The origins of British Shorthair kittens most likely date back to the first century AD, making it one of the most ancient identifiable cat breeds in the world. These cats were imported by the Romans who kept them to keep the camps clear of snakes, mice and insects.
These cats then interbred with the local European wildcat population. Over the centuries, their naturally isolated descendants in Britain developed into distinctively large, robust cats with a short but very thick coat, to better withstand conditions on their native islands. Based on artists' representations, the modern British Shorthair is unchanged from this initial type.Selective breeding of the best examples of the type began in the nineteenth century, with emphasis on developing the unusual blue-grey variant called the "British Blue" or "English type" (to distinguish it from the more fine-boned "Russian type"). Some sources directly credit UK artist, and pioneering cat fancier, Harrison Weir with the initial concept of standardizing the breed. Others suggest a group of breeders may have been involved. The new British Shorthair was featured at the first-ever cat show, organized by Weir and held at the Crystal Palace in London in 1871, and enjoyed great initial popularity.
By the 1900s with the advent of the newly imported Persian and other long-haired breeds, the British Shorthair had fallen out of favor, and breeding stock had become critically rare by World War I. At least partially to alleviate this, British Shorthair breeders mixed Persians into their bloodlines. The genes thus introduced would eventually become the basis for the British Longhair. At the time, any long-haired cats produced were placed into the Persian breeding program. As all cats with the blue colorations were then judged together as variants on a de facto single breed. The Blue Shorthair, outcrossing's of the British with the Russian Blue were also common.
After the war, in an attempt to maintain the breed standard, the GCCF decided to accept only third-generation Persian/British Shorthair crosses. This contributed to another shortage of pure breeding stock by World War II, at which point the Persian and Russian Blue were reintroduced into the mix. British Shorthair breeders also worked with the French Chartreux, another ancient breed, which although genetically unrelated to the British Blue, is a very similar cat in appearance. Breeders worked to re-establish the true British type, and by the late 1970s, the distinctive British Shorthair had achieved formal recognition from both the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA). According to the GCCF's 2013 registry data, it is once again the most popular pedigreed breed in its native country.
The British Shorthair is a relatively powerful-looking large cat, having a broad chest, strong thick-set legs with rounded paws and a medium-length, blunt-tipped tail. The head is relatively large and rounded, with a short muzzle, broad cheeks (most noticeable in mature males, who tend to develop prominent jowls) and large round eyes that are deep copper orange in the British Blue and otherwise vary in color depending on the coat. Their large ears are broad and widely set.
The British Blue variant can often be confused with the grey Scottish Fold, a breed closely related to the British Shorthair. However, the Shorthair can be characterized by having its pointy triangular ears, whereas the Fold has softer, folded ears.
They are slow to mature in comparison with most cat breeds, reaching full physical development at approximately three years of age. Unusually among domestic cats they are a noticeably sexually dimorphic breed, with males averaging 9–17 lb. (4.1–7.7 kg) and females 7–12 lb. (3.2–5.4 kg).[ 9]
British Shorthairs are an easygoing and dignified breed, not as active and playful as many, but sweet-natured and devoted to their owners, making them a favorite of animal trainers. They tend to be safe around other pets and children since they will tolerate a fair amount of physical interaction, but as a rule do not like to be picked up or carried. They require only minimal grooming and take well to being kept as indoor-only cats; however, they can be prone to obesity unless care is taken with their diet.
British Shorthairs are quiet and vigilant, but if they trust their owners, they will silently follow the owners' activities and stay with them. British Shorthair cats are not lap cats. They are more accustomed to staying beside people than squatting on people's laps. Similarly, they prefer the feeling of having their feet on the ground. They have a low voice and a moderate activity level. When there is no one at home, they will stay at home quietly and wait for their owners to come back.
1 "British Shorthair". The International Cat Association. Archived from the original on 31 October 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
2 "British Shorthair Cats | British Shorthair Cat Breed Info & Pictures | petMD". www.petmd.com. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
3 "GCCF Online > Home". www.gccfcats.org. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
4 Cat, My British Shorthair (28 January 2019). "British Shorthair Or Persian Cat?". My British Shorthair. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
5 "British Longhair Mixed Cat Breed Pictures, Characteristics, & Facts". CatTime. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
6 "GCCF: Registry data analysis 2013" (PDF). www.gccfcats.org. Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (UK). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
7 "British Shorthair Breed Standard" (PDF). www.cfainc.org. Cat Fanciers' Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
8 "CFA: Introduction to the British Shorthair". www.cfainc.org. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
9 "The International Cat Association – British Shorthair"
10 "British Shorthair". Petfinder. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
11 "British Shorthair Breed". tica.org (in Chinese (China)). Retrieved 27 April 2021.
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