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... the british shorthair ...

HISTORICAL OUTLINES

The origin of the modern British Shorthairs is to be found in ancient Egypt. 

It is from here that the local cats (Felis Lybica) arrived in Great Britain, on board the Roman ships where they were used to protect the hunger cargo from the rats. It was also on land that these animals revealed themselves to be remarkable hunters, and for many years, as strays, continued in this important feat, whilst in the meantime mixing their genes with the local European cats on the territory. As time went by this gave the Felis lybica more muscular, rounded features as compared to the original standard. 

For centuries, our future friend had only this social function, until, in 1871, something changed… 

A great fan of feline breeds, Mr. Harrison Weir, decided to present the first feline exposition which we have news of, at the Crystal Palace in London. He selected the most beautiful stray cats and presented them to the public at the show. He himself was a judge and his cat “ The Old Lady” (this was her name), at the ripe old age of fourteen, won first prize: she was a British Shorthair!

 This name was given to the breed to diversify it from the other breeds which were present on the British territory, such as foreign Oriental cats or Angoras. 

During the first years of the first century, the British Shorthairs were now appreciated and were put on show at many feline expositions, always claiming great success by winning the prizes offered. The birth of the first club of lovers of this magnificent breed, the BCC (British Cat Club), dates back to 1901.  

This sudden, but praiseworthy popularity also contributed to the exportation of many specimens from Europe right to America, and therefore became widespread. 

Shortly afterwards because of the imminent disturbances due to the two world conflicts, the rearing of this magnificent breed came to a sudden halt, but was safeguarded thanks only to the great passion of a few breeders. Amongst these we remember Miss Kit Wilson, who, during the years of the Great Depression and of the Second World War was able to somehow carry on with the selection of our four legged British friends. 

After the Second World War, because of the scarcity of pure breed specimens, and the closeness of relationships, it became necessary to cross Shorthairs without pedigrees with other short haired breeds, such as Burmese, Russian Blue, and Carthusian, with the intent of finding the characteristic traits of the native British thus safeguarding its health. As a result the breeders had to cross their own specimens of British with others of the Persian breed. The result of this further cross-breeding was that of the strengthening and rounding of its features and also to widen the range of colours of its coat, thus leading their evolution towards the one we know today.  

The resemblance between the British and the Carthusian, spurred the breeders to make crosses between the two races and therefore the F.I.Fe. decided to unify the standards. In 1977 though, because of the disastrous outcome, the same International Feline Federation, made a distinction between the two races once and for all and categorically banned the breeding of hybrids. 

ITS NATURE

The British Shorthair is an extremely strong and robust cat that does not need particular looking after or attention. Special attention must be paid to its grooming, especially in the moulting season, because in this particular moment its thick and compact fur must be brushed frequently. 

It is as physically solid as it is psychiatrically, very poised, it never gives in to hysterical crisis and never raises its voice, does not scratch or bite because of anger or fear. At most, will bite whilst playing, but always taking care not to hurt its partners in games. 

This mental stability means that it does not have destructive streaks (thinking about sofas curtains, or similar). Lives well with other animals, and when left alone for many hours during the day, it is advisable to make it live with another British Shorthair with which to keep company with. 

Our friend has also been given a great sense of independence, is very proud and has an inward sense of dignity. It loves being with company and follows its human life companions all around the house, almost like a puppy, finding improbable resting places but which let him keep an eye on all members of the family. It does not like to be held for more than is necessary, but usually prefers to decide itself when the time has come to be cuddled, which usually always leads to an unstoppable need to purr. 

It is definitely more tied to family members than to the place where it lives: this makes it adapt easily to new circumstances and journeys. It loves to travel, and uses the occasion to explore new horizons letting out all of its inborn curiosity. 

It is an extremely patient cat and above all shows this peculiarity when with children: instead of showing anger or hurting them, it would rather leave and go and hide for a moment and hide in a place where no one can aggravate it. 

As mentioned earlier, it is a cat with a great instinct for hunting. While staying at home, it runs wild chasing flies and anything similar, proving (but not always with excellent results…) that blood is thicker than water! It loves to play and chase a ball and can learn to fetch and bring small objects, just like a little dog! 

It is a quiet, loving, sociable cat, always very thoughtful and very cool and living in symbiosis with the family makes it happy and appeased. 

The British Shorthair is particularly indicated for “Pet Therapy”, and has also been given nick-names such as “teddy bear-cat” for the way it looks or “ The laughing cat” because of the curious expression on its face.

 

STANDARD

Measurements: medium - large.

Appearance: robust, with strong bones and muscles.

Size: male 6-7 kg. female 4-5 kg.

Head: round and massive with a wide skull. Its neck must be short, massive and well developed.

Ears: large at the base and rounded at the top, not big.

Eyes: big, round, of an intense, brilliant colour. The colours varies according to the colours of its coat: the British Blue’s eyes being orange, golden, copper.

Nose: Short, wide and straight. There is a small dint but there is no typical stop, for example in the Exotics.

Body: From medium to large, large muscles. Evident sexual bimorfism: the female is a lot smaller than the male.

Tail: wide at the base and thin towards the end which is rounded.

Legs: muscular with medium to heavy bones, rather short.

Coat: very full, thick and dense. Not excessively soft, but “crisp” and pleasant to the touch.

 

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