Sturdy, round-eyed, and plushy to the touch, British Shorthairs are one of those cat breeds that you just want to reach out and pet. With interesting origins and a lineage that dates back 2,000 years, these cats are not only popular in their native Britain, but the world over. Ever wondered about what else makes this cat breed so interesting? We have seven facts about British Shorthair cats to help you get to know them a little better.
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1. Their roots can be traced back to Egypt
The British Shorthair cats that we know today are a mixed-breed of cats, and considered to be one of the oldest in the world. Their legacy started when friendly Egyptian felines were brought to Britain, who then mated with European wildcats indigenous to the region, the latter of which were known for being aggressive and hard to domesticate. The two bloodlines merged to create a shorthaired cat with superior hunting skills and a friendliness toward humans, and is considered the first domestic cats in the country.
2. They were used as working cats
British Shorthairs, like their Egyptian ancestors, were frequently used as hunters, responsible for eliminating rodents and other vermin from places like ships, barns, and farming fields. In the late 17th century, more cats were being kept as pets and not just workers, and in 1871, the first cat show in Britain was held, featuring the British Shorthair cat among its esteemed guests.
3. British Shorthairs have unique coats
The original British Shorthair cats were only seen in a striking blue-grey color, earning them the name British Blue early on. Today, however, British Shorthair cats are found and bred to feature a wide variety of coat colors. In addition to their trademark coloring, the texture of their hair is exceptional to them — unlike British Longhairs, who have, obviously, long hair, Shorthairs have sleek, short coats that feel more plush than furry, offering a softness unique to them.
4. These cats and known for being big and round
Perhaps the most appreciated thing about the British Shorthair cat is their good looks. With big round eyes, round faces, and even rounded ears and tails, the Shorthair is cute almost beyond comparison. Pair that cartoon-like head with a broad chest, muscular neck, and thick legs and you've got what's basically a bulldog in a cat's body. Although the British Shorthair cat is naturally strong, and sturdy in size, their guardians, however, should see to it that they don't become obese, which can be a tendency. Regular exercise and a proper diet is usually all it takes to keep these cats at a weight that is best suited for their bodies. Additional health problems the British Shorthair cat may be prone to include cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscles, hemophilia, and diaphragmatic hernia.
5. They’ve competed for popularity
Following their inception, British folks adored the half Egyptian/half English creations, which became an officially recognized, pedigreed breed. During the first and second World Wars, however, the British Shorthair was bumped down to second place in popularity thanks to the introduction of Persians, a cat breed that looks similar to the British Shorthair, but with longer locks.
6. Those smiles are built-in
Ever notice that mischievous smile of the Cheshire Cat? Surely, that detail played into his personality, but the felines that character was based off of are actually genetically wired to look that way. The British Shorthair, which inspired the character in Carroll's tale, displays a similar grin thanks to where the whisker pads rest on their faces, resulting in down-turned whiskers and up-turned corners of the mouth.
7. They can cost a pretty penny
Despite being one of the most popular cats in the world, obtaining a British Shorthair can certainly set a person back if you're buying from a breeder. It's estimated that some kittens can cost anywhere between $800 and $1500 a piece, with specific attributes affecting that price, like pedigree or coat color.