The British Shorthair is considered one of the oldest cat breeds. They date back to the times when Romans occupied Britain and brought cats in to control the rodent populations. Thus they are considered working cats and are good hunters if given the opportunity. The population thrived, living on farms and in storage sheds.
Once the Romans left, Britain became isolated from the rest of the world and no new cats were imported. They bred freely among themselves and the result was a cat with a sturdy, muscular body and thick, plush coat.
In the late 1800s, cat fanciers in England recognized that their native cat was attractive and worthy of recognition. In 1871 the world's first cat show was held in London's Crystal Palace and the British Shorthair was introduced. They took home many awards and in 1889, the British Shorthair became a distinct breed and given its pedigree.
During World War II, the breeding of British Shorthair cats decreased drastically due to food shortages. The breed almost became extinct. In order to restore the population, breeders crossed British Shorthair cats with Persians since it was the closest in type. Persians at that time didn't look like the cats we have today. This resulted in other colours and patterns than just the traditional blue.
British Shorthair cats have a muscular body with fairly short legs. They are described as cobby, or short and thickset, stocky. They have a broad, round head with a short nose, but not snubbed like the modern Persian. They have full, chubby cheeks, which make them look like they are smiling. They also have large, round eyes, which are the only thing you'll see when a blue Brit is sitting in dim light. You can see how Lewis Carroll's illustrator used the British Shorthair as the basis for the Cheshire Cat. It also leads to many an offended cat when they are accidentally stepped on or kicked when walking in a dim hallway. Surprisingly, I've discovered that the silver cats aren't much easier to see...
British Shorthair cats have a dense thick coat suitable for the cold, wet winters of England. Indeed, I have found that they don't mind rain all that much, unless it's a downpour. I do get a chuckle when they cry to be let out only to find a hard rain or the very cold temperatures of winter. Often they will brave the conditions only to come back in a minute later, upset at the climate outside. Their coat is also very soft.
British Shorthair cats are loyal to their human family. They are calm and confident. These characteristics mean that you can often walk them on a leash and they will sit there calmly staring down a barking dog. As with all animals, and humans, they are individuals and you will find that not all British Shorthair cats exhibit this behaviour. I have been able to walk all my cats, but some aren't as calm as others. I find that getting them outside on walks while they are young really helps. However, British Shorthairs do not like to be picked up. As TICA puts it in their breed profile, "they prefer to maintain their dignity with all feet firmly on the floor."
They are also very quiet. The females are more independent than the males. Some males are downright mushy! They will jump up into your lap for a scratch or curl up and go to sleep. The females will be similarly affectionate when they are kittens, but will become more independent. You'll find them quietly sleeping nearby, or at the foot of your bed, but not in your lap. You'll probably find they come by and brush against your legs, looking for a scratch. Their calm and quiet temperament makes them well suited for apartments, as long as you don't have the temperature too high. They are also good with children for the same reasons.
My objectives are to breed healthy cats by importing cats from other countries to diversify our cats in Canada and to produce well socialized cats that really show off the breed's qualities. Living in downtown Toronto dictates that we will have a small cattery, limited to six adults. Our cats are not caged, even though that causes some stress when our females are in heat. We use diapers, stud pants, an enclosure in the basement and separate rooms so we can restrict mating. They don't mind the diapers or stud pants actually, which was a pleasant surprise. We do have a large enclosure under the stairs in the basement which we will use when one of our queens has a litter.
Our backyard has high fences to keep the cats in when we let them outside. There are some low spots, so we have to monitor them closely in case they jump up on the fence to check out the neighbourhood. We supplement these outdoor excursions with walks on a leash, which Ada in particular really enjoys.
Visits to the cattery are restricted to the time when you are picking up a kitten. This is to reduce the possibility of introducing a virus and for security reasons. We recommend doing some research on the various breeds before you decide on a pedigree cat. You’ll find that buying a pedigree kitten is a little different than adopting a cat from a shelter or getting a moggie from a neighbour. We have to be very careful about diseases because once a disease has been introduced to the cattery, we’re done. It’s very hard to sterilize a house well enough to get rid of the infection. All our cats and kittens are FIV and FeLV negative.
Getting a purebred means that you know exactly what you’re getting, so that helps as well. There is still a question of personality and whether the kitten accepts you. We let our kittens pick their human. I help clients choose a kitten based on the characteristics they’re seeking and the personalities of our kittens. This usually results in a good match, but if that doesn’t work out, then we will introduce other kittens if we have more than one that hasn’t been reserved. We also bring out the parents for you to meet. We do ask visitors not to visit other catteries or have contact with other cats, other than their own, on the day they come to visit. We also keep all the other cats and kittens isolated and bring the animals to the visitors to meet.
You can reach us by public transit or car. There is free street parking right in front of our house. We'll provide directions when we make arrangements for you to pick up your kitten.
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