The British Shorthair (also referred to as the European Shorthair) is a domesticated cat that is said to resemble a teddy bear. Its features make it a popular breed in cat shows. It has been the most popular breed of cat registered by the UK's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) since 1999 when it overtook the Siamese breed.
The British Shorthair is the descendant of cats brought to Britain by the Romans which then interbred with wild native cats. Later they were crossbred with Persian Cats to improve the thickness of their coat. The breed was defined in the nineteenth century and British Shorthairs were shown at the 1871 Crystal Palace cat show. The popularity of the breed had declined by the 1940s, but since the end of the second world war breeding programs have intensified and the breed's popularity is high once again. The first British Shorthairs arrived in Australia in 1968. Breeding under the prefix Redwyton, Tops and Trevor Jowett imported a blue breeding pair. One of the largest online resources for British Shorthair pedigree information is Pawpeds. The free database maintained by Hanny Olsen contains records for nearly 39,000 cats dating back to the beginning of the Cat Fancy we know today.
British Shorthairs have very dense, plush coats that are often described as crisp or cracking, which refers to the way the coat breaks over the cat's body contours. Eyes are large, round and copper in colour. They have round heads with full, chubby cheeks and a body that is rounded and sturdy. British Shorthairs are large and muscular, and are described as having a cobby build. The breed has a broad chest, shoulders and hips with short legs, round paws and a plush but not fluffy tail. These are the characteristics listed in most governing bodies breeds standards to which show cats must conform.
The males of this breed are larger than
the females, and the size difference between them is more easily noticed
compared to other breeds. As with many breeds the adult males may also
develop prominent cheek jowls that distinguish them from their female
counterparts. The typical lifespan of this breed is 14 to 20 years.
British Shorthairs come in many colors. For many years the more popular blue variant was common enough to have a breed name of its own: the 'British Blue'. It remains one of the most popular colors in the breed, however there are now a large variety of other color and pattern variations accepted by most feline governing bodies and associations. These include the colors black, white, red, cream, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn as well as the colorpoint, tabby and bicolor patterns. All colors and patterns also come in the tortoiseshell pattern which is a combination of red and cream with other colors. Chocolate, and its dilute form, lilac are recently developed colors. The British lilac is described as having a pink-grey coat. Even newer are British Shorthair cats in cinnamon, and its dilute form, fawn. British are also bred in a shadded (tipped) coat pattern, in both the silver and the golden form.
The British Shorthair is an easygoing breed. It has a stable character and can easily live in an apartment setting. It is not terribly demanding of attention, although it will make its desire for play known if its owner looks available. It is not normally destructive or hyperactive, although it can be playful.
It has become a favourite of animal trainers because of its nature and intelligence, and in recent years these cats have appeared in Hollywood films and television commercials.
The British Shorthair does not require a lot of grooming because the fur does not tangle or mat easily. However, it is recommended that the coat be brushed now and again, especially during seasonal shedding. They can be prone to obesity when desexed or kept indoors.
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