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British and American Shorthair Cats


The history of this breed dates right back to the Romans, where it is thought that the troops invading Britain brought shorthaired cats with them. Written records for the British Shorthair only go back to the turn of the century, but it's clear from paintings and engravings that they have been around for several hundred years before this.

These cats were probably originally kept for catching mice and they did not need grooming. They were very self-sufficient and provided a useful service to their owners, and it is recorded that most of the ships setting sale for the New World included cats on the cargo list.

The oldest recorded was a shorthaired tabby cat. Attractively marked with darker stripes or spots, the tabby's coat shows it's wild ancestry; the cats worshipped in Ancient Egypt were similar to tabbies. Tabbies are still very popular in shows today; but the newer Silver Tabby is more in evidence than the original Brown Tabby, which has been ignored in recent breeding programmes.

The self-coloured varieties of British and American Shorthairs are among the most popular, the most obvious being the Blue. They are also available in other colours and patterns; recent introductions include the Tipped, showing the coat markings of the Chinchilla, and the Colourpoint, a true British cat but with the distinctive restricted pattern usually associated with the Siamese.

Character and Temperament

British and American Shorthair cats can be some of the largest domestic cats, by they have a gentle and shy nature. They are loving and affectionate, have quiet voices and do not constantly demand their owners attention. They don't mind being confined to an apartment. If they have the freedom of a garden, they will not wander far.

Type and Standard of Points

British and American Shorthair cats should be large, strong, sturdy and muscular. The male cat is larger than the female. Neutered cats do have a tendency to obesity, so you need to keep a close watch on their diet.

The cats chest should be deep and broad with short, strong legs and neat, rounded paws. The head should be wide and rounded and in males should show definite jowls. In profile the nose should show a 'stop', and the jaw should show a level bite without any sign of being either overshot or undershot. The ears should be small and set wide apart. In all colours and pattern the coat should be short, crisp and dense but without appearing woolly; the only exception to this is in the Manx varieties.

The overall look for the British shorthair cat is for a chunky, cobby cat without the extreme facial expression of the Persian; it is usually accepted for the American Shorthair to be slightly heavier and in general longer than its British counterpart. The colours are almost the same as those for the Persian, with more colours for the American Shorthair cat than for the British.

Coat Colours - White

Although the colour should remain the same - an even, pure white - three eye colours can be found: orange, blue and odd-eyed. In a young kitten, the odd patch of darker colour on the top of the head is fine; by adulthood any such markings should have disappeared and if they remain, are considered a serious fault.

Coat Colours - Black

A glossy, jet black is the required coat colour. The colour should be solid to the roots, with no trace of rustiness, tabby markings, white hairs or patches. The eyes should be a deep copper without any trace of green.

Coat Colours - Blue

This is the best known of all the Shorthair cats; in Europe, it is known as the Chartreux. The coat should be blue-grey, without any silver ticking, and the colour solid to the roots. The eye colour should be deep copper, as in the Black.

Coat Colours - Cream

A pale-coloured cream coat is desired; this is hard to achieve and many cats do show a faint tabby or spotted markings. The eye colour should be deep copper.

Coat Colours - Chocolate

This should be a solid medium chocolate brown, and the eye colour should be copper.

Coat Colours - Lilac

A solid pink-grey with copper eyes. The Lilac and Chocolate are new colours brought about from the Colourpoint breeding programme.

Coat Patterns - Tabby

These are seen in three patterns: classic, mackerel and spotted, and are most often brown, blue, red and silver. Whatever the colour, the markings should be a much deeper hue than the background; for example, Brown Tabbies should have a sable background  colour with black markings, the Reds should have a rich red background with distinctively deeper red markings, and the Silver Tabbies a clear silver body colour with black markings. The eye colour depends on that of the coat; in Reds and Browns this should be copper or orange, and green or hazel in the Silvers.

Coat Patterns - Tortie

A good mixture of colours is desired in the UK, without a solid patch of one colour. The most popular and most commonly seen of this female-only variety is the Blue-Cream. They can be seen in a range of colours and the eye colour should be the same as that laid down for the main colour of the coat.

Coat Patterns - Tortie-and-White

These cats have been produced by mating a Tortie to a Bi-colour and are seen in the same number of colours as Torties. It is important for the white areas to be clearly defined, and the eye colour should be as for the Tortie.

Coat Patterns - Colourpoint

This is a recent colour variation engineered by breeders. The original cross was between a British Shorthaired cat and a Longhair Colourpoint, which resulted in early generations showing fluffy coats; this has been eradicated and Colourpoints today have typical British coats and types. They are available in all the colours seen in Siamese and have blue eyes.

Coat Patterns - Tipped

This is a shorthaired version of the Chinchilla's coat. The tips of the fur should be black with pure white underparts, the nose should be red outlined in black, and the eyes should be outlined in black. The Tipped are now bred in many colours, the pigmentation should be confined to the tips of the fur only.

Coat Patterns - Bi-colour

This is a two-tone cat, which can be any of the recognized colours and patterns acceptable for the British, but it must display symmetrical of white with the background colour.

Manx Cats

The Manx cat is different from all other British cats, as it does not have a tail. The type required for a Manx is less extreme than that required for most British and American cats. The Manx also has a longer nose. The coat can come in any colour or combinations of colours and is thicker and more prone to matting than other British Shorthaired cats, so they do require extra grooming.

Manx cats are seen in four forms: Rumpy, Stumpy, Tailed and Cymric. Rumpies have no tail at all, and for perfection, a small dip should be seen where the tail would have been; this is the only type of Manx cat recognized for showing in the UK. Stumpies have a small amount of tail, more like a bump at the base of the spine, and it is possible to have tailed varieties of Manx too. All Manx cats should have back legs which are longer than the front ones, which gives them their unusual rabbit like gait.

The Cymric is a longhaired variety of Manx and is rare, especially in the UK. In character and temperament, Manx and Cymric are just like other British varieties and make wonderful pets.



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British & American Shorthair Cats
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