Breed: British Shorthair
Lifespan: 15+ years
Recommended for: adults, elderly
British Shorthair cats are thought to be the descendants of the first cats bought to England by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. The cats became feral, breeding furiously and living in the streets of towns and cities. In the 19th century author and artist Harrison Weir saw the beauty and intelligence of the local street cats and decided to choose the best looking specimens and start a breeding program. He wrote the standard for a new breed known as British Shorthairs and began to show the cats in exhibitions. Later in the century the cats were crossed with Persians and other long haired pure breeds to create the large rounded head for which the breed is now famous.
British Shorthairs are affectionately known as ‘soccer ball heads’ because of the large rounded head that is so sought after in the breed. They are a large breed of cat with a short, cobby and quite heavy body. The other distinctive characteristic of the breed are its copper or orange eyes, (although blue eyes are found in some of the newer varieties). The cats have a thick double layer coat that is resilient and not soft flowing, despite the influence of the Persian. The coat has what is called a crackling effect, which means it is crisp to touch. British Shorthairs are best known for a rich dark grey coat however they do come in an endless variety of colours and combinations and there is no colour that is undesirable.
It is often the temperament of the British Shorthair rather than looks which endears this breed to people. British are laid back and non active. They tend to be lazy and would rather spend time sleeping than playing. Breeders say they are intelligent and can even be taught to walk on a lead. Although some cats will tolerate time outside the majority would rather choose to be inside looking out. They are often described as the cat with all four feet on the ground as they do not climb very well. British are not very vocal but will talk to you if they are not well or hungry.
Although they are considered a low maintenance cat they do need grooming once a week to remove the hair from the thick coat. This will prevent hair balls in the cat. British do not require any special food or other care.
Health and lifespan
Due to the mixed origin of the British they are one of the healthiest and hardiest of breeds. Their lifespan of 15 years or more is reflective of a sturdier cat. However, you must be careful not to overfeed them as low activity levels combined with hearty appetites makes them susceptible to obesity. The oldest recorded age of a British Shorthair is 23 years.
British are suitable for anyone moving in the slower lane of life. Older couples, older families and even retirees will enjoy a cat that is not fast moving. As an indoor cat they adapt very well to life in an apartment.
We filmed our story with Brad Curtis and his wife Sharon. They have been breeding British Shorthairs for about seven years and can be contacted on (02) 4889 8205.
To locate a British Shorthair breeder near you, contact the cat council in your state.
Capital Cats Inc
PO Box 124
Phone: (02) 6231 6538
The New South Wales Cat Fanciers’ Association Inc
PO Box 5699
South Windsor, 2756
Phone: (02) 4587 8789
Queensland Feline Association
8 Cooper Road
Phone: (07) 3260 6575
Feline Association of South Australia Inc.
PO Box 736
Murray Bridge, 5253
Phone: (08) 8532 3314
Cat Control Council of Tasmania
85 McKenzies Road
Leslie Vale, 7054
Phone: (03) 6239 6449
Feline Control Council of Victoria Inc
Ascot Vale, 3032
Phone: (03) 9281 7404
Cat Owners Association of Western Australia Inc
PO Box 135
Phone: (08) 9384 2500
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