British shorthair cat in profile: Origins, price, and lifespan

The British shorthair is one of the most historically significant cat breeds in the history of feline kind. It's time to dive into the origins and characteristics of these beautiful blue-gray kitties.

British shorthairs are some of the most adorable and friendly domestic cats.
British shorthairs are some of the most adorable and friendly domestic cats.  © Collage: Unsplash/Indie Edmunds/Ani Adigyozalyan

Roman and regal, the British shorthair is one of feline kind's greatest breeds. They're cute, they're friendly, they're historical, they're affordable, and they're long-living, what more could you want? Well, even the best breed in the world has its drawbacks, so you should do a bit of research before adoption.

In this cat guide, TAG24 presents its British shorthair cat in profile. What are the origins of the British shorthair? What's the price, the characteristics, and the average lifespan? We've got everything you need to know about the British shorthair.

What is the British shorthair cat?

British shorthairs are medium-sized domestic cats that feature an iconic half-sunken face, a stocky and broad body, and, in many cases, an iconic blue-gray coat. These beautiful cats are some of the most popular in the world and are known for being ideal for families, cat lovers, and even new prospective cat owners.

It's an ancient breed, as we'll discuss in the following section, but one that has found particular fame and love in the United Kingdom and the United States. They are good-natured animals, have a decent sense of humor, and are legendary not only due to their history and temperament but also because they were infamously featured in Alice in Wonderland.

The British shorthair is one of the world's most loved and most famous cat breeds, and for good reason. They have a deep history, great personalities and - let's be real - are absolutely gorgeous!

British shorthair cat origins

The humble British shorthair comes from a not-so-humble origin, likely dating back as far as Christ. They were kept originally by the Romans as they advanced across Europe, leaving destruction in their wake. Originally, the British shorthair was kept to deal with snakes, mice, and insects as the Roman soldiers advanced, often making camp in very unsanitary and unkempt conditions.

As such, the British shorthair has a very robust look to it, developing a stocky and strong body as it interbred with local wildcat populations across Europe. Its name comes from the final version of the kitty, the one that ended up being left behind and evolving within Britain. For the most part, though, the British shorthair is thought to more-or-less resemble its ancestor on a one-to-one level.

This means that, unlike many cat breeds, which have only been around for a few centuries, the British shorthair has existed for at least two millennia, making it one of the longest-living domestic pet breeds in history.

There are few cats better suited to domestic life than British shorthairs.
There are few cats better suited to domestic life than British shorthairs.  © Unsplash/Umar Kashif

British shorthair cat characteristics

The humble British shorthair is one of the sweetest and kindest cats around. With a plump and stocky body, and a chubbiness that'll send your heart into a swoon, they are some of the cutest kitties out there, and the best pet friends you could ever hope for.

They are also some of the most easygoing cats, happy to play with children and be carried around plenty. With a lot of patience and dignity, the British shorthair is very unlikely to attack except in a playful and non-threatening way and is more likely to go for cuddles than for bites.

With that in mind, it's worth noting these quiet and sweet kitties are also a little bit manipulative. While they butter you up with their smooches, they will often push for things they want. Expect many requests for pets, food, and outside time, and make sure that you've got some space in your home and some scratching posts or cat-friendly furniture.

When the British shorthair gets wild, it sure as heck gets wild. After all, these kitties were originally utilized by the ancient Romans to destroy rat populations and keep parasites away from encampments. As such, they have a habit of launching themselves from room to room at high speed, scratching furniture, and generally making a nuisance.

All this having been said, the British shorthair is the perfect family cat. It's safe around kids, friendly and docile in its human interaction, and active enough to be fun and entertaining. What's not to love?

British shorthair cat size

British shorthairs are usually medium-sized cats, sitting at around 10–15 pounds per kitty. From head-to-tail, the average British shorthair is about 20–25 inches long and stands about 13–16 inches off the ground. As a result, while these cats can be quite bulky and very strong, they're not particularly big on a physical level, especially when compared to modern cat breeds like the Maine Coon.

British shorthair colors: Orange, blue, brown, white, silver, etc.

While the classic British shorthair is grey, they actually come in a variety of colors.
While the classic British shorthair is grey, they actually come in a variety of colors.  © Unsplash/Diana Parkhouse

The coat of the British shorthair is possibly one of its most defining features, both in terms of its texture and feel, as well as its color. In the end, the most famous, familiar, and widespread variant of the British shorthair is the British blue, a version that features a blue-grey coat that has become iconic among cat lovers.

Incredibly dense, the British shorthair's fur is unique. While thick, wooly, and unbelievably fluffy, they don't feature an undercoat. This means that when a British shorthair moves, you can often see the fur parting, in an effect that is quite interesting and very rare in cats.

While the British blue is the most common and well-loved variant, British shorthairs come in a range of colors and fur types/patterns. These coats can be tortoiseshell, bicolored, solid, tricolor, or even tabby. This makes the British shorthair one of the most versatile cat breeds in history in terms of their looks.

Cat's touching reaction to late owner's wallet has everyone tearing up!
Cats Cat's touching reaction to late owner's wallet has everyone tearing up!

British shorthairs can come in the following colors:

  • Black
  • Blue/Gray
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Ginger
  • White

While these are the most common British shorthair colors, it is still possible to find others with different colored coats. They are rarer, but they still exist.

British shorthair cat lifespan

At around 15–20 years, the British shorthair has a remarkably long life expectancy. This is one of the most extraordinary things about these kitties and likely due to their history. After all, traveling around as they did, the Romans would not have wanted cats that were liable to die all the time. As such, the British shorthair would have been chosen due to its reliability and long life.

It's worth noting, though, that any cat's lifespan is almost entirely reliant on how it has been looked after. Make sure to always feed your cat correctly, get it plenty of exercise, and give it a happy life free of stress, anxiety, and unease. While individual cats may have specific health issues that are unrelated to the way you have looked after them, a good diet and a happy life will never do any harm.

British shorthairs are curious cats that like to explore and investigate.
British shorthairs are curious cats that like to explore and investigate.  © Unsplash/Stephan van de Schootbrugge

How much is a British shorthair cat

Depending on the breeder or pet shop, you can spend a few hundred on the British shorthair or a few thousand. It entirely depends on the origin of the cat itself, including the breeding history, its age, and the breeder themselves. Higher-level British shorthairs have been known to go for as much as $4000-5000.

Try not to worry, though, because British shorthairs are some of the most popular cats in the world. As such, you can adopt them from most animal shelters completely for free. This is also recommended, as it gives a disadvantaged cat the opportunity for a new lease on life.

The history of the British shorthair is insanely interesting!

There are some remarkable cats out there, but few have a history as long and complex as the British shorthair. These fluffy little fellows are literal descendants of cats that lived in and during the Roman Empire. It's extraordinary that they have existed and survived as a breed for so long, and a testament to how fantastic they are as pets.

While there are other cats that might be more puffy and fluffy, and though the British shorthair can get a bit moody from time-to-time, there is simply no breed that compares to these beautiful kitties.

Cover photo: Collage: Unsplash/Indie Edmunds/Ani Adigyozalyan

More on Cat Guide: