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Norwich Bulletin - 4/30/2006

The British Shorthair

People from England seem to have distinct personalities. They have a reserved demeanor with a dry sense of humor that we often fail to understand. Many times we mistake the Englishman as being aloof. So too, do many people, mistake the personality of the British Shorthair, a breed that also hails from the shores of Britain.

The British Shorthair has a calm, steadfast nature and they are very much social animals. They will curl up next to you while you are watching television or reading a book and usually want to be in the same room you are in. They will watch you cook, sprawl across your newspaper to share some quality time with you and very much be a part of your family – they just do it quietly, compared to the busier breeds.

The British Shorthair is a large cat, well balanced, strong and muscular. They are a compact cat and they are round: Large, round eyes, rounded wide set ears and a round face. Their chests are broad, medium legs and they have, short, thick necks. The best trait of this cat is the grin. Because of the way the whisker pads are shaped, they appear to always be smiling. The most usual color you will see in the Brit is blue (which is actually a shade of steel gray), but all colors and patterns are accepted.

The International Cat Association even accepts the pointed British shorthair. The coat is thick and plush and was developed to protect the cat from Britain’s harsh weather. But even though it is thick, the British Shorthair’s coat is velvety soft to the touch. It is thought that as lovable as this breed is, the reason they are not literally lap cats is because their unusually plush plus their human’s body heat, causes them to feel really hot. So while they may start out on your lap, they may quickly end up next to you or on the arm of your chair or couch, as close to you as they can get, without actually touching you.

The British Shorthair had its start as the street cats of England. It is thought that they had their start roaming the countryside centuries ago, during the time of the Roman conquerors. Lewis Carroll’s famous Cheshire Cat has a distinct resemblance to the endearing mischievous face of the Brit, including its famous smile. However, once this breed transitioned from the streets to the house, they were quite content to live inside and share the furniture, proving the theory that they are indeed, very smart cats!

Because they are one of the bigger breeds, people tend to assume they are not playful. This is definitely a misconception. British Shorthairs are extremely playful, they are just fussy as to what they will play for and if it is worth their while. They interact well with humans and other pets. They do not seem to have a problem with dogs or other cats and are said to be one of the best breeds as far as getting along with children. They tend not to hide from the kids in the household; they simply stay out of their reach.

The British Shorthair’s care is similar to any cat’s care. It is suggested that you begin grooming your kitten right from the start, so they get used to the whole brushing procedure. The hair is thick and you need a comb with pretty sharp teeth. An adult British shorthair probably only needs a good brushing once a week. Quality food, fresh water, regular veterinary care, exercise and quality time are all necessary parts of having a healthy, happy cat, be it a British Shorthair or any other cat. Most cats are adopted through shelters and pounds, and they deserve the same care and love.

While there are no guarantees in life, the British Shorthair is a breed that is known for it’s good health. Of course, you should still go to a reputable breeder and question them about the cat’s parents and history.

I have never owned a British Shorthair, but I have judged them in several cat shows and I have friends who own them. I love what I call the “squishy” breeds (definitely not a cat show term) and they are one of those type of cats. They feel like a beanie baby and I think of them as a comfortable cat. I am told that once you are owned by a Brit, you always feel there is something missing, if you do not have another in your home. For more information you can log onto www.breedlist.org for breeders in your area.

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