The British Shorthair is a stocky cat that has its roots probably in Roman occupation times in Britain when cats were kept as pets following the Egyptian custom of doing so. It was considered very lucky to have a cat in the home.
British Shorthair cats were what was naturally found in Britain and bred there as a common moggy. They came in many colours and are most famous for being blue (although others argue it is grey). The best were selected for their lovely round eye and round body type and exhibited in their first show in England at the Crystal Palace. From then on the common British cat has been accepted as the most endearing teddy bear all over the world.
During the Second World War much property, human life and animals were destroyed in Britain. To increase the population of these much loved cats, the Persian was used to create a more appealing face. This distinctive short face, round eye and round body is what we accept today as the British Shorthair with the occasional longhair variety still popping up because of the longhair Persian gene that was introduced postwar. It must be remembered that originally the face was not as Persian-like and some breeders have managed to produce cats with a small nose but not narrow as the domestic is.
British Shorthair cats have their own unique temperament. They are normally nonchalant cats with their own personality. They love to follow humans everywhere around the house and garden but on the whole dislike immensely being picked up and cuddled for long periods of time. This is probably because their fur is so thick that they pick up body heat and resent this closeness. They do however like being patted and groomed and having their feet on the ground or chair arm or a lap too, as long as they are not held in arms too long. This is an important feature of their personality to remember and must be taken into consideration when owning a British Shorthair cat. Although they look cuddly they may not like intimacy. When these cats are being shown in a catshow the handlers and judges all appreciate that the British Shorthair must be put onto the show table as quickly as possible and not held onto any longer than necessary. They can be extremely intelligent and their companionable personality makes them a joy to own.
An early example of the "English type" Blue Shorthair, from Frances Simpson's Book of the Cat, 1903
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