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British Shorthair Cat Breed

Full of British reserve, the British Shorthair cat has a quiet voice and is an undemanding companion. While not overly affectionate, the British Shorthair tends to get along just fine with everyone. They’re mellow and will tolerate other pets, and even though they may not seek out snuggles at every opportunity, they’re happy to be scooped up for a good cuddle.

British Shorthair Facts

One of the oldest cat breeds in the world, they most likely date back to the first century AD and originate from England.

  • Breed: British Shorthair
  • Length: 30-35 cm
  • Weight: Female: 3-5.5 kg, Male: 4-7.7 kg
  • Life Span: 12-17 years
  • Coat: Short-haired, dense
  • Colour: Over 200 colours and patterns including Blue (grey), lilac, chocolate, black, red, cream, pointed, tabby and many more.

British Shorthair

Breed Characteristics

Energy level
Health issues
Social needs
Grooming needs
Shedding level
Vocalisation tendency

What Does a British Shorthair Look Like?

The British Shorthair is a study in roundness. He has a large round head, round eyes and rounded paws. Even his tail has a rounded tip. He was once known as the British Blue because he came only in that colour, but these days his short, plush coat comes in many different colours and patterns. There is also a longhaired variety, called the British Longhair. Except for his coat, the British Longhair is the same as the British Shorthair.


British Shorthair

Breed Facts

Life span:
12-17 years
30-35 cm
Female: 3-5.5 kg, Male: 4-7.7 kg
Short-haired, dense
Over 200 colours and patterns including Blue (grey), lilac, chocolate, black, red, cream, pointed, tabby and many more.
Eye colour:
Copper, green, gold, blue, odd-eyed
Small and rounded

British Shorthair Temperament: The Strong and Silent Type

A typical British Shorthair is the strong and silent type, as they’re not the most talkative of cats. But what they lack in chattiness, they make up for in affection, as they form strong bonds with their owners.

They’re generally quite content to laze around the house throughout the day, making them an ideal indoor cat. However, the British Shorthair’s temperament and tendency to chill out means weight gain is common.  

They’ll still be eager to explore, though they’re unlikely to venture too far from home. British Shorthairs generally mature later than other breeds , meaning their smart nature is accompanied by a kitten-like playfulness for longer.

Keeping British Shorthairs Healthy: Issues to Watch Out For

British Shorthairs generally have a good bill of health however hey do suffer from a handful of heritable conditions. If you opt for adoption, be sure to get as much health history on the cat as the rescue organisation is able to provide.

Tip: Signing up for pet insurance while your cat is young and without pre-existing conditions could help you save on future vet bills.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

The British Shorthair is known to be vulnerable to HCM, although males are more likely to develop the condition than females.

Affecting the muscular walls of the heart, HCM can cause a rapid heartbeat and breathing problems in cats. Keep any eye on their activity levels (yes they tend to be a bit lazy) but any unusual degree of lethargy, panting or laboured breathing can be a sign of a heart problem. Like any disease it needs to be caught early if you want the best outcome.


Hyperthyroidism can also affect Shorthairs. It’s where the thyroid glands start producing too much thyroid hormone. Some of the first signs include sickness, a poorly tummy, weight loss despite being constantly hungry, and a very greasy coat. Often it comes on as a result of a benign tumour in the thyroid gland. Surgery and follow-up meds is often the way forward.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Cysts develop in the cat’s kidneys, sometimes leading to failure. Thankfully, DNA testing is now available to breeders, which means a pedigree British Shorthair is unlikely to have the condition. It pays to check that the breeder has DNA tested the parents and is only breeding from negative cats


Cystitis (feline lower urinary tract disease) can affect British Shorthairs - often caused by infection or the development of bladder stones. Treatment can include meds and a special medical diet.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy is the term used to describe a group of genetic disorders that result in degeneration and atrophy (loss or wasting) of the retina – the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye. This can lead to a progressive decline in the quality of vision and in some cases can lead to blindness. It pays to check that the breeder has DNA tested the parents and is only breeding from negative cats.

Caring for Your British Shorthair Cat

British Shorthair cats require minimal grooming due to their short coat but like all other cats there do need weekly cares to help keep them in tip top shape.


The British Shorthair only requires weekly bushing to remove loose hair from their plush coat. Regular brushing of your British Shorthairs teeth will help prevent periodontal disease. As well as good quality dental treats.

Other grooming requirements are to trim their claws every couple of weeks and do eye and ear care weekly. Gently wipe the corners of the eyes to remove any discharge. Use a separate section of the cloth or wipe for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any possible infection. Check the ears and if they look dirty, wipe them out too.


Giving your British Shorthair cat a healthy diet is an important part of their care. Be sure you’re offering age-appropriate food to ensure it provides the nutrition your young kitten or adult cat needs.

British Shorthair cats can do well on dried cat food or wet cat food, so choose one which you feel gives the most appropriate balance of nutrients or better still feed a combination of both. You can also feed a breed specific food such as Royal Canin British Shorthair Adult Dry Cat Food or Royal Canin British Shorthair Adult Wet Cat Food.

Use the feeding chart on the bag as a guide, or ask the PetDirect Customer Care Team how much to feed your particular cat.

Royal Canin British Shorthair

    Exercise & Play time with your British Shorthair:

    This is not a very active cat. You won’t find him on top of the refrigerator but instead solidly on the floor. He is smart and will enjoy having toys to play with, especially if they are interactive.

    Puzzle and enrichment toys that challenge your cat’s brain can help prevent boredom and keep your kitty from seeking out trouble.

    Litter training your British Shorthair:

    It is usually easy to train a British Shorthair to use a litter tray as they will respond best to positive reinforcement. Read our blog: Cat litter tips from our cat fanatic for tips and advice on litter and litter training.

    Use a quality litter and keep your British Shorthair's litter tray spotlessly clean. Cats are very particular about bathroom hygiene, and a clean litter tray will help to keep their coat clean as well. Speaking of litter trays, ensure to get a litter tray that fits your cat to ensure they have plenty of room to turn around and squat.

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