Feline focus: The British Shorthair

The British Shorthair cat breed is rumoured to have originated from domestic cats in Rome (which were brought to Britain during the Roman invasion) and was noted for its physicality and hunting skills. These days, the British Shorthair is a domesticated cat, whose distinctive features have made them a firm favourite at cat shows. Selective breeding has resulted in the various coat colours and patterns that characterise the modern breed.


British Shorthair cats have a distinctive round-shaped head with chubby, chipmunk-esque cheeks and large, round and wide set eyes. The eyes can be a range of different colours but will often be copper or gold, as is the case for the “British Blue” variety.

The “British Blue” variety has arguably been the most popular and well known example of the British Shorthair breed but their fur can be a range of colours and patterns. Self Coloured British Shorthairs are one single colour, which can be white, black, chocolate, red, blue or cream. Other variations include the Tabby, Classic, Mackerel and Spotted.

The frame is large and muscular with a broad chest and shoulders, short legs, round paws and a plush, blunt-tipped tail. Generally speaking, they will not grow to their full size until around three years of age.

There is a definite and obvious size difference between males and females, and this is more evident compared to many other breeds.

Temperament and Behaviour

The British Shorthair cat is an easy-going breed that can easily adapt to indoor living and will usually be highly tolerant of children. However, they’re not keen on being picked up or carried around. They’re not overly curious or adventurous and can prove to be a great choice for pet owners who live in a flat. Because they don’t continuously demand attention from their owners, they’re often happy to be left home alone.

British Shorthair cats are not typically attention seeking and are not as vocal as many other breeds. They’re very affectionate cats and become firmly attached to their owners.

They aren’t a high maintenance breed and you shouldn’t need to spend much time on grooming. Their fur is short and dense and does not matt or tangle easily. However, it’s a good idea to brush during shedding season as hairballs could otherwise prove problematic.

Health and cat insurance

The typical lifespan can be anything from 9 to 15 years of age. Generally speaking, this breed can be expected to live into their teenage years and can sometimes exceed this.

The British Shorthair is a healthy breed for the most part. There are no known conditions that are specific to the breed but as with any breed, it’s strongly advisable to make sure that your pet gets regular health checks and that you consider putting a pet insurance policy in place to protect you against unexpected vet fees. British Shorthair kittens can benefit from four weeks’ free kitten insurance with our WalkawayCover*.

*Kitten must be between 8 weeks and 1 year old and is subject to a CVS health check. WalkawayCover covers illness and accidents.

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