British Shorthair Cat – Care, Profile & Facts

British shorthairs are among the most popular and oldest cat breeds in the world. Loved for their rounded bodies and soft, plush coats, these cats could almost be likened to living teddy bears.

They have an easy-going yet no-nonsense attitude. British shorthairs make excellent family pets and love hanging out with their owners, though they may turn up their noses when cuddled or held too much.

This gorgeous cat breed comes in different patterns and color varieties, though the traditional British shorthair cat is covered in blue fur. In this article, you find everything you needed to know about these wonderful pets.


British shorthairs are an ancient breed known to be the direct ancestors of the cats brought by Romans during the England invasion in 55 BC. The people used the cats for vermin control, and they quickly became popular as farm and street cats throughout the country.

In the late 19th century, Harrison Weir, a cat breeder and enthusiast, started crossing different cats to develop the British shorthair. In fact, a London’s Crystal Palace show in 1871 had the British shorthair on display.

After the First World War, the British shorthair cat we know today was perfected by adding domestic shorthair cats, French Chartreux, Russian blue, Persian into the mix. In the late 20th century, the British shorthair received formal recognition throughout the globe. (source)


Besides being loved for its easy-going disposition, the British shorthair is treasured for its dense, thick coat that may come in any pattern or color. Blue-gray cats, commonly known as British blues, are perhaps the most common color choice of British shorthair enthusiasts.

British shorthairs are very easy to recognize due to their rounded heads, chubby cheeks, broad chests, and thick legs. A British cat with blue coats usually has bold orange-amber eyes, while cats with other coat colors may have blue, green, amber, or copper eyes.

These beautiful cats only need weekly brushing, so their coat will be free of dirt and loose hair.

– Size and Weight

The British shorthair is a medium to large cat with females weighing between 9 and 15 pounds and males weighing between 12 and 18 pounds. They measure between 22 to 25 inches in length.

– Colors

Although the cat breed’s coat comes in almost all possible patterns and colors, the most common color is blue (gray). Sometimes, they are called British Blues.

– Lifespan

The British shorthair cat’s average lifespan is about 12 to 17 years. But with proper care, they can live up to 20 years.

Personality and Behavior

British shorthairs have excellent temperaments. They are affectionate, active, and smart, yet they don’t show off by attempting to open the door. These cats are easy-going, and they treat every member of your family (even other pet animals) as a friend, especially if they were socialized when younger.

British shorthairs take life as it comes and enjoy a good romp or stretching out in front of a TV. This happy breed enjoys attention, though it values personal space and may turn up its nose if you physically hug or hold it too much.

British shorthairs have a quiet voice, and they’re an undemanding companion. They don’t need a lap, though they love sitting close to you. Due to their large size, these cats don’t like being carried around. British shorthairs have a moderate activity level.

They’re energetic at a tender age but usually begin to settle down after reaching one year old. Older cats are couch potatoes, while fully matured males may often behave like goofballs. You’ll think they’re a herd of elephants when they run around your house.

These cats are rarely destructive: they act like a cool-headed governess, not a thug. They even welcome guests confidently.

Health Problems

The British shorthairs cat is a large and healthy breed. They can live for more than 15 years. However, they are prone to some health issues.

They can be vulnerable to a condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a muscular wall thickening of the cat’s heart), which causes loss of appetite, lethargy, and difficulty breathing in older animals.

Like other cat breeds, British shorthairs can also develop kidney and urinary tract problems. To prevent health issues from developing, begin by getting a kitten from an experienced breeder who breeds healthy cats, and ensure to take your pet to see the vet for a check-up once every year.

Also, always neuter or spay your cat and keep its vaccinations up to date.

Furthermore, you must ensure your British shorthair gets proper exercise. Due to the breed having medium energy, they can gain excess weight as they get older unless you look for ways to keep them moving and active when they’re young.

Climbing structures, lasers, fishing wands, balls, and interactive toys, can help keep the British shorthair fit mentally and physically.

Grooming and Care

British shorthairs have a short, smooth coat that is easy to groom. You can comb or brush the coat every week to eliminate dead hair.

Brushing the cat’s teeth helps to avoid periodontal disease. It would be best if it observes daily dental hygiene, but doing this weekly is better not doing it at all. Trim its nails every week. Clean the corners of the cat’s eyes and remove any discharge using a damp cloth. Use a different area of the damp cloth for each eye to avoid any chance of spreading infection.

Check the cat’s ears every week. If they’re dirty, clean them with a soft cloth moistened with warm water and cider vinegar. You can also use a cotton ball. You don’t want to use a cotton swab as it can damage the interior of your British shorthair’s ear.

The litter box must be kept clean at all times. Most cats pay much attention to bathroom hygiene.

Keeping your British shorthair indoors all the time is a great idea, as you’ll be protecting it from attacks by coyotes or dogs, diseases from other cats, and other dangers that could harm cats outdoors, like being knocked down by a vehicle.

Allowing your British shorthair to go outdoors may also cause it to be stolen.

Food and Diet

Adult cats and young kittens need slightly different diet, so here is a breakdown of what and how to feed British shorthairs:

– Feeding British Shorthair Cats

Weight gain is a major concern for these cats because they become less active as they age. That’s why you need to get a cat feed specially formulated for weight management, like Purina One Healthy Metabolism.

Ensure to follow the feeding instructions based on your pet’s weight and age or ask your vet for better guidance.

– Feeding British Shorthair Kittens

The British shorthair cat breed takes a minimum of three years to grow into full adults. In their first year, the kittens require large quantities of high-quality protein to grow than they need in adulthood.

A kittens diet should contain at least 40 % protein. Choose a feline or kitten growth formula specifically designed to meet their needs. Follow the instructions on the package and adjust the quantity when necessary.

Your breeder can also guide you on the feeding. Generally, growing kittens should be allowed to eat as much as they want.


Breeders usually make British shorthair kittens available once they reach about twelve to sixteen weeks old. At this age, they can easily bond with humans. After twelve weeks, a kitten must have had its basic inoculations, weaned, and had enough time to adjust.

Most breeders require them to remain indoors and that they are neutered/spayed. British shorthairs are rarely rescued from shelters as breeders are very diligent in placing them.

Many breeders disapprove of tendonectomy and declawing surgery. With adequate care, British shorthairs can live a long, joyful, and healthy life while bringing happiness to the family.


British shorthairs are prone to seasonal shedding in the fall and spring. During those periods, you need to brush regularly to remove any loose hairs. Weekly brushing is a great idea outside of these seasons.

Fun Facts

  • The British shorthair cat’s most popular color is blue. Other patterns and colors include black, cream, white, calico, tortoiseshell, various tabby patterns, and bi-color (one color with white). It’s eyes can be green, blue, copper, or deep gold, depending on its coat patterns or colors.
  • British shorthairs also have a special part in literature. The Cheshire Cat of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is perhaps the most popular British shorthair. No one really understands exactly where the writer got his inspiration for the cat’s smiling countenance, though some believe he got the inspiration for a church sculpture. But wherever it was from, the Cheshire Cat looked so much like a satisfied British shorthair.
  • British shorthair cats have a sturdy, stocky, square structure with short, strong legs, a short, thick tail, and a broad full chest. It wears a luxurious, plush coat that you’ll feel like rolling around in. It has a round head with chubby cheeks, round eyes, and a short nose, which combine to give it a smiling expression.
  • British shorthairs are still making appearances in brand advertisements, such as Whiskas and Prada. They’re adored by celebrities, including Sam Smith, Stefano Gabbana, and Naomi Campbell. British shorthairs also feature on social media platforms with more than three million posts about them.

Wrapping Up

Besides being lovely to behold, British shorthairs also make wonderful pets due to their friendly and easy-going disposition. Having one would definitely be fun!

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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