The Brit’s progenitor was a common street cat once referred to as the European Shorthair. This breed (whose conformation is much different from the Brits you’ll see in show halls today) came to Great Britain some 2,000 years ago, courtesy of the Roman Empire. The Romans, who kept cats aspets and also as rodent control, transported this shorthaired breed to Northern Europe and eventually to their outlying provinces in the British Isles.
In the late 19th century, cat fancier Harrison Weir was instrumental in establishing the British Shorthair as an officially recognized breed. Through his efforts, Brits were featured in England’s first cat show at the famed Crystal Palace of London.
Body Structure:The breed has a large, compact body with a broad, strong chest and short, powerful legs. The head is massive, set on a short, sturdy neck. The face is round with round underlying bone structure, and the muzzle is well developed with a definite stop beyond the whisker pads.The broad nose has a gentle dip in profile.
Full cheeks give the cat a “cat that ate the canary” smile. The chin is firm and well developed.Placement of the ears is important in a show-quality Brit; the ears should be set well apart, fitting into the rounded contour of the head. The ears should be medium in size, broad at the base and rounded at the tips.
Eyes:The eyes are large and round; acceptable eye color depends on coat color (see below).
Coat:The coat is short and dense with a solid feel, but is not double-coated or wooly, which makes upkeep easier.
Color:Accepted CFA colors include Black, Blue, Cream, Black Smoke, Blue Smoke (all with either gold or copper eye colors); White (blue, gold,copper or odd eyes); Red, Brown, Blue, Cream Tabby (gold or copper eyes);Silver Tabby in the Classic, Mackerel and Spotted patterns (green or hazel eyes); and Tortoiseshell, Calico, Dilute Calico, Bluecream and Bicolor (all with gold or copper eyes).
In Great Britain, each color of the British Shorthair is considered a separate breed. In America, all recognized colors are considered color variations of the same breed.
Brits are quiet, undemanding cats with a bit of typical British reserve, particularly when they’re first introduced to you. When they get over their initial shyness, however, they become extremely faithful companions.