Besides being a beautiful cat and a great companion, the British Shorthair also has a remarkable history of survival and success. The British Shorthair set the way for the current breeding program, with the refinement of the breed starting in Britain - hence the name "British Shorthair". The British Shorthair was the reason and start of cat shows.
It was in the late 1800s that cat fancier Harrison Weir was seeking to bring other shorthair breeders together so that the best of the Shorthair breed could be displayed and judged, and so that the breed could be strengthened and cultivated through thoughtful pairings. The first cat show was held on July 13, 1871 at the Crystal Palace of London. The success of this show and subsequent competitions proved to be extremely popular, and created a place in history for Harrison Weir as the father of the cat fancy
The Shorthair's arrival in Britain is tied to the Roman invasions that commonly occurred during the reign of the Roman Empire. The Shorthair was admired for their strength, endurance, hunting skills, and general good nature. Over time, the Shorthair came to be regarded as more than just a working cat, and was welcomed into the home as well. The Shorthair became so commonplace in British life, and its “smile” was so well known, that it inspired John Tenniel to create the Cheshire Cat for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865.
During the First World War the population of the Shorthair was severely diminished (as was much of the animal population). Following the war, in an effort to restore the breed, breeders attempted to incorporate the Persian breed with the remaining Shorthairs. Thankfully, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy would not allow it and instead demanded that breeders return the breed to its original form. It would take three generations of breeding back to Shorthairs to make the cats eligible for registration as pedigrees again. This cycle repeated following the Second World War. This time the remaining numbers of Shorthairs was even more dire than before and circumstances demanded that permission be granted from the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy to cross the British Shorthair with other breeds.
Permission was granted, and through careful selection, outcrosses with breeds such as the Russian Blue, Chartreux, and Persian brought the British Shorthair back but with some changes to it's appearance. The British Shorthair now donned a teddy bear look, with a stout body, full whisker pads, a naturally upturned mouth, and round, wide-open eyes. The mild disposition that the breed had been known for was retained . The luxurious coat of fur was enhanced with greater softness from the carefully chosen crossings.
The British Shorthair remains popular as a family companion in Europe. It's numbers in the U.S. were not significant enough to be considered for registration by the American Cat Fanciers Association until 1970, when the Blue British Shorthair was registered.
Though initially hesitant, the British Shorthair warms up to people once it becomes familiar with them, and it bonds closely with its human companions. It will show loyalty to all the members of the family, rather than just one person, making it the perfect family pet. It does well with children, showing patience and affection. It also adapts well to changes in the home. It has an independent nature and thrives well even when left alone. It is not likely to get involved with high energy activities once it has left kitten-hood. The Shorthair is also known for being particularly quiet, using its voice only when it needs something from you.
Because of its easy-going nature and intelligence, the British Shorthair Cat has become a favorite of animal trainers, and in recent years many examples of these cats have appeared in Hollywood films and television commercials.
You can expect your Shorthair to be good tempered, with a stable personality, and stable patterns of behavior.
The British Shorthair Breed is a compact, well-balanced and powerful, showing good depth of body, a full broad chest, short to medium strong legs, rounded paws, tail thick at base with a rounded tip. The head is round with good width between the ears,round cheeks, firm chin, medium ears, large round and well opened eyes, and a medium broad nose. The coat is short and very dense. Females are less massive in all respects with males having larger jowls. This breed takes a full 3-5 years to reach full maturity and development. Individuals should convey an overall impression of balance and proportion in which no feature is exaggerated to foster weakness or extremes.
Care and Feeding
Maintaining the British Shorthair coat in top condition is easy as the coat does not tangle. A quick comb through easily removes any loose dead hair. A little extra combing in the spring and fall ensures seasonal coat changes do not leave any dead hair to turn into mats. The British Longhair coat takes more work but a daily combing prevents any tangles . It is a good idea to bathe your British Longhair regularly to keep the coat in peak condition. If you plan to bathe your cat, start when the kitten is young and maintain a regular routine so the cat learns to enjoy this extra special time with you.
These cats love food and with their sedentary ways can quickly gain weight so it is important to keep a careful eye on their portions to make sure they do not get fat. They are a heavy, solid cat ranging from 9 to 18 pounds but that weight should come from their massive muscular bodies, not from an excess of food. Encourainge them to play, burns calories off while toning muscles: Teaser toys provide lots of gymnastic entertainment; training your cat to fetch adds running to their day; and chasing a laser light pen gives their muscles a real work out.