British Shorthair Cats: Profile, Diet, Personality, Health Issues & More

We take a look at this majestic cat breed and go over why it is a great option for families.
British Shorthair Cats: Profile, Diet, Personality, Health Issues & More

If you’re looking for a cat that is both affectionate and independent, then a British Shorthair may be the perfect pet for you. In fact, according to our rankings of the best cat breeds, the British Shorthair scored an impressive 8/10.  These cats are known for their calm and friendly temperament, as well as their distinctive stocky build and plush coats. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a look at these cats, covering everything from their history to their care requirements.

Cat Species The British Shorthair At A Glance

Family: Felidae

Class: Mammalia

Lifespan: 12-17 years

Length: 12-14 inches

Weight: 9-18 pounds

Energy Level: Low to moderate

Personality: Calm, affectionate, independent, loyal, adaptable

Temperament: Even-tempered and relaxed

Intelligence: Intelligent and curious, but not overly active


Believed to be one of the oldest and most well-established cat breeds, the British Shorthair traces its roots back to Ancient Rome. The arrival of the Romans in Britain saw them bring with them domesticated cats, which interbred with the native feline population. Over time, these cats developed the distinctive traits that we now associate with British Shorthairs.

Early Development

During the late 19th century, cat breeding became a popular pastime among Victorian aristocrats in Britain. However, it was not until the late 1800s that the British Shorthair breed as we know it today began to take shape. Dedicated breeders selectively bred the strongest and healthiest cats to achieve a consistent look and temperament.


It was in the early 20th century that the British Shorthair was formally recognized as a breed. In 1898, Harrison Weir, one of the pioneers of modern cat shows, played a significant role in establishing the British Shorthair’s place in today’s society. The breed quickly gained popularity, and in 1901, the first British Shorthair cats were exhibited at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London.

Adversities and Revival

The two World Wars brought significant challenges to the British Shorthair breed. During these tumultuous times, many cat breeds suffered a decline in numbers due to food shortages and the loss of breeding programs. The British Shorthair was no exception.

Fortunately, a small group of dedicated breeders managed to preserve the breed during these difficult years. After the wars, the British Shorthair was reintroduced to breeding programs, and its numbers slowly but steadily increased.

Expansion and Global Popularity

The British Shorthair’s popularity continued to grow throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. The breed’s distinct features, including its round face, dense coat, and sturdy build, captured the hearts of cat enthusiasts worldwide. Today, British Shorthairs are highly sought after pets in many countries, and they continue to be cherished for their gentle and loving nature.


If you’re considering getting a British Shorthair cat, it’s important to be aware of the potential cost. The cost of a British Shorthair cat can vary depending on factors such as pedigree, age, and location. On average, you can expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000 for a British Shorthair kitten from a reputable breeder. It’s important to note that the initial cost of acquiring a British Shorthair is just the beginning. You’ll also need to budget for ongoing expenses such as food, litter, toys, grooming, and veterinary care.

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Physical Characteristics

British Shorthair Cat Characteristics

One of the defining characteristics of British Shorthair cats is their distinctive build. These cats are known for their stocky, muscular physiques, as well as their round faces and short, plush coats. British Shorthairs come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including solid colors like blue and black, as well as tabby and tortoiseshell variants.

British Shorthairs are considered a medium to large breed, with males typically weighing between 9 and 17 pounds and females weighing between 7 and 12 pounds.

Temperament and Personality

British Shorthairs are known for their calm and friendly temperaments, which make them excellent pets for families with children or other pets.

These cats are sociable and affectionate, but they also value their independence and need plenty of alone time. They might not be as demanding for attention as some other breeds, but they still appreciate love and affection from their owners.

Another hallmark of the British Shorthair personality is their intelligence. These cats are highly curious and inquisitive, and they love to explore their surroundings. They’re also playful and enjoy interactive toys and games that help them satisfy their natural hunting instincts.

Diet & Nutrition

To keep your British Shorthair cat happy and healthy, you need to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet. These cats have a tendency to gain weight, so it’s important to monitor their portion sizes and avoid overfeeding. High-quality commercial cat food that is specifically formulated for adult cats is a good option.


Protein is a crucial part of a cat’s diet. It helps to maintain muscle mass, keep their coat healthy, and support their immune system. As obligate carnivores, cats require a high protein diet. British Shorthair cats are no exception, and it’s important that their diet is rich in high-quality animal proteins, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and lamb to maintain the health of the cat.


While protein is essential, it’s important to remember that cats also require carbohydrates in their diet. British Shorthair cats require a balanced diet that contains easily digestible carbohydrates, such as brown rice, sweet potato, and barley. However, owners should ensure that the carbohydrate contents are not too high and are of good quality.

Fats and Oils

Fats and oils are an important part of a cat’s diet, which helps with brain, skin, and coat health. High-quality fats and oils, such as those found in fish, can help keep a cat’s coat and skin healthy and shiny. Avoid fats and oils made from plants as consumption of a lot of these can make it difficult for the cat to absorb the nutrients they require.

Vitamins and Minerals

Lastly, British Shorthair cats also require a balanced amount of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Many high-quality commercial cat foods contain all of the necessary vitamins and minerals a cat needs and finding the appropriate food for your cat is crucial for their optimal health.

Grooming and Care

British Shorthair cats have a dense coat that requires regular grooming to keep it looking its best. Weekly brushing is recommended to prevent matting and minimize shedding. Invest in a quality grooming brush or comb suitable for short-haired cats to remove loose hair and keep the coat healthy.

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Coat Care

The first and most important aspect of grooming a British Shorthair. Their dense and plush coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting, remove loose hairs, and distribute natural oils. Using a soft bristle brush or a comb with wide teeth will help to remove any tangles or knots gently. Brushing them at least once a week will keep their coat in excellent condition.


Unlike some other cat breeds, British Shorthair cats typically do not require frequent bathing. However, they may need an occasional bath if they get especially dirty or if they have a skin condition. When bathing your British Shorthair, it is important to use a cat-specific shampoo that is gentle on their skin and coat. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry them properly to prevent them from catching a chill.

Nail Care

Regular nail care is essential to keep your British Shorthair cat comfortable and prevent any discomfort or injury. Trimming their nails regularly will help reduce the chances of them scratching furniture or injuring themselves while playing. Using specialized cat nail clippers, carefully trim the tips of their nails, being cautious not to cut too close to the quick. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with trimming their nails yourself, seek professional assistance from a veterinarian or a professional groomer.

Dental Care

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for the overall health of your British Shorthair cat. Regular dental care, such as brushing their teeth, can help prevent tartar buildup, gum disease, and other dental issues. Using a cat-specific toothbrush and toothpaste, gently brush their teeth on a regular basis. If your cat is not accustomed to having their teeth brushed, introduce it gradually and make it a positive experience by rewarding them with treats or praise.

Ear and Eye Care

Checking and cleaning your British Shorthair cat’s ears and eyes are important parts of their grooming routine. Regularly inspect their ears for any signs of redness, discharge, or dirt buildup. Clean their ears with a cat-safe ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball or pad. Regarding their eyes, use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe away any discharge or debris. If you notice any persistent issues or abnormalities, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Following these grooming and care practices will ensure that your British Shorthair cat stays healthy, clean, and happy throughout their life.


While British Shorthair cats are not as energetic as some other breeds, they still require regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Engaging in playtime with interactive toys can help fulfill their hunting instincts and provide a good outlet for their energy. Consider providing them with scratching posts, climbing trees, or puzzle toys to keep them entertained.

Strike a balance between exercise and rest, as British Shorthairs also enjoy lounging and observing their surroundings. Avoid overexertion, especially if they are showing signs of fatigue or stress.

Health Issues

Like all pets, British Shorthair cats require regular veterinary care to stay healthy. Routine checkups, vaccinations, and preventive care are all essential for keeping your cat in top shape. Additionally, British Shorthairs require regular grooming to maintain their soft, plush coats. Weekly brushing is recommended to prevent matting and keep shedding under control.

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Obesity is a significant health concern in British Shorthair cats. These cats have a tendency to gain weight easily due to their low metabolism and hearty appetite. Being overweight can lead to a range of health issues such as diabetes, joint problems, and heart disease. To prevent obesity, it is important to provide a balanced diet with appropriate portion sizes and to encourage regular exercise. Consult with your veterinarian to develop a proper nutrition plan and ensure your British Shorthair maintains a healthy weight.

Dental Problems

British Shorthair cats are prone to dental problems, including periodontal disease and dental tartar buildup. These issues can cause pain, difficulty eating, and even affect their overall health if left untreated. Regular dental care is essential, including brushing their teeth with a cat-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Additionally, providing dental treats or toys designed to promote oral health can help prevent dental issues. Regular veterinary check-ups should include a thorough dental examination to catch any potential problems early.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a genetic condition that can affect British Shorthair cats. It is characterized by the formation of fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney dysfunction and failure over time. While not all British Shorthair cats will develop PKD, it is important to choose a reputable breeder who tests their cats for this condition. Regular veterinary check-ups should include screening for PKD through ultrasound or DNA testing. If diagnosed, the veterinarian can develop a treatment plan to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a hereditary heart condition that can affect British Shorthair cats. It involves the thickening of the heart muscle, which can impair its function and potentially lead to heart failure. Routine cardiac screenings, such as echocardiograms, can help identify any signs of HCM. While there is no cure for HCM, early detection and proper management can help improve the quality of life for affected cats. Regular veterinary check-ups should include monitoring the heart health of British Shorthair cats, especially if there is a family history of HCM.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive disorder that can affect female British Shorthair cats. It is characterized by the formation of cysts on the ovaries, which can lead to hormonal imbalances and fertility issues. Symptoms of PCOS may include irregular heat cycles, lack of conception, or difficulty delivering kittens. If you plan to breed your British Shorthair cat, it is important to choose a breeder who screens for PCOS to ensure healthy offspring. Veterinary consultation is crucial if you suspect your female cat may have PCOS, as they can provide guidance on appropriate management options.

Resolving Health Issues

If your British Shorthair cat develops any health issues, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. They will be able to provide tailored advice and recommendations based on your cat’s specific condition. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for monitoring your cat’s overall health and catching any potential issues early.

Housing Options for British Shorthair Cats

British Shorthair cats are adaptable and can thrive in various living environments. Whether you live in an apartment, a house, or a rural area, British Shorthairs can adjust well to their surroundings. They do not require as much space as some other breeds but will appreciate having enough room to roam and explore.

Traditional Houses

Traditional houses, such as single-family homes or apartments, can serve as suitable environments for British Shorthair cats. Here are some key considerations for providing a safe and comfortable living space:

  1. Indoor versus Outdoor: British Shorthair cats are generally adaptable to both indoor and outdoor environments, but it’s recommended to keep them indoors to protect them from potential dangers such as traffic, predators, and diseases.
  2. Space and Accessibility: British Shorthair cats are medium to large-sized cats, so they need enough space to move around comfortably. Provide multiple levels of perches, climbing posts, and hideouts to cater to their playful and curious nature.
  3. Unobstructed Views and Sun Exposure: British Shorthair cats enjoy observing their surroundings, so having windows or perches near windows with unobstructed views can provide entertainment and mental stimulation. Additionally, allowing them access to sunlight while ensuring a safe and comfortable spot to relax is important.
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Cat Condos and Trees

Cat condos and trees are specially designed furniture pieces that cater to a cat’s natural instincts for climbing, scratching, and perching. These can be great additions to your home for British Shorthair cats. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Sturdy Construction: British Shorthair cats are known for their solid build, so ensure that the cat condo or tree is made of durable materials and has a stable structure to support their weight and ensure safety.
  2. Multiple Levels and Hideouts: British Shorthair cats love to climb and have their own space. Look for cat furniture that offers different levels, platforms, and hideouts where they can perch, play, and relax.
  3. Scratching Surfaces: British Shorthair cats have a natural urge to scratch, so choose cat condos or trees with built-in scratching posts or surfaces. This will help satisfy their instinctual needs and protect your furniture from their sharp claws.

Cat Enclosures and Catio Spaces

Cat enclosures and catio spaces are outdoor areas designed to provide safe access to the outdoors while ensuring the protection of your British Shorthair cat. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Security and Safety: Cat enclosures and catios should be securely enclosed to prevent escapes. Ensure that the materials used are sturdy and can withstand the elements and potential predators.
  2. Enrichment Opportunities: Provide your British Shorthair cat with various toys, scratching posts, and elevated platforms within the enclosure or catio to create an enriching environment. This will allow them to exercise, explore, and bask in the sun safely.
  3. Access to Essential Amenities: Make sure your cat enclosure or catio includes essential amenities such as food and water stations, litter boxes, and a cozy resting area. Providing these amenities will ensure your British Shorthair cat’s comfort and well-being.

When considering housing options for your British Shorthair cat, prioritize their safety, comfort, and natural instincts. Whether you choose a traditional house, cat condos, or cat enclosures, providing a suitable environment for your British Shorthair cat will contribute to their overall well-being and happiness.

Breeding British Shorthair Cats

Breeding British Shorthair Cats
Breeding British Shorthair cats should only be done by knowledgeable and responsible breeders who prioritize the health and welfare of the cats.

Selecting Healthy Parent Cats

When breeding British Shorthair cats, choose healthy and genetically sound parent cats. Start by selecting cats that have a proven lineage and a good track record of health. Obtain thorough medical records and pedigrees for both the sire (male) and dam (female) to assess their health background and genetic history.

The Breeding Process

Breeding British Shorthair cats involves careful planning and timing. Female cats usually come into heat between the ages of 6 months to 1 year, but it is recommended to wait until they are fully mature, usually around 1 to 2 years old, before breeding them. Breeding too early can lead to complications and health issues.

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When the female is in heat, you can introduce her to a compatible male cat. Supervised mating sessions may be required over a period of a few days to maximize the chances of successful mating. During this time, it is essential to monitor the behavior and health of both cats closely.

Once mating has occurred, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian to confirm the pregnancy. Regular veterinary check-ups and appropriate prenatal care are crucial to ensure the health of the pregnant cat and the development of the kittens.

Caring for Pregnant and Nursing Cats

During pregnancy, it is vital to provide the pregnant cat with a comfortable, stress-free environment. Provide a separate nesting area where she can give birth and care for her kittens.

Pregnant and nursing cats have increased nutritional needs. Feed them a high-quality, balanced diet specifically formulated for their stage of life. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet and feeding schedule.

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial during pregnancy to monitor the health of the mother cat and the growing kittens. The veterinarian can also provide guidance on prenatal care, vaccinations, and any necessary supplements.

Birth and Care of Kittens

When the time comes for the kittens to be born, it is important to be prepared and attentive. Ensure that the nesting area is clean, warm, and quiet. Monitor the birth process closely, but avoid interfering unless there are signs of complications. The mother cat will generally take care of everything instinctively.

After the birth, provide a safe and comfortable space for the mother cat and her kittens. Monitor the kittens’ growth and development, ensuring they are nursing and gaining weight appropriately. If any concerns arise, consult a veterinarian for guidance.

Socialization is crucial for the kittens’ development. Expose them to various stimuli, sounds, and human interaction from an early age. This will help them become well-adjusted and confident cats as they grow.

Finding Suitable Homes for the Kittens

As a responsible breeder, it is your duty to find suitable and loving homes for the kittens you breed. Conduct thorough screening of potential adopters to ensure they are committed to providing a safe and caring environment.

Educate the new owners about the breed, including their specific needs and characteristics. Provide them with information on proper care, nutrition, grooming, and regular veterinary check-ups.

Consider having a written contract in place that outlines your expectations for the new owners, including spaying/neutering requirements and the provision for returning the cat to you if they are unable to keep it in the future.

Fun Facts about British Shorthair Cats

  1. Origins: British Shorthair Cats have a rich history originating in the United Kingdom, where they were bred for their exceptional hunting skills.
  2. Physical Features: British Shorthair Cats have a solid, muscular build with broad chests and round faces adorned by large, round eyes.
  3. Coat Varieties: British Shorthair Cats come in various coat colors and patterns, with the famous “British Blue” being the most recognized.
  4. Purrfectly Plush: The dense and plush coat of British Shorthair Cats gives them a teddy bear-like appearance and is incredibly soft to the touch.
  5. Easygoing Personalities: British Shorthair Cats have calm and easygoing personalities, making them a wonderful choice for individuals or families looking for a relaxed pet.
  6. Playful Side: Despite their laid-back nature, British Shorthair Cats enjoy interactive toys and games that stimulate their natural instincts.
  7. Compatibility with Other Pets: British Shorthair Cats are generally tolerant and get along well with other pets, including dogs and other cats.
  8. Affectionate Companions: While not overly demanding, British Shorthair Cats form deep bonds with their humans and enjoy gentle petting.
  9. Famous Faces: British Shorthair Cats have gained recognition in popular culture and media, appearing in advertisements, movies, books, and social media.
  10. Longevity: British Shorthair Cats are generally healthy and can live for an average of 12 to 17 years with proper care and regular veterinary check-ups.


British Shorthair cats are an excellent choice for anyone seeking a friendly, affectionate, and unique pet. Their distinctive appearance and easygoing personality make them a beloved companion to cat lovers around the world. With proper care and attention, British Shorthairs can live long, healthy, and happy lives, bringing joy to their owners for years to come.

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