

The British Shorthair has seen many changes since these early days, and today it appears to bear little resemblance to the native mixed breed. Breeders have sought to improve the type, and this has given a compact and chunky cat that is also the breed most often chosen to advertise cat food.

Sweet natured and affectionate, British Shorthairs have been eloquently described by one breeder of these cats as "the next best thing to a fireside moggie!" With their thick, plush coats and rounded shape, they are the real teddy bears of the cat world.


The gene for short hair dominates over that for long hair — most "mongrel" cats have short fur — and this helps explain the origins of the modern pedigree British Shorthair.

Similarly, short-coated cats are found throughout Europe and in the U.S., and have given rise to the European and American Shorthairs. Along with the imported Persian and Siamese breeds, these indigenous shorthairs were first seen at the early cat shows that took place at the turn of the nineteenth century, and they provided the basic gene pool for the breed that is now recognized as the British Shorthair.


This is a chunky, sturdy and muscular breed, the males being noticeably larger than the females. The British has a broad chest, with short, stocky legs and a short, round-tipped tail. The head is broad and well rounded, with small, neat, wide-set ears.

Male British should also show distinct "jowls" around the cheeks. The eyes are lustrous, usually a deep orange or copper color, reflecting the coat color (though there are some exceptions). The coat is short, crisp, dense and plush. The overall look of the British should be of a cobby cat, but without the extreme facial conformation of the Persian or Exotic.

Origin: Britain (U.S.A.)

Grooming: 4/5

Activity: 2/5

GCCF Group: British Shorthairs


It is warm and loving. This is an all-around cat, meaning that it is comfortable in environments where there are not a lot of people around and also in environments where a family can spend a lot of time with it.

This cat is fine when left alone for the day. Just remember to leave out the basics for this cat; some food, water and a litter box.

"Laidback" pretty much sums up this breed, though there are some exceptions, such as the Silver Tabbies and Himalayan varieties. The British Shorthair is not one of the most active of pedigree breeds. Some might even call it lazy. In general, these are big, friendly, purring machines that will like nothing better than to doze on a comfy lap.

Suitability as a pet

The British Shorthair make an ideal pet for any household as nothing seems to faze them. They are equally at home with a single person as with a household full of other pets and children. They are low maintenance; they don't demand constant attention and entertainment. However, their dense coats shed quite heavily, especially in the warmer months, so they do require regular grooming. This is especially so in the case of the Manx, which has an unusual double coat.

Gallery of British Shorthair