Colour: The traditional, and most popular colour for the British Shorthair is Blue. Black is also one of the earliest colours. Today, however, almost every colour is accepted and the list has grown longer and longer, year by year.
The modern pedigree British Shorthair has been developed from the ancient British working cats whose ancestors arrived with the Romans somewhere between the first and fourth century AD.
Domestic Breed: The modern pedigree British Shorthair has been developed from the ancient British working cats whose ancestors arrived with the Romans somewhere between the first and fourth century AD.
Appearance: A sturdy, muscular cat with a massive, broad head, rather short neck and legs and thick tail. The coat, although short is dense and plush. The pedigree version of this cat is an altogether stockier, heavier animal than the typical domestic pet shorthair.
History: It is difficult to be certain of the precise date that domestic cats arrived in Britain. During the Roman period there were many wild cats in the country, and it is not always easy to tell from skeletal remains whether a particular animal was wild or domesticated. There are some feline footprints impressed into tiles in the foundation of a third century temple in Roman Chelmsford. It has been argued that these are unlikely to have been made by wild cats, but we cannot be certain.
One of the earliest known examples of an undeniably domestic British cat was discovered during excavations at Lullingstone in Kent. There, in the basement of a rich man's house dating from the second half of the fourth century, there was a skeleton of a cat that had perished in a fire. Its bones and teeth clearly showed that it was a domesticated specimen and not a trapped wild cat.
During the sixteen hundred years that followed, the domestic cat survived as a pest-controller, despite repeated, systematic persecution and torture by pious Christians, who believed that the feline body housed the spirit of the devil. Eventually, in the Victorian era, cats were at last treated as appealing household pets.
With the advent of competitive cat shows, starting in 1871, the best examples of the British working cats were selected and developed as pedigree animals. A large number of colour forms was soon available . These short-haired animals dominated the earliest cats shows because the long-haired breeds were so new and were outnumbered by about ten to one. By 1896 however the longhairs has become the favoured breeds and were given the place of honour at all shows.
By the turn of the century it was reported that the short-haired cats were 'in a very small minority'. So popular were the new longhairs that there was at one point a danger that the old, original shorthairs might have been completely eclipsed. However, dedicated supporters came to their rescue and in 1901 the Short-haired Cat Society was formed to promote them. Since then they have always had a significant part to play in competitive cat showing.
In Continental Europe there used to be no difference between the British Shorthair and what was referred to as the 'European Shorthair'. The British breed clubs had been the first to develop shorthairs as pedigree cats, so they had precedence over the Continentals and many of the first pedigree 'European Shorthairs' were, in fact, imported British Shorthairs. But then the Continentals began to develop and improve their own shorthair cats and, in 1982, a distinction was made between the two breeds. After that, inevitably, they began to diverge. Today, the main differences are that the British Shorthair has a cobbier, sturdier body and a heavier, wider head.
Personality: Terms used to describe this breed include: hardy, good-natured, calm, affable, loyal, intelligent, reserved, prosaic, stolid, loving, untemperamental, tranquil, dignified, independent and affectionate.
Colour forms: The traditional, and most popular colour for the British Shorthair is Blue. Black is also one of the earliest colours. Today, however, almost every colour is accepted and the list has grown longer and longer, year by year:
GCCF: SELF COLOURS: White; Black; Chocolate; Lilac; Red Self; Blue; Cream.
TABBY(Both Classic and Mackerel): Red Tabby; Brown Tabby; Blue Tabby; Chocolate Tabby; Lilac Tabby; Cream Tabby.
SILVER TABBY: Silver Tabby; Blue Silver Tabby; Chocolate Silver Tabby; Lilac Silver Tabby; Red Silver Tabby; Cream Silver Tabby.
TABBY AND WHITE: Brown Tabby and White; Blue Tabby and White; Chocolate Tabby and White; Lilac Tabby and White; Red Tabby and White; Cream Tabby and White.
SILVER TABBY AND WHITE: Silver Tabby and White; Blue Silver Tabby and White; Chocolate Silver Tabby and White; Lilac Silver Tabby and White; Red Silver Tabby and White; Cream Silver Tabby and White.
SPOTTED: Brown Spotted; Blue Spotted; Chocolate Spotted; Lilac Spotted; Red Spotted; Cream Spotted;
SILVER SPOTTED: Silver Spotted; Blue Silver Spotted; Chocolate Silver Spotted; Lilac Silver Spotted; Red Silver Spotted; Cream Silver Spotted;
TORTIE TABBY: Tortie Tabby; Tortie Silver Tabby; Tortie Spotted; Tortie Silver Spotted.
TORTIE: Tortie; Blue-Cream; Chocolate Tortie; Lilac Tortie.
TORTIE AND WHITE: Tortie and White; Blue Tortie and White; Chocolate Tortie and White; Lilac Tortie and White.
BI-COLOUR: Black and White Bi-colour; Blue and White Bi-colour; Chocolate and White Bi-colour; Lilac and White Bi-colour; Red and White Bi-colour; Cream and White Bi-colour.
SMOKE: Black Smoke; Blue Smoke; Chocolate Smoke; Lilac Smoke; Red Smoke; Cream Smoke; Tortie Smoke; Blue Tortie Smoke; Chocolate Tortie Smoke; Lilac Tortie Smoke.
SMOKE AND WHITE: Black Smoke and White; Blue Smoke and White; Chocolate Smoke and White; Lilac Smoke and White; Red Smoke and White; Cream Smoke and White.
TIPPED: Black Tipped; Blue Tipped; Chocolate Tipped; Lilac Tipped; Red Tipped; Cream Tipped; Black Tortie Tipped; Blue Tortie Tipped; Chocolate Tortie Tipped; Lilac Tortie Tipped; Golden Tipped.
SELF POINTED: Seal Colourpointed; Blue Colourpointed; Chocolate Colourpointed; Lilac Colourpointed; Red Colourpointed; Cream Colourpointed;
TORTIE POINTED: Seal Tortie Colourpointed; Blue-Cream Colourpointed; Chocolate Tortie Colourpointed; Lilac Tortie Colourpointed;
TABBY POINTED: Seal Tabby Colourpointed; Blue Tabby Colourpointed; Chocolate Tabby Colour Pointed; Lilac Tabby Colourpointed; Red Tabby Colourpointed; Cream Tabby Colourpointed;
TORTIE TABBY POINTED: Seal Tortie Tabby Colourpointed; Blue-Cream Tabby Colourpointed; Chocolate Tortie Tabby Colourpointed; Lilac Tortie Tabby Colourpointed.
CFA: White, Black, Blue, Cream, Black Smoke, Blue Smoke, Classic Tabby, Mackerel Tabby, Spotted Tabby, Silver Tabby, Red Tabby, Brown Tabby, Blue Tabby, Cream Tabby, Tortie, Calico, Dilute Calico, Blue-Cream, Bi-color.
1981. Lauder, P. The British, European and American Shorthair Cat. Batsford, London.
British Shorthair and Tipped Club. Address: Rowan, Shas Lane, Uppermill, Oldham, Lancs., OL3 6HP, England.
Short Haired Cat Society. Address: Highridge, Parsonage Hill, Somerton, Somerset, TA11 7PF, England.
Note: In America there is a breed publication: The British Shorthair Newsletter. Address: 17275 Hammock Ln, Ft. Pierce, Florida 34988, USA.
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