British Shorthair Appearance

british shorthair appearance

The British Shorthair cat is a medium-to-large breed, typically weighing 9-18 lbs. Males tend to be heavier than females, with the former often weighing more than 12 lbs and the latter less. They have a very stocky build and come in many colors, including white, cream, black, tabby, and calico. Learn more about this hunky cat breed below. 

Common FAQs

If you’re preparing to buy or adopt a British Shorthair cat, you should know what to expect in terms of its appearance. This way, you can be sure that your kitty is healthy and meets the appropriate breed standards. 

Below, you’ll find more information on the British Shorthair cat’s appearance, with answers to the most common questions on this subject. 

What do British Shorthair cats look like? 

British Shorthair cats are known for their large size, with their big, round eyes and dense coat. This is why many, including experts from the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), refer to them as “teddy bear” cats. 

Those round eyes sit atop a large head, topped by broad ears that are not as pointed or long as other breeds’. 

This is a medium-to-large breed, although they’re not as massive as the Maine Coon. They’re described as “sturdy” and “compact,” given their stocky build. These cats’ legs are relatively short and thick, a clear indicator that this breed was once seen as a working cat. (They were once prized for their hunting abilities.)

Some have called them the “Bulldog of the feline world” because of their meaty necks and powerful musculature. 

The British Shorthair cat is most well-known for the blue coat. (When talking about animals’ fur, “blue” typically refers to dark shades of grey.) However, there are several other colorations, including:

  • Tabby
  • Calico
  • White
  • Cream
  • Black
  • Tortoiseshell (bi-colored coat with color combinations that resemble a tortoiseshell)
  • Bi-color (one of the above solid colors + white)

British Shorthair lovers like to point out that the cat’s chubby cheeks and whisker pads create the appearance that the cat is smiling, contributing to its cuddly, inviting teddy bear look. 

How big do British Shorthair cats get? 

As mentioned above, British Shorthair cats are pretty big compared to many other cat breeds. They can grow quite large, but not as big as the Maine Coon. These cats usually reach 12-14″ in height and can be 22-25″ long. 

Remember that they’re a working breed, so although this body type doesn’t seem too imposing, they’re virtually all muscle. It’s easy to get caught off guard by their weight when you pick one up, so just be mindful of this before attempting to cradle one of these kitties. 

On that note, not all British Shorthair cats are that big. Like all breeds, some cats in this group fall on the smaller end of the scale. Since their coats are so plush and dense, it may be tricky to determine which are hefty and which are not. Still, you can almost always expect them to be proportionally muscular, no matter what. 

How much should British Shorthair cats weigh? 

The average British Shorthair cat weighs between 9-18 lbs. Females tend to weigh less than males. The CFA notes that males are often 9-17 lbs, while females stay within the 7-12-lb range. Note that while these cats are naturally muscular, there is no guarantee that they’ll maintain their bulky stature when left to their own devices. 

Perhaps due to their past as hunting cats, British Shorthairs love food. Plus, when living a domestic life, they can be rather lazy if their humans don’t offer enough opportunities for exercise. (In fact, a 2019 study comparing 19 cat breeds reported that British Shorthairs were the “least active” of them all.)

These two characteristics combined could wind up earning you a fat cat. So, do your best to keep your cat up and active, with activities like walking and playing. 

Why is my British Shorthair cat small? 

Breed standards are not hard-and-fast rules. There’s no guarantee that your cat will reach the maximum 18 lbs that the British Shorthair is known for. Heck, you can’t even know for sure that the cat will meet the minimum 9-lb expectation! 

If your British Shorthair cat is smaller than average, you shouldn’t worry too much. There are a few possibilities to consider in this scenario:

  • It’s mixed with another, smaller breed. If you adopted your British Shorthair cat, there’s no telling what its parents might have been. It may have all the exterior features of this breed, but its genetics may be mixed with other types, resulting in a small body size. 
  • Your British Shorthair cat is a female. As mentioned previously, female cats tend to be slightly smaller than males. If your cat is not as burly as you may have expected, the issue may be as simple as its sex. 
  • Your cat may have been the runt of the litter. Many domestic animals that give birth to litters have “runts.” These are the smallest babies in the bunch. In a book discussing dog breeding, Myra Savant-Harris explains that these tiny offspring are born this way because of a “poor implantation site in the uterus.” Your cat might grow over the years.

What age do British Shorthair cats stop growing?

British Shorthair cats will continue growing until they reach three years old. They’re a relatively slow-growing breed, which makes sense, given how bulky they are. Experienced owners report that kittens in this breed grow at an average rate of about one pound per month.

Their bodies require quite a bit of time to fill out. So, in the meantime, make sure to feed a healthy, consistent diet that won’t cause them to put on more fat than muscle. 

Are British Shorthair cats fat? 

British Shorthair cats are not fat. As stated above, these are very stocky cats, not because of fat buildup, but because of their dense muscle and thick, plush coats. Of course, this is not to say that British Shorthair cats can’t get fat. They can certainly put on weight because of their relatively low activity levels. To prevent your cat from getting too chunky, you can encourage it to play and use its renowned hunting instinct when chasing specialised cat toys or laser pointers.

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