British Shorthair Cat Or European Shorthair Cat Breed Temperaments


The British Shorthair or European Shorthair is probably the oldest English breed and one whose ancestors came to Europe and Britain with the Roman soldiers. The Romans used these cats to protect their food supplies from rodents and as companions. The British and European Shorthair cats are identical and the name just reflects where you live. In Britain and North America we refer to them as British Shorthairs or Brits. The founder of the British cat fancy, Harrison Weir, is largely responsible for turning the domestic British cat into a recognized breed. He organized the first cat fancy show in 1871 which was dominated by the British Shorthairs. However by the turn of the century the Persians began to dominate and by the Second World War the British Shorthairs were in short supply. Some cross-breeding to Persians was introduced to save the breed and some hint of the Persian can still be seen in the Brit’s head shape. By the 1950’s out-crossing to Persians stopped because the supply of British Shorthairs had recovered. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) granted championship status to the Brit about 1980. The British Shorthair is relatively uncommon in the US with the British Blue being one of the most popular. However, the breed is gaining popularity in the US as animal trainers for commercials and movies are using more Brits because of their intelligence and laid-back attitude. The Brits are easily recognized by their plush coat and built-in smile created by their prominent whisker pads.

Cat size Medium/Large
Exercise Moderately active requiring some exercise
Grooming Minimal grooming – combing once per week
Temperament Easy going and affectionate

British Shorthair Cat Characteristics


The British Shorthair is a medium to large sized cat breed with a compact build and a short plush coat. Male Brits weigh from 12 to 18 pounds with females quite a bit smaller. British Shorthairs have a large round face set on a short thick neck and a powerful body with short legs. The Brit has large, round eyes that are set fairly wide apart. Colors vary with coat color – silver Brits will have green to hazel eyes, pointed Brits will have blue eyes, solid whites can have blue, gold or odd eyes, shaded silver and shaded gold have green eyes and most other colors have gold to copper eyes. The ears are medium size, broad at the base with rounded tips. It takes this breed a long time to mature and cats will take 4 to 5 years to fully thicken and fill out. The coat is unique in being short and very dense with a plush feel somewhat like a deep pile carpet

Color Varieties

The initial attraction of the Brit was in its “self” or solid colors that at the time were quite rare in other breeds. These original self colors were British Blue (bluish-grey), Black and White. Other solid colors added later include Cream and Red. British Shorthair Tabbies all have clearly defined markings with good contrast between the dark and light areas and come in the Classic or Blotched Tabby as well as the Mackerel Tabby and Spotted Tabby. These three basic tabby patterns appear in a wide variety of colors including brown, red, silver, blue and cream. Tortoiseshell patterns are difficult to breed as the gene is only passed in the female line and in the US is usually characterized by black, red, and pale cream patches. Blue-cream is a dilute version of the Tortoiseshell and there is also a Calico Brit with bold patches of black, cream and red on a white body and a dilute Calico with patches of blue and cream on white. There are also Bi-color Brits with even color patches on a white background and Black and Blue Smokes and Tipped colorings with a light tipping at the end of any of the solid colors.



British Shorthairs are easy-going and affectionate and like to follow you around the house until they can sit beside you. These are not lap cats and do not demand a lot of attention until you are ready to play. Brits are calm and quiet companions with lots of patience. They get along with other animals in the home and adapt well to small or large households. British Shorthairs get along very well with children, and children love these plush smiling friends. Brits make great apartments cats, being alert and playful without being destructive. Brits become quite sedentary after the age of 4 or 5. Brits are quiet cats that don’t talk too much.

Cat Care

British Shorthairs are very healthy and can live from 15 to 20 years if given sufficient exercise and a healthy diet. Brits have a tendency to put on weight after they fully mature and should be fed a calorie restricted diet and encouraged to play more if they are putting on weight. The short plush coat is easy to groom and a once per week combing with a steel comb keeps the coat neat.


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