Buying a pet

British Shorthair: Cat Breed info and health advice

Date updated: 05 12 2017

Sweet-tempered, affectionate and with that unmistakable “teddy bear” face, falling in love with the British Shorthair is pretty much the easiest thing in the world! These moggy's are super easy-going, and like a true Brit… reserved at first, but loyal and devoted once they get to know you.

At home in the town or the country, the British Shorthair suits all lifestyles. The Shorthair was first put to work hunting down mice in barns - but these days, they’re happy chasing toys or chilling out on the sofa with their buddy.


Average lifespan: 15 to 20 years

Weight: females 4.5 to 5.4 kg; males 6.8 to 8.1 kg

Height: females 14-18 inches; males 16-20 inches

Colouring: Most popular colour is blue (sometimes referred to as British Blues), but you’ll also see shorthairs in lilac, chocolate, black, white and tabby.

Grooming: low maintenance  

Average purchase cost: around £450

British Shorthair

Bet you didn’t know...

- The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland was a British Shorthair. Probably down to those chubby cheeks and big eyes.

- They first arrived with the Romans. For hundreds of years they were street cats, helping keep towns and villages rat free. Later on, exotic cats like Persians and Siamese were introduced into the breeding mix, which is where they got that amazing plush coat.

- They were the first cat meme! Remember “I Can Has Cheezburger?”? Well it all started back in 2007 when blogger Eric Nakagawa posted a pic of a smiling British Shorthair known as Happy Cat, kick starting the animal meme craze we know (and love) today!

- A British Shorthair once had a record-breaking purr. A normal cat’s purr usually clocks in at around 25 decibels. Smokey’s purr was on a par with a Boeing 737!

- Coby the British Shorthair is Instagram famous, with over a million followers! If you like cats in costumes (who doesn’t!?) then you need to check him out.

Great for…

Pretty much everyone. You don’t get to be one of the country’s most popular cats unless a lot of people love you.

If you live in the town, a Shorthair will pick up life as an indoor cat quite happily (just make sure he has lots of toys to play with). If it’s safe, a Shorthair loves the great outdoors too.

If you’re at work all day, this breed definitely deserves a place on your shortlist. A Shorthair loves attention - but they’re pretty happy mooching around on their own until everyone gets back home.

Behaviour & temperament...

‘Happy-go-lucky’ sums up a British Shorthair’s approach to life. If there’s other cats in the house, chances are your Shorthair will make friends easily. Even with dogs, they’ll usually find a way to get along.

A Shorthair loves your company - but they’re not exactly a lap cat. So if there are kids in the house, it’s worth reminding them that kitty needs his own space sometimes!


When your new buddy arrives, make sure you get a feeding schedule from the breeder. At this age, they love a routine - so give the same food at the same times each day to avoid tummy upsets. Even as they get older, new foods should be introduced slowly to make sure they agree.

Males especially are pretty sturdy - but that build should come from natural muscle tone and not from overeating! Most shorthairs are happy lazing around the house for most of the day. They also love their food, so follow the advice of your vet on feeding frequency and portion size. Plenty of playtime can also help burn some calories. Remember that keeping a close eye on that waistline is one of the best things you can do to ensure your buddy stays happy and healthy for as long as possible.

On the grooming front, living with a British Shorthair couldn’t be easier. A close-lying coat means no matting, so all that’s needed is a weekly brush to keep it in top condition. You’ll probably notice some shedding during Spring and Autumn, so brush a little more often.

Check your Shorthair’s ears on a weekly basis. If there’s any dirt in there, wipe them with a cotton swab and cleanser recommended by your vet. Redness, crustiness and a bad smell are signs of infection - in which case, see you vet early on to get it sorted. Teeth-brushing and nail-trimming should also be carried out regularly.

British Shorthair

Common health issues to watch out for...

- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease affecting cats - and Shorthairs are predisposed to it. If your buddy’s lost his appetite, seems sleepy or difficulty breathing, get it checked out. Scans might be required to confirm the diagnosis - and might lead to hospitalisation.

- Hyperthyroidism can also affect Shorthairs. It’s where the thyroid glands start producing too much thyroid hormone. Some of the first signs include sickness, a poorly tummy, weight loss despite being constantly hungry, and a very greasy coat. Often it comes on as a result of a benign tumour in the thyroid gland. Surgery and follow-up meds is often the way forward.

- Cystitis (feline lower urinary tract disease) can affect British Shorthairs - often caused by infection or the development of bladder stones. Treatment can include meds and a special medical diet.

- Chronic kidney disease can arise in Shorthairs. A normal, happy life with a chronic kidney issue is possible, but this usually needs long-term meds and lots of vet visits.

- Shorthairs can live well into their teens. This is great - but you want your buddy to enjoy a happy and healthy old age. Insurance can make it easier to make sure your Shorthair gets the right treatment when they need it most.


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