Whether you are a cat person or not, the distinctive features of a British shorthair cat are sure to catch your eye. With the diverse range of hues and patterns that don their coats, as well as their stocky build, these cats are pretty hard to miss. This, in addition to a range of other characteristics and attributes, makes this one of the most endearing breeds out there. For anyone looking to find out more about the British Shorthair cat in all its glory, here is an extensive look at their characteristics; the quirks, perks and everything in between.
History of the British Shorthair Cat
This particular breed has been around for quite some time, their origin dates back a whopping 2000 years ago. Although they are named after a place, their existence cannot solely be credited to the region. It all started with the Romans who brought cats into Britain to be used as master exterminators. See, while they were occupying the nation, they happened to be confronted by a pesky rodent and vermin problem. They experienced this both on and offshore and as such decided to do something about it.
In response to that, they acquired some domesticated cats from another one of their conquests, Egypt, and let them go to town on the pests. What they did not account for was for the domesticated cats to mingle and even socialize with the local British wildcats. No one could have connected those dots, considering the fact that the two were different in a number of ramifications. First, the local cats had larger and more muscular builds thanks to the fact that they had to brave it out in the wild. Additionally, they were a lot more aggressive and primal in behavior. Till date, the British wildcat is still considered an untamable breed, but that is beside the point.
Even though they were as different as the day and night, the two still managed to mate. Since they were basically from the same gene pool, this union resulted in kittens. Thankfully, their spawn was not some sort of abomination, rather a robust shorthaired kitten was born. The wonderful part of this all is that they somehow formed a smooth blend of the British Wildcat and the Egyptian domesticated cat. On the one hand, they were keen hunters like their British ancestors and on the other, they were a lot more amiable to humans. Based on the second part, these cats became the first domesticated felines in Britain.
Through the ages, this new breed became an unsung hero in Britain. They used their hunting skills to exterminate vermin and rodents that would have caused a widespread of diseases. So, by the time the domestication of animals in Britain became popular (17th/18th century), it was no surprise that humans took well to these felines. As time passed on, the British Shorthair cat began to develop as a distinctive breed, they were stocky, with thick coats to ensure that they could brave the adverse weather conditions of the region.
Nevertheless, it was not until the 1800’s that they were definitively regarded as the British Shorthair breed. Selective breeding of pets was fast becoming a popular practice among the Victorian upper class and a man named Harrison Weir took advantage of that. The man, known as the father of the cat fancy, played a huge role in ensuring that the breed was recognized as a real pedigree line.
Quick Facts About the British Shorthair Cat
- The British Shorthair Cat is known for being Independent
Though this is one of the most amiable and loving feline breeds out there, some people regard them as aloof on account of their need for independence. They bear very little difference to dogs when it comes to their ability to socialize and warm up to guests and strangers. Once they establish a connection with someone, that bond remains untethered. In fact, once a connection is formed, they tend to hang around the person in a fun, playful and almost supervisory manner. So, in a normal setting, it is not strange to find that they watch over while you do your household chores or perform certain tasks around the house. Some of them are quite frugal with their supervisory nature while others tend to reserve this for a select group of people. All in all, as much as they crave to be independent from time to time, there’s hardly a friendlier breed out there.
- British Shorthairs Are Low-Energy Felines
Once they outgrow that stage of youthful exuberance, these cats tend to slow down a bit more and stick to low-energy tasks. This may not be 100% a bad thing due to the fact that they grow into clumsy animals who can hardly stay on their feet if they attempt to run. Years of leading non-violent lives have taken a toll on them and this has taken a direct toll on their energy levels. Do not be mistaken, they do have some days when nothing can keep them down, but in general, they tend to lounge about. Though they are not quite physical stirred, they do enjoy mental stimulation and are quite easy to train. So, do not be surprised when they master the use of the litterbox among other in-house behavior in the blink of an eye. Additionally, they enjoy playing with toys, deciphering puzzles and can even perform a couple of tricks the way their canine counterparts do.
This laid back and good-natured attribute of theirs makes them the perfect companions for young’ uns. Their amiability also extends to other animals, given that they are not beneath them on the food chain. It is advisable to refrain from trying to pair them with rabbits, mice, gerbils, fish and the rest. It simply activates the otherwise dormant primal nature they inherited from their wildcat ancestors. Note that they will not get accustomed to their presence and will never stop seeing them as food.
- They Thrive on Routine
Their minds and systems seemingly function like clockwork, from mealtimes to grooming time, they have it all locked down. Over time, they seem to remember exactly what happens at a certain point in the day and they adjust accordingly. So, for instance, you would have them know exactly when their owner tends to leave for work as well as when they would be back. Unlike dogs who may manifest their separation anxiety by sitting by the door waiting for their owners return these felines act differently. It is not strange to find them going about their daily business and simply strolling to the door when they realize their owner should be back. This among many other attributes makes them quite the low maintenance breed.
- They Express Intimacy Differently
As aloof as cats can be at times, they do love human contact and appreciate some good old lap time. This is one of the fronts on which the British Shorthair cat does not thrive. Do not be mistaken, they do love attention and human contact as much as the next cat, but they would rather not sit in anyone’s lap. If you were to put them up on your lap after a few minutes they would simply get off after a few minutes or seconds. This is one of the ways in which these cats express their independence, but is often viewed as aloofness or dislike. The fact of the matter is that they do not like to be touched as much as some other felines. In fact, they are a lot more patient and tolerant than most breeds. They will allow touching and stroking, even being carried for a while but will not hesitate to lash out when it becomes unbearable. It is advisable for people, owners, and strangers alike, to pick up on these signs and act accordingly.
They have a plethora of other ways to express their love and affection, a British Shorthair cat may not want to sit on your lap, but they do enjoy being close to people they love. Often, they are found sitting nearby giving out cat kisses which are quite different from human kisses. This is when a cat gazes at a person and slowly blinks their eyes in the process. It is in a cat’s nature to be untrusting, that is why they tend to hide away when they are sick and hurt. So, the act of closing their eyes in your presence means that they trust you and know that you would never do a thing to harm them. Another way they show love and affection is through headbutting, make no mistake, this is far from the violent version humans indulge in. This simply occurs when the cat butts its head against a part of your body, it could be a leg or an arm. Again, the cat cannot see you while doing this and as such, it expresses the trust they have in the receiver.
- They Love to Play and Be Engaged
This may not be the most active feline breed out there, but they love to play with their owners and people they care about. Playing with a British shorthair cat is a sure way to let them know that they are loved. Nevertheless, this is not the only reason it is advisable to play with them. Usually, a bored cat is a destructive cat, but when it comes to this breed, boredom leads to all-around complacency. The fact that they do not do much simply means they hardly exercise on their own and as such are at a high risk of becoming overweight. In this case, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the owner to ensure that they lead a healthy life.
Just like other felines, they possess a powerful prey response, and as such, it is advisable to make use of games that move along those lines. Teaser toys, laser lights and anything they can chase around will work positive wonders in the life of a British Shorthair cat. In addition to providing them with some physical stimulation here and there, it is equally advisable to foster a feline-friendly environment. Get them the right equipment and accessories, things like litterboxes are a given, but also ensure that they have access to a scratching post. If not, get ready for some of your best furniture to become a makeshift scratching post.
- They Pack a Mean ‘Purr’
The soft natured demeanor of this cat is reflected in its almost in inaudible meow. They are generally known to have one of the softest and quietest meows out there. Nevertheless, their purr is out of this world and they have even received global recognition for it. A British Shorthair cat known as Smokey holds the world record for the world’s loudest purr. This gray and white Shorthair’s purr apparently reached a record-breaking 67.7 decibels in total. The crazy part of this all is that Smokey could purr even louder than that. According to her owner, she could reach up to 90 decibels which is practically as loud as a land mower. For a whopping four year, Smokey held the record, the current holder is a cat named Merlin.
Vital Things You Should Know About the British Shorthair Cat
As much as being a mixed breed feline has its perks, it also has its downsides in the form of breed-specific health issues. The British Shorthair cat is no exception to this and is susceptible to a number of health problems. Some of the diseases that plague this breed are Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), Cystitis, Hemophilia B, and Hyperthyroidism. Some of these diseases are more fatal than the others, nevertheless, they all pose a great risk. Some, like Polycystic Kidney Disease, are quite deadly because there are no symptoms early on. The renal functions slowly shut down and ultimately it leads to death. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of ground to be covered here in terms of research, nevertheless, the frequency of the disease has reduced over time.
For all cats, pets and living things as a whole, the value of a healthy diet cannot go unnoticed. Thanks to most of the diseases they are susceptible to, this breed needs a healthy diet even more so. Some cats can get away with free-feeding and other fads, but not the British Shorthair cat, they need a well-structured diet to ensure that they live a long, healthy life. For the first few months of their life, you do not really need to worry about limiting their diet as long as it consists of healthy food. They pretty much eat as little as can be because their tiny stomach cannot accommodate that much. But once they are all grown up, portion control is the watchword. In terms of the actual cat food, go for grain-free cat options which are high in protein yet low in fat content. Equally ensure that treats and snacks are given sparingly, while also going for low-fat options.
Care is something that does not vary across breeds, these cats pretty much receive the same kind of care that other cats do. First, you need to ensure that your pet is registered at the vet, he/she should have medical records which can be consulted when the need arises. It also needs to be determined whether your cat needs to be spayed or neutered. In addition to this, it is highly advisable to brush your cat’s teeth. This may not pose as the easiest feat but is incredibly necessary for their dental health. To make it altogether pleasant, look for fun and delicious toothpaste flavors. To crown it all up, be on the lookout for skin problems, irritations, and wounds. They could stem from fleas and even allergies, the best thing to do is to notice them fast so as to get to the bottom of the problem.
Thanks to the fact that they are not the most active breed out there, the British Shorthair cat does not need much grooming. Nevertheless, it is important to take care of their teeth, nose, nails, fur, and eyes. Brushing your cat’s fur serves as an avenue to check for any irritations and infections. Simply brush the hair in the direction of growth and pay attention to their reaction while looking for any bites or irritations. Clipping their nails can pose quite a challenge, but it is necessary, make sure they are accustomed to their clippers before using it on them. To get the job done correctly and safely, place the cat on your lap and face them away from you. In addition to all this, check their ears, nose, and eyes on a regular basis.
No pet is perfect, but there is no doubt that the British Shorthair cat comes pretty close to the mark. Not only are they as low maintenance as can be, but they are also friendly and easy to relate with once you know more about them. The fact that they get along with children and most household pets just makes them even more attractive as a choice of pet. You do not have to worry about issues like anxiety with this all-around cheerful breed, in fact, they may be able to help you work out some of your issues. All in all, they are easy to take care of and live a long healthy life if they are well taken care of.
- British Shorthair – Pet MD