British Shorthair cat breed information and advice

The British Shorthair is the most popular pedigree cat breed in the UK. They’re home-loving, affectionate and very laid back. They make excellent family pets and are also ideal for both busy and less active households. These chunky cats are happy to lead a lazy life indoors.

British Shorthair facts

Lifespan 14-20 years
How much £1,200- £2,000 from a registered breeder
Size 30-46cm
Weight males 4.1-7.7 kg; females 3.2-5.4 kg
Grooming minimal, weekly brush
Temperament affectionate, calm and laid back
Exercise less active than other breeds,
so their exercise needs are low


The Romans introduced domestic cats to Britain to keep the rodent population down. These interbred with native wild cats, and the domestic shorthair cat was born. The ‘British Blue’ was developed from the unusual blue/grey variant of these cats in the 1800s. The breed then fell out of favour. After the first World War, it was bred with Persians to increase the breeding stock.

British Shorthairs are quite stocky and have short legs. Their thick, plush coat and round face can make them look like a cuddly teddy bear.

British Shorthair cat insurance

Although British Shorthairs are a hardy cat breed, it’s still wise to take out cat insurance. If your cat is diagnosed with an illness, having pet insurance for your British Shorthair can help you with vet bills. Cats can become ill at any age, so it’s always best to take out pet insurance when they’re a kitten.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

Sainsbury’s Bank kitten insurance can be taken out as soon as your pet is 8 weeks old, right up until their 10th birthday. And once you have cover in place, we’ll insure your British Shorthair for their entire life - as long as you renew your policy year after year. Giving you one less thing to think about.

How to care for a British Shorthair

British Shorthairs are easy to look after and need minimal grooming. Make sure that they have a balanced diet and enough exercise to maintain their ideal weight. They can be prone to obesity, so try not to let them pile on the pounds.

To help prevent dental disease, check for any gum disease while cleaning their teeth.

This breed is prone to becoming overweight, especially when neutered and kept indoors. As they’re slow to mature, they should be fed kitten food until they’re at least a year old. Ask your vet for recommendations on which cat food best fits their needs. Make sure you don’t overfeed them - read the label on the food packaging for guidance on quantities. This will help to keep them at their ideal weight.

British Shorthairs don’t need much grooming. Their dense and plush coat doesn’t mat or tangle easily. A weekly brush with a cat brush, grooming glove, or comb should be enough. They might need more grooming during seasonal shedding (spring and autumn).

Their coats come in a variety of colours. They can be white, black, red, cream, smoke, blue, lilac, ginger, chocolate, silver or golden. A variety of patterns and shadings are also found, including colourpoint and tabby. But the grey-blue or ‘British Blue’ remains the most popular. Their eye colour mainly depends on the colour of their coat, but many have copper-coloured eyes.

British Shorthairs are content to laze about. But they can have the occasional burst of energetic play. Encourage them to get some exercise by giving them cat toys to play with. This will help to keep them in good condition.

British Shorthairs are an intelligent breed, so they usually pick up toilet training pretty quickly. But as they are a large cat breed, make sure you have a large litter box for them. They can also be taught small tricks, which can be a great way to build your bond with them.



Temperament and behaviour

British Shorthairs are easy-going and placid. They’ll form strong bonds with their pet parents. If kept outside, they aren’t likely to roam far. They’re suited to being kept as an indoor cat but make sure they have plenty of toys to keep them occupied. They’re usually tolerant of other cats and dogs in the household. They tend to prefer having all four feet on the ground, so don’t generally like being picked up.

If you’re looking for a lap cat, then the British Shorthair might not be the best pet for you. But they will like to snuggle up next to you on the sofa. They’re also happy to be left alone all day just lazing around.

Common health problems

Generally, a robust cat breed there are still a few health problems they can suffer from. That’s why it’s recommended to take out British Shorthair insurance to help cover vet bills. As they were bred with Persians in the past, there is a risk of them developing polycystic kidney disease. Here are some facts about common British Shorthair health issues.

Unfortunately, British Shorthairs are susceptible to HCM, which is a serious heart disease. Cats suffering from this condition have an abnormally thick heart muscle, which prevents the heart from working properly and reduces the amount of blood flowing through it.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in cats can lead to blood clots and heart failure. An ultrasound scan (echocardiogram) is usually carried out to measure the heart muscle and diagnose the condition. If recognised early enough, long-term medication and other measures can slow it down, but will not stop it completely.

Polycystic kidney disease can be inherited in British Shorthairs. Affected cats usually develop signs of kidney disease between 3 and 10 years of age, but most cats will start to show symptoms when they’re about 7. If you buy your kitten from a reputable breeder, make sure that their cats have been tested and are negative for the condition.

Hyperthyroidism is another common condition that can affect British Shorthairs. The thyroid gland produces a hormone that regulates a cat's metabolism. At first, you may notice a marked increase in your cat’s appetite. Your cat may lose weight even though it is eating more and its coat may become rough and scruffy. Your cat may also become restless and aggressive. The condition can be treated with medication, surgery or radiation.



How much is a British Shorthair cat

A British Shorthair kitten from a registered breeder can cost between £1200 and £2000. A kitten from an unregistered breeder can cost between £350 and £800. Some colours may be more popular and more expensive. A trusted breeder will have had their cats tested for hereditary diseases. They’ll also make sure that the kittens aren’t separated from their mother too early and that they have all the necessary vaccinations.

Are British Shorthair cats hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, despite rumours, British Shorthairs are not hypoallergenic. Allergy sufferers will not escape the cat allergens that can trigger coughs and sneezes. These cats may be short-haired, but they do shed a lot.

Are British Shorthairs indoor or outdoor cats?

This breed of home-loving cats is content to be kept indoors and quite happy being left alone. They might not be the best lap cats, but they do like being close to you and will snuggle up on the sofa beside you.

How long do British Shorthair cats live?

British Shorthairs are generally a long-living breed. They’ll live long happy lives of between 14 and 20 years if they’re well cared for.

So, is a British Shorthair cat right for you?

The British Shorthair is a quiet, easy-going cat that is happy to be kept indoors. They’re not particularly active and are content to be left alone. However, they will become devoted to their owners. And though they might not like being picked up or sitting on your lap, they will come for a cuddle, and they do enjoy human company when it suits them.

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Content provided from Vetstream’s Vetlexicon.

Vetstream Ltd (online) British Shorthair. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/freeform/british-Shorthair.

Martha Cannon, Rachel Korman (online) Kidney: autosomal dominant polycystic disease. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/clinical-reference/felis/diseases/kidney-autosomal-dominant-polycystic-kidney-disease.

Serena Brownlie, Phil Fox, Philip K Nicholls, Penny Watson (online) Heart: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/heart-hypertrophic-cardiomyopathy.

Michael Herrtage, Angie Hibbert, Carmel Mooney, Mark Peterson (online) Hyperthyroidism. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/hyperthyroidism