Differentiating between a British & American Shorthair

By Valdette Muller| June 28, 2015 | Blog

Many years ago, when the Romans still ruled the world, the Shorthair breed travelled to the British Isles. Years later, some of these gentle-mannered cats stayed behind and some travelled all the way on the Mayflower to the then British colonies in North America. Hence today, thanks to the travelling Romans and America’s founders, two related but distinct breeds exist; the British and American shorthairs.


The British Shorthair, or British Blue as they are also known, is a smaller and more compactly built breed, with a plush, silvery grey coat. They have appealing broad faces with lovely round eyes that give them a very distinctive and almost stuffed animal-like look.

American Shorthairs are less royal and more working class by comparison. Their job enroute to America was of course to keep the mouse and rat population under control and they were and still are perfectly suited for that. They have strong bodies and are extremely agile, which is why rat chasing suits them. Their coats are short, thick and can be a variety of colours including tabby and tortoiseshell although the best-known colour is the silver tabby.

The British Shorthair is most loved for their endearing personalities. They’re laidback, clever and entirely devoted to their slaves. While they’ll play, these cats aren’t terribly energetic and won’t act silly or over the top to be in the spotlight. In fact, they’re generally undemanding and content to melt into the background.

British Shorthairs are even royally understated in their displays of devotion and will often follow you around wherever you go, but without being a lap cat. They also prefer to initiate contact rather than being picked up or smothered with love. Being near you is quite enough and if they really want your attention, they’ll give your hand a gentle head-butt to let you know.

American Shorthairs are mildly active and can become quite obese if not encouraged to exercise. Like the British Shorthair, they’re independent and can spend a lot of timeamerican-shorthair-02 without human contact, as much as 8 hours at a time, which makes them ideal for people with little time to pay attention to a pet.

American Shorthairs tend to get on well enough with other animals and even dogs. However, because they are such good hunters, any small family pets like mice, hamsters and pet rats are at risk of becoming lunch. They make great family pets and are good with children.

Both breeds require little grooming, although regular brushing will control shedding, which the American Shorthairs are prone to do. British Shorthairs are usually hypoallergenic because they typically produce little to no dander.

There are no specific health concerns and both breeds are considered healthy compared to other types of cats.

Both the American and the British Shorthair make lovely family pets because they are such mellow creatures with the gentlest of hearts. They are low-maintenance animals from a grooming and healthcare perspective and will get along with all the species in the family. It’s no wonder then that these are two are among the most popular breeds on the planet.


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