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Calico British Shorthair Cat: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Calico British Shorthair

If you’re looking at getting a cat, two options are always extremely popular: the calico pattern, and British Shorthairs. But did you know you can combine this adorable color pattern with this super adorable cat?

But how long have people been doing this, where do calico British Shorthair cats come from, and what other interesting facts are there to know? We’ll answer those questions and more for you here.

The Earliest Records of Calico British Shorthairs in History

While it’s hard to find the earliest records of a calico British Shorthair, it’s not hard to find tons of records about British Shorthairs in general. And since calico cats are simply a color combination, albeit rare, it’s fair to assume that calico British Shorthair cats have been around for nearly as long as the British Shorthair itself.

There are two theories about where British Shorthairs originated. The first theory involves Roman legionnaires that brought the cats to the island over 2,000 years ago. While the term “British Shorthair” doesn’t appear in these early records, there are descriptions of cats that match what a British Shorthair looks like.

The other theory involves French traders bringing the cats to the island in the 16th century. Whichever history is accurate, today you can find British Shorthair cats all over the world.

How the Calico British Shorthair Gained Popularity

Whether the Romans or the French brought the cats to England it didn’t take them long to grow in popularity. They’re excellent hunters with sharp eyes and have a high food drive, and their outstanding ability to catch prey made them highly sought-after cats.

This outstanding hunting ability paired with their calm and royal demeanor charmed them into the hearts of people throughout Britain. Today most British Shorthair owners aren’t overly interested in their hunting prowess, but their cute appearance and calm demeanor still make them a popular choice throughout the world.

The calico coloring only adds to their unique and beautiful appearance, making this rare color combination one of the most sought-after, especially since it’s a rarer color marking.

Formal Recognition of the Calico British Shorthair

The British Shorthair is a breed with a ton of history, and nothing quite highlights this like the fact that it first appeared in the very first cat show in London’s Crystal Palace. This occurred in 1871, and since then other formal cat associations have quickly added the British Shorthair to their list of formally recognized breeds.

Moreover, the calico color pattern is an officially recognized color pattern for the British Shorthair, so there’s no reason you can’t get a calico British Shorthair if you’re willing to spend a little more for one!


Top 4 Unique Facts About the Calico British Shorthair

If you’re looking into getting a calico British Shorthair, there’s no shortage of interesting and unique facts to learn. We picked four of our favorites for you here, but there are plenty more for you to sift through and learn along the way!

1. Almost All Calico Cats Are Females

It’s a complicated mix of genetics and color patterns, but the short reason for this is that to have the calico tri-color coat a cat needs to have two X genes. Since only females have two X genes, almost every calico cat has been a female.

British Shorthair calico cat
Image Credit: Coleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock

2. Alice and Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat Is Likely a British Shorthair

If you’ve seen Alice and Wonderland, you know all about the Cheshire cat. And if you put it up next to a British Shorthair, it’s an uncanny resemblance. While there’s no official recognition of this, all it takes is a look at the cat to see where the inspiration came from!

3. British Shorthair Cats Are Hunting Cats

While most people think of British Shorthair cats just laying around all day, at their core, they’re hunting cats. This explains why they’re so food-driven, and it explains why they don’t want to waste a ton of energy until there’s something to catch and eat!


4. The British Shorthair Is the Most Popular Cat Breed in England

While the British Shorthair isn’t the most popular cat breed in the world, in England it’s not even close. They come in all shapes and sizes, but if you go to England, there’s no shortage of British Shorthair cats there.

Does the Calico British Shorthair Make a Good Pet?

Between their calm demeanor, laid-back personalities, and adorable appearance, calico British Shorthair cats make outstanding pets. You’ll need to spend a little more to get one, but there’s a reason the British Shorthair is one of the most popular cat breeds in England.

The biggest thing you’ll need to look out for if you get one is ensuring they get enough exercise. They don’t need a ton, but if you don’t take the time to play with them and get them moving they’ll happily pick a single spot or two throughout your home and sleep there all day and night!


You’re not likely to find a more adorable cat than a calico British Shorthair, so while you might have to spend a little more to get one, we think they’re worth every penny. Now that you know a little more you can decide if one is right for you, or if you just want to adore them from afar.

Either way, they’re great cats with a rich and interesting history, and hopefully, you can appreciate it all a little more now!

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Featured Image Credit: Ashley McCauliff, Shutterstock

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