British Shorthair Cats
British Shorthairs are currently the most popular pedigree cats in the UK. This is not only because Brit cats are so cute, but also because of their gentle and friendly nature. Here you can read all about this breed, from its origins, appearance, personality and care, to tips on how to raise Shorthair kittens.
Origins of British Shorthairs
It is obvious from the name of the breed that it originated in Great Britain and these cats are often simply referred to as Brit cats. As far as has been established, the breed was first exhibited at a cat show in 1871.
These cats were originally bred in response to the popularity of oriental cats at British cat shows. An Englishman thought that the typical English street cat also deserved some attention and started a breeding program.
At first the breed had a short-haired coat but they were crossed with Persian longhairs in the early part of the twentieth century. This ultimately gave rise to the British Shorthair we know today with their short, plush coat and large orange, green or blue eyes.
Some kittens are still born with long hair, because of the Persian cross. They are then classified as British Longhair cats.
After the Second World War the breed was almost impossible to find in England. Wartime put a stop to the breeding program, causing its near extinction.
The British Shorthair’s appearance
Most people easily confuse the British Shorthair with the European Shorthair, which is the more common cat breed seen across Europe. Due to the Persian cross, the British Shorthair has, besides the denser plush coat, a slightly wider head and chest, and a somewhat heavier build.
Many people feel that Shorthair kittens resemble a teddy bear because everything about the cat is so round. From their head, to their eyes and legs.
The breed has a very solid build and they grow slightly slower than most other domestic cats. They are only fully grown at three to five years of age. Mature adult cats weigh on average around 5 Kg but they could weigh up to 7 Kg. So the breed’s size and weight are above average.
British Shorthairs’ coats come in a large range of colours, with the most well-known being blue-grey. There are, however, 300 different officially recognized colour combinations for this breed.
Brit cats’ personality
The breed is known for being very sociable and these cats adapt easily to any household. This is one of the reasons why they are so popular for families with young children. Furthermore, they are undemanding and very affectionate. They prefer to spend most of their time at home with their family, which is why the breed is often described as the ideal house cat.
However, they don’t like being picked up, which is the only reason why there might be a clash between them and your children. Ideally, one should just leave these cats be and wait for them to come to you. If you are sitting on the sofa, there is a good chance that your cat will lie down next to you.
Male Shorthairs are a bit easier to raise than females, but either of the sexes are good household pets. Some describe British Shorthairs as truly classic British - very well-mannered and friendly. You will seldom see a cat of this breed being aggressive.
Furthermore, these cats don’t usually become particularly attached to one specific member of the family. They are loyal and friendly with everyone in the household. However, they might not be friendly towards strangers right away. They need time to get used to the visitor.
You also don’t have to worry about Shorthairs climbing around on your bookshelves as they prefer staying as close as possible to the ground.
Most Brit cats don’t meow a lot, with the sound most often made by this breed described as a chirrup. But they usually have a very loud purr. When you pet them in the right way you could be rewarded with a sound which comes close to that of a motorboat’s roar.
Raising Shorthair kittens
This breed is often hailed as an ideal first cat because you don’t need to have any specific experience to raise shorthair kittens. However, as with any other cat you do have to make sure that your kitten is socialised correctly.
Right from the start you need to teach the kitten what behaviour is allowed or not allowed. For example, as soon as your kitten scratches the sofa you should show them where the scratching post is. You should do this quite a few times before you resort to punishment, like using a cat repellant spray on your furniture.
You will want to build a good relationship with your kitten, so always keep in mind that reward is better than punishment. Correct your kitten if something goes wrong, using a low voice. Praise them when they behave correctly by petting or rewarding them with a snack.
The ideal environment for British Shorthairs
When considering bringing a kitten into your home, you should bear in mind how much time you have to spend with them. Although kittens sleep for a large part of the day, they don’t not like being alone. These cats become very attached to their owners and need enough attention and petting.
Shorthairs do not necessarily have to go outside. They can live indoors if you make sure that they have enough toys and other distractions. Provide toys and scratching posts throughout the house to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture.
These cats love playing and that’s why you should play with them every day. It doesn't matter whether you use a spring on a rope or intelligent toys with hidden sweets - they will enjoy all types of toys.
You can bring these cats into your home even if you already have other animals, but the chances of things going well will increase if the other animals are also quite calm. This breed will not appreciate busy and noisy animals and will tend to keep their distance from them.
Children and Brit cats are usually a good match but you do need to teach your children not to pick the cat up. As already mentioned, these cats don’t like being picked up and if a child keeps bothering the cat it's unlikely that a good relationship will develop between them.
The right food for your British Shorthair
As with any other purebred cats, you have to make sure that your cat doesn’t put on too much weight as it will affect their overall health. This is particularly important if your cat does not go outside.
A combination of dry and wet food for cats is generally recommended. Wet food contains extra moisture, which helps to keep your cat hydrated.
Not sure how much to feed your cat? Then go to any Yarrah product page for nutritional advice. You can enter your cat’s weight and activity level and then you will be provided with information on the correct amount of food per day.
For example, you can feed an active cat weighing 4 kilograms 56 grams per day of the Yarrah organic cat food with fish, with MSC herring, organic chicken, peas and lupine. If you also feed your cat some treats, you should ideally reduce their regular food. Our organic mini cat treats, consisting of 97% meat, are relatively low in calories and so you can spoil your cat with a clear conscience.
All Yarrah pet food is also completely free of artificial fragrances, colouring and flavours, pesticides and GMO. With our food you can be sure that you are feeding your cat only the best ingredients.
Grooming your British Shorthair
This breed has a thick, plush coat because of the Persian cat cross. They need daily brushing to prevent tangles which are particularly troublesome in cats with short coats. The tangles quickly get close to the skin and then removing them could cause your cat quite a bit of pain.
Cats that go outside need to be brushed more often during spring and autumn. Not only because they shed more during these seasons, but also because dry leaves, twigs and seeds could get caught up in their fur during autumn. You don’t have to bath your cat as they are quite capable of keeping themselves clean.
Health and life expectancy of British Shorthairs
Two common hereditary diseases in this breed are Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), which can lead to acute heart failure, and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which could cause gradual kidney failure. If you buy Shorthair kittens from a breeder you should ask whether their parents were tested for these conditions. Responsible breeders ensure that their animals are tested to prevent these disorders from being passed on to their offspring.
On average, British Shorthairs live up to between 12 and 15 years of age, which is similar to other pedigree cats. Obviously there are always exceptions to the rule and there are many reports of Brit cats that lived much longer.
Buying Shorthair kittens
There are many registered and unregistered British Shorthair cat breeders in the UK. An ethical breeder will allow you to visit before you buy a kitten to choose the one you feel connected to.
You can expect to pay anywhere between £350 and £2000 for Shorthair kittens, depending on the breeder, lineage, colour and other factors. For the price you can expect that the breeder has had the kitten vaccinated and chipped. Also be sure to always check the kitten’s pedigree and whether both parents have been tested for hereditary diseases.
Shorthair kittens can only be taken away from their mother after seven weeks. If they are removed from the litter too soon there is a good chance that they have not been properly socialised yet and you could end up with a fearful and shy adult cat.
By the time your kitten can leave their mother they are already weaned and eating normal cat food. You can still add some water to the kibble so that it is easier for the kittens to chew. On the Yarrah website you can click the option for kitten food to find the products which are suitable for kittens. Then you can be assured that your newest family member always gets the right nutrients!