For a big cat, with a big, loving personality, look no further than the British Shorthair.
The British Shorthair cat is thought to date back hundreds of years. And while the name would suggest otherwise, they were originally not native to Britain, but brought there by Roman troops. They were then bred in the UK and from there, spread around the globe. There have been a couple of famous British Shorthairs, most notably the one whose image has been reproduced probably millions of times courtesy of Whiskas cat food. It’s also thought Lewis Carroll based his smiling Cheshire Cat in the classic, Alice in Wonderland, on a British Shorthair.
The breed is a large and solid cat. They have a round face with full cheeks and a short and wide nose. The eyes are large and round and the ears are small and curved. They have short, stubby legs and a thick medium-length plush tail.
There are over one hundred variations in colour and pattern so there’s certainly no such thing as a standard British Shorthair. One of the most popular types is called the British Blue, with other variations including the following:
Self Coloured British Shorthair -will be a single colour (such as white, black, chocolate, lilac, blue or red) with the colour of nose and paws varying in each case. Eyes can be deep sapphire blue or deep gold, orange or copper.
Classic Tabby British Shorthair -often has a trademark ‘M’ on its head, which can give the impression it’s frowning. The Classic Tabby may be multi-coloured with stripes, rings on its tail and legs and a spotted belly and toes. The eye colour is deep gold, orange or copper.
Mackerel Tabby -has lines on its back and body in a mackerel pattern and rings on its tail, either solid or broken.
Spotted – has the same head pattern as the Classic and Mackerel tabbies however its body features oval and round spots. The tail can have lines or spots.
Tortie Tabby British Shorthair -features red and cream colouring and the eye colour is most often deep gold, orange or copper. There is a silver variety which features green or hazel eyes.
Tortoiseshell British Shorthair -red or cream colouring with a tortoiseshell pattern in blue, chocolate, lilac or black. Eyes are deep gold, orange or copper.
Bi-Colour British Shorthair -will be white and one other colour and have patches on the head, ears, cheeks, back, tail, legs and sides. Eyes are deep gold, orange or copper.
Smoke British Shorthair -has a silver undercoat and the eye colour is deep gold, orange or copper.
Tipped British Shorthair -is a silver cat with a second colour appearing on the head, back, ears, and tail. The chest and belly are pale. Eyes are deep gold, orange or copper except in a black tipped cat, which has green eyes.
Colourpointed British Shorthair – The colourpoint has a pale body and dark tips, with colour variations including fawn, blue, chocolate, lilac, red and cream. Colourpointed British Shorthairs have deep blue eyes.
And that’s just an edited list.
British Shorthairs are one of the easiest cats to groom. They have a short, thick coat which rarely mats or tangles. Simply brush the coat once a week to remove any loose hair and shedding will be kept to a minimum.
British Shorthair cats can weigh between 4 and 7 kg, with males tending to about 6 kg. They often live into their mid to late teens, with the lifespan usually between 14 and 20 years. Some British Shorthairs have even been known to live well into their twenties.
British shorthairs do like some exercise so make a little time for fun and games and provide them with scratching posts and toys to keep them occupied when they are in the mood to play. The British Shorthair is a relatively healthy cat however can on occasion suffer from dental problems and/or and liver and kidney malfunction. An annual health check is advisable (as with most cats). This is one cat that is prone to obesity so it’s also worth keeping a check on their diet.
The British Shorthair is something of a gentle giant. They are big and lovable and love nothing better than sharing their love with their adored owners. They tend to be good with children and with other animals so can make fabulous family pets. They are great indoor cats, but can be let outside as they don’t tend to roam a lot. Nor do they get into much trouble as they aren’t particularly curious, and are quite content to lie around and be left to their own devices if needed. The British Shorthair is not likely to follow you around demanding attention.
The British Shorthair is usually well suited to families with children, so if you are after an easygoing family pet that will get on well with the children and give you lots of affection, its definitely worth considering.