British Short Hair

The British Shorthair is a medium/large-sized cat breed with a broad chest, short, muscular legs, round paws and a thick tail. Its head is round with large eyes and a short but broad nose.

The British Shorthair’s single coat is short and dense yet plush in texture. Blue tends to be the most popular and well-known coat colour, but British Shorthairs can also come in black, white, red, cream, silver, golden, tortoiseshell, cinnamon and fawn (and some associations accept chocolate and lilac); these colours may come in solid, colourpoint, tabby, shaded or bicolour. Their eyes can come in deep gold, orange or copper.

British Shorthairs tend to be rather large cats, usually weighing around 7 kg, though some can weigh as little as 4 kg and some as much as 9 kg. They stand between 30 and 35.5 cm tall. The lifespan of the British Shorthair is 14 to 20 years.

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Personality and Temperament

Frequently referred to as “gentle giants”, British Shorthairs are easy-going, friendly and affectionate cats that make great family companions. They’re loyal and will follow their owners wherever they go, but they are not desperate for attention and are quite quiet.

Very energetic and playful as kittens, British Shorthairs tend to calm down around the age of 1, and as they become older can become couch potatoes.

They are more suited to being indoor cats as they do not possess the curiosity of other breeds that so often gets them into trouble, nor are they likely to wander off.

Common British Short Hair Diseases & Conditions

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This inherited disease is difficult to diagnose and often the first symptom is sudden death. It is caused by the thickening of the heart’s walls. It mostly affects older male cats, but can occur in younger cats too. Some cases may not be lethal and can be treated with medication if diagnosed via an echocardiogram. Signs of this disease include anorexia, lethargy, difficulty breathing, coughing, fainting and paralysis of the legs; however some cats may show no symptoms.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease. PKD is a condition that is inherited and symptoms can start to show at a young age. Polycystic Kidney Disease causes cysts of fluid to form in the kidneys, obstructing them from functioning properly. It can cause chronic renal failure if not detected. Look for symptoms like poor appetite, vomiting, drinking excessively, frequent urination, lethargy and depression. Ultrasounds are the best way to diagnose the disease, and some cats can be treated with diet, medication and hormone therapy.
  • Gum Disease. British Shorthairs can be prone to gum diseases and should be examined regularly as some gum diseases can be potentially life-threatening. Their teeth should also be brushed frequently to prevent periodontitis, which can lead to kidney and heart problems.

Not all conditions are covered by Pet Insurance. For details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover, refer to the Product Disclosure Statement.

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The British Shorthair originated in city streets around Britain in the 19th century. A man named Harrison Weir is credited with the creation of the breed we see today. He was very fond of the cat and selected the strongest ones he could find and began to breed them.

In the 1890s, however, due to the importation of Persian Cats and other exotic breeds, the Shorthair dropped in popularity almost to the point of extinction. Modern British Shorthairs may share Persian or Russian Blue DNA having been bred with them to help the breed survive.

The breed was first recognised by the Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association by the late 1970s and as of 2013 it is ranked as the 5th most popular cat breed in the US.

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British Short Hair Facts!

  • The Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is based on a British Shorthair.
  • The Whiskas cat food brand uses a British Shorthair as its mascot.
  • British Shorthairs have appeared in Desperate HousewivesGarfield: The Movie and Girl, Interrupted.
  • A British Shorthair named Tsim Tung Brother Cream is a famous cat living in a convenience store in Hong Kong. He has over 175,000 likes on Facebook.

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