Breed Information | british shorthairs for sale
History | british shorthairs for sale
The British Shorthair is native to Great Britain in the same way that the American Shorthair is native to America—long ago
it was transported there from somewhere else.
However, the progenitor of the Brit, as it’s affectionately called, is probably Great Britain’s oldest natural breed of cat,
and was roaming around Great Britain for centuries before its cousin journeyed to the New World.
In many ways, the British Shorthair’s struggle for recognition resembles the American Shorthair’s in North America.
Both began as working cats and weren’t appreciated as the special breeds they are for many years.
The British Shorthair originated from a common street cat once called the European Shorthair.
This breed, whose appearance is much different from the Brits you’ll see today, came to Great Britain some 2,000 years ago, courtesy of the Roman Empire.
As they conquered and colonized other lands,
the Romans brought cats along with them to protect their homes from rodents.
These cats had been obtained from the Egyptians, who were very tight-pawed with their treasured felines.
Eventually, however, Phoenician caravans transported them along trade routes,
and Roman armies smuggled them out of Egypt and carried them along to many lands.
Although the Phoenicians first introduced cats to England,
the Romans were most likely responsible for their widespread establishment when Rome invaded the British Isles.
Eventually, the Romans were driven from the Isles, but the cats they had brought with them remained.
The cats left behind didn’t look like today’s British Shorthair. Lithe with long, elegant bones, these cats were sandy brown or yellow-gray in color,
with ticked coats like the Abyssinian and tabby markings on their face, legs, and tail.
They were probably members of, or closely related to, the African wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica, the progenitor of all domestic cats.
After arriving in Europe, however, they mixed with the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris, a local wildcat subspecies inhabiting most of Europe.
This caused a shift in both coat and body style, since the European wildcat has a broad head, small wide-set ears, a sturdy, muscular body, and short, thick fur.
Some European wildcats bear the mackerel tabby pattern; this common tabby pattern found today in so many breeds and
mixed-bred cats may have arisen from the European wildcat.
Because of the colder and wetter conditions, the cats in Europe developed stocky, muscular body styles and thicker, water-repelling
coats that were favorable to the climate.
For hundreds of years, these cats earned their livings protecting from rodents in Great Britain’s barns, granaries, alleys, gardens, and households.
From these working cats, the British Shorthair developed into a stalwart, substantial breed. In the 1800s,
residents started to appreciate these hardy alley cats for their beauty, strength, personality, and their value as companions.
Blue British Shorthairs, at first simply called “Shorthairs,” were favorites of cat enthusiast Harrison Weir.
Mr. Weir was instrumental in getting the British Shorthair recognized as a breed in its own right.
While they became popular for some time there after, just before the turn of the century,
longhaired exotics caught people’s eye and British Shorthairs declined in popularity.
Nevertheless, British Shorthairs held their own until the chaos of World War II decimated the breed,
along with most other European breeds as well. After the war, efforts were dedicated to preserving the British Shorthair breed.
It took many generations to bring the breed back to their former glory, but eventually they prevailed.
Americans took little notice of the British Shorthair until the 1960s. In 1970, ACFA recognized the breed for championship in only one color—solid blue—
and under the now obsolete name “British Blue.” Blue was, and still is, the most common color both here and in Great Britain.
The breed slowly earned supporters, and between 1970 and 1980 British Shorthairs were officially recognized in all the many colors of the breed.
Today, the British Shorthair has an active following. In Great Britain, the breed also has many fans.