The History of the British Shorthair

The British Shorthair origins begin with cats imported from Egypt that accompanied the Romans when they invaded Great Britain. One of the first breeds of the cat fancy, they have changed little over the centuries. As the breed developed, crosses were made with the Persian between 1914 and 1918 introducing the longhair gene. Cats with short coats were part of the British Shorthair and cats with longhair went into the Persian breeding programs. Early on, the blue shorthair consisted of two distinct types: the sturdy, compact British with its round head and the long, elegant Russian with its triangular head. The two types competed together and were interbred before finally separating into unique breeds.

After WW1, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) declared that only 3rd generation offspring of Persian/British Shorthair crosses could be shown. This reduced the breeding stock and the advent of WW II also affected the breed. After WW II, the British Shorthair lines were all but lost so breeders crossed with domestic shorthairs, Russian Blues, and Persians among others. The British Shorthair has grown in popularity since then and gained championship status in TICA in June 1979. While longhair kittens sometimes appeared in litters, it languished in obscurity as a breed. Today, the imposing British Longhair is a fitting companion breed to the British Shorthair resembling the Persians and Angoras of the early 1900s, obtaining championship status in TICA effective May 2009.