Ten things you didn't know about British Shorthairs

Danielle Petch

Quintessentially British, the British Shorthair cat is laidback, easy-going and extremely affectionate. A true picture of elegance, if you don’t immediately fall for their teddy bear-like good looks (unlikely), then their dazzling personalities are sure to win you over.

So, it really is no surprise then that they’re one of the UK’s most loved breeds, with hordes more admirers from across the globe. While you might know a little bit about the British Shorthair, there are probably quite a few things about this popular cat breed that will take you by surprise. So, here you have it — here are ten things you (probably) didn’t know about British Shorthairs. 

They are one of the oldest breeds of cat 

In fact, it’s believed by experts that they descended from Ancient Rome, first coming to England during the Roman invasion in the first century AD. They gained popularity during the Victorian era and were shown in what’s believed to be the world’s first cat show in 1871. 

But, we almost lost them forever

In the twentieth century, the breed almost became extinct as people began to favour other exotic cat breeds that were beginning to appear at the time. That, plus the effects of two World Wars almost wiped out these wonderfully stocky felines for good. Luckily though, by the 1970s, the breed was back in full force.   

They were once working cats

We know, hard to believe now! But back in the nineteenth century, British Shorthairs were common street cats and barn mousers. It wasn’t until famous cat-lover Harrison Weir, also known as the “the father of cat fancy”, took a particular liking to the breed that they began to gain popularity as pets amongst the upper classes. 

Although, if you’ve ever had your British Shorthair bring you a ‘gift’ after their nightly neighbourhood patrol, the fact they were once full-time hunting cats might not be so hard to believe… 

Not all British Shorthairs are grey

Or ‘blue’, to use the correct terminology. Whilst most people would think of the classic blue coat and amber eyes, British Shorthairs actually come in a number of colours and patterns, including white, black, chocolate, red, tabby and more. In fact, there are about 30 different colour variations. As for their eyes, this largely depends on the colour of their coat, but you can expect copper, green, gold or blue. 

A British Shorthair once held the record for the world’s loudest purr

In 2011, a British Shorthair (aptly named Smokey) set the world record for the loudest purr. Smokey’s purr hit a whopping 67.7 decibels, although he’d been known to go up to around 90 decibels — that’s around the same level of noise a lawnmower makes! Smokey proudly graced the pages of the Guinness World Records until 2015, when a rescue cat named Merlin knocked him off the top spot. 

They make great family cats

Affectionate and laid-back, they really do make great family pets. Their low-moderate energy levels mean they’re not as active as other breeds, so they are usually quite happy to laze around on the couch with you. Plus, their mellow disposition means they’re usually very good with children, too.

They’re a very popular cat breed

In fact, British Shorthairs are one of the most popular cat breeds in the UK. As well as ranking in the top 5 (according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association) for the last five years and counting, they come out on top as one of the most popular cat breeds year on year, both in the UK and across the pond.

They’re popular members of TrustedHousesitters, too

It’s true — of all our feline members (and there are many!), British Shorthairs are the most popular. Perhaps unsurprising, when you consider they’re also one of the most common breeds of cat in the UK. Have you ever sat for a British Shorthair before? 

They’re the cats that got the cream

With their trademark chubby faces and plush fur, it’s no wonder that they’re rumoured to have served as inspiration for the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll's’ Alice in Wonderland. What do you think, can you see a little British Shorthair in the famous mischievous kitty? 

They’re a healthy breed

Nevermind nine lives — their relatively minor health concerns mean British Shorthairs have a great life expectancy, up to nearly 20 years. That said, their mellow approach to life (and exercise...) means they can be prone to overeating, so make sure to keep an eye on their diet and limit the treats (we know, with those eyes — it’s hard). 

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