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
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
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
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