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American Shorthair Cat vs British Shorthair Cat: Pictures, Differences, & Which to Choose

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

The American Shorthair cat and the British Shorthair cat may seem the same with name variations depending on where they live. However, these are two completely different breeds and should not be confused with one another. Each of these breeds have a rich history and background of its own.

While they both have some similarities, they have many differences too. We have put together this guide about the differences between the American Shorthair cat and the British Shorthair cat so that you can better understand their unique qualities. Here is everything you need to know about these two breeds and their differences!

Visual Differences

American Shorthair Cat vs British Shorthair Cat
Image Credit: Left: American Shorthair Cat: Clement Morin, Shutterstock | Right: British Shorthair Cat: Maleo, Shutterstock

While both the American Shorthair cat and the British Shorthair cat look similar, there are some differences to note at a second glance. First, the American Shorthair’s ears are more rounded than the British Shorthair’s ears. The British Shorthair’s eyes are larger, and the head is rounder than that of the American Shorthair.

The American Shorthair cat is typically stockier than a British Shorthair cat, but not by much. The American Shorthair is usually a little taller than the British Shorthair as well. Both cat breeds come in a wide range of different colors and patterns, including tricolor and tortoiseshell.

At a Glance

American Shorthair Cat
  • Origin: Unknown
  • Size: 10-15 pounds
  • Lifespan: 15-17 years
  • Domesticated?: yes
British Shorthair Cat
  • Origin: Rome
  • Size: 10-15 pounds
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Domesticated?: yes

American Shorthair Cat Overview

The American Shorthair cat is believed to have come to North America with settlers from Europe. This cat breed is even thought to have traveled on the Mayflower! This breed has a long history and is still one of the most popular cats in the United States. They have excellent rat hunting skills, making them a valuable part of family households and on farms.

These cats are easy to care for due to their independent nature. However, they do enjoy spending time with their human companions at home – especially when snuggling is involved. These playful cats like interactive toys and scratching posts, so plenty should be available around the house. They also do not mind living with other companion cats.

American shorthair cat
Image Credit: Clement Morin, Shutterstock

Characteristics & Appearance

The Cat Fanciers Association puts strict conformation rules on this breed. These cats should have large heads, slightly rounded ears, large, wide eyes, and be slightly longer than tall. These cats have broad bodies and thick legs that look muscular and strong. While they are strong, they are not necessarily athletic. They spend as much time lounging around as they do being active.

These cats are large, weighing up to 15 pounds when fully grown. As their name suggests, they have short, fine fur that needs little grooming to stay clean and healthy. They come in various colors including sable, lilac, chocolate, tortoiseshell, and tabby.

american shorthair cat
Image Credit: Lalandrew, Shutterstock

British Shorthair Cat Overview

The British Shorthair cat is one of the largest breeds found in the United Kingdom. It is said that these cats were brought to Britain from Rome somewhere around 400 AC. Like the American Shorthair cat, the Romans brought the British version to help kill the rats and other pests that would wreak havoc on the farmlands.

The British Shorthair cat is independent yet loving, curious yet well-behaved, and athletic yet snuggly all at the same time. These are diverse cats that will keep you on your toes and keep you company with interaction and conversation when you’re spending time at home. While they like to talk, they are considered quiet compared to other talkative breeds like the Siamese.

british shorthair cat lying on sofa
Image Credit: Pickless, Shutterstock

Characteristics & Appearance

British Shorthairs have strikingly bright, almond-shaped eyes, short and pointed ears, and round heads. Their bodies are thick and mighty, and they are susceptible to becoming overweight and showing rolls on their necks and bellies. These cats have long whiskers, dark triangular noses, and they seem to have a thorough understanding of our world which some people attribute to their ancient ancestry.

This cat breed has a short, thick coat that requires a simple regular brushing to maintain the coat. Like the American Shorthair cat, this breed can weigh up to 15 pounds once they reach adulthood. They walk with intent, are not shy around strangers, and enjoy spending time with kids and other cats.

british shorthair cat on grass
Image Credit: Maleo, Shutterstock

What Are the Main Differences Between the American Shorthair and the British Shorthair?

Aside from just differences in looks, there are some personality and temperament differences between the American Shorthair and the British Shorthair breed. First, the American Shorthair seems more independent and less curious than the British Shorthair. The British Shorthair is generally more active than their American Shorthair counterparts. Also, the American Shorthair needs less overall grooming than the British Shorthair, although neither needs much grooming at all.

Which Breed Is Right for You?

The breed you choose to bring home as a family pet should be based on the activity level and amount of interaction you prefer. If you want a more involved cat that talks some and looks forward to spend time with family members, the British Shorthair cat is probably for you. If you want a more independent cat that can happily spend the day at home alone, consider the American Shorthair cat. Make a list of pros and cons for each breed to help you figure out which breed would be the best match for your family.

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Featured Image Credit: Left: American shorthair cat: Lalandrew, Shutterstock | Right: British Shorthair Cat: Pickless, Shutterstock

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