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How to Tell if Your Cat Is a British Shorthair: 9 Effective Tips

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

british shorthair colorpoint

British Shorthairs are not a common cat in the United States. However, they are becoming more popular. It is rare to find one outside of a breeder, though. You usually won’t find these cats just wandering around animal shelters.

It isn’t impossible to find these cats up for adoption, but it can be difficult to determine if a cat is actually a British Shorthair or if they are a different breed altogether. Many people don’t know how to identify cat breeds correctly, which can lead to confusion.

There are a few ways to identify a British Shorthair. Most of these are not fool-proof, however. Often, you have to identify multiple traits that point toward your feline being a British Shorthair.

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How to Tell if Your Cat Is a British Shorthair

1. Check Their Head Shape

The British Shorthair has a chubby face. Their cheeks are full and their head is wide. They do not have a dainty, narrow head like some other breeds. Their ears are also quite broad and rounded. They don’t stick up that far but they wouldn’t be considered “short.” Their nose is short but not squished like a Persian’s.

Their face is often described as having oblivious expression. However, that can mean one thing to one person and something else to another. Some say that it looks like a smile. Others suggest that it looks like they’re upset all the time.

Chocolate British Shorthair cat
Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

2. Look for Short Legs

British Shorthairs have rather short legs. They are strong and sturdy, though. Their paws are often rounded and can be quite small compared to the rest of their body.

3. Look for a Sturdy Body

This breed has a stocky body. They are broad-shouldered and have a full chest. They are extremely sturdy, despite their smaller size. They are not dainty like some people might expect. They weigh just as much as some taller cats. Their tail is also extremely thick. It can be a bit short, though.

4. Determine Eye Color

A British Shorthair’s eyes are large and round. They look a bit like an owl’s in this manner. They tend to be copper or gold in color. This is a clear sign of a British Shorthair because other cats usually have more varying degrees of eye colors.

Occasionally, these cats will have blue or green eyes. However, this is rare.

british shorthair cat lying
Image Credit: Blue-Heaven, Pixabay

5. Check Their Coat

These cats have short coats that are quite thick, and they feel like they’re made for cold climates. This breed sheds heavily for this reason.

Usually, their coat is a grayish color. It can be various other colors too, though. For instance, some cats are white, black, or even calico.

6. Weigh Your Feline

All cat breeds are bred to be a specific size. If your cat is a British Shorthair, they should fit within the breed’s weight guidelines. Males are usually 9-17 pounds, while females are 7-12 pounds. If your cat falls within these guidelines, they may be a British Shorthair. However, there are many cats that fall within this range.

7. Do a DNA Test

Occasionally, you may be able to get a DNA test for your cat. These vary in accuracy, however. Basically, they take your cat’s DNA and compare it to the DNA of other cats. If it matches enough with a specific breed, they will assign that breed to your feline.

Of course, this may not always be accurate. The more DNA samples that a company has, the more accurate its test is. However, there is always the chance that the test will be wrong.

So, you may not want to rely on a DNA test completely. If your cat is obviously not a British Shorthair and the test comes back saying so, you should question the test. It is more likely to be wrong than your cat being a strange British Shorthair. However, if your cat looks like a British Shorthair and the test confirms it, then it’s probably right.

british shorthair bi-color
Image Credit: Oleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock

8. Observe Your Cat’s Personality

All breeds have specific personality traits that are common. However, all cats are also individuals, so their personalities can vary. Not all British Shorthairs act the same, even if they are the same species. That said, they do commonly have similar traits.

These cats are known for being extremely mellow. They are often serious and spend most of their time lying around. They aren’t particularly playful and have low energy levels. Furthermore, they can deal with a bit of handling, but they don’t particularly like being picked up. They are often affectionate, though they may not like strangers.

Usually, these cats get along with other felines and even dogs. These cats are simply too laid back to care about anything too much.

9. Pick Your Cat Up

These cats do often care about being picked up. They will protest, squirm, and complain. They usually are not comfortable being carried, no matter what you do. You may have a hard time carrying them at all due to their squirmy nature. Most of these cats also won’t like sitting on your lap.

golden british shorthair cat lying on a blue sofa
Image Credit: SunRay BRI Cattery RU, Shutterstock


Do British Shorthair Cats Meow?

There is some debate over whether these cats meow frequently. Some people call them very vocal, while others hardly consider them to be vocal at all. Therefore, you can’t use this as an accurate determination of your cat’s breed. It likely varies from cat to cat. It may even be determined within specific family lines.

These cats do meow. It is more of a matter of how much they meow. Most cats meow when they want something, such as food and attention. These cats will meow for similar reasons.

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British Shorthairs aren’t commonly cats that you find at an animal shelter. Typically, you must adopt them from a breeder. In this case, you’ll know exactly what kind of cat you’re adopting. You won’t have to worry about figuring it out.

However, if you do adopt a cat from a shelter, you may be wondering if they are actually a member of this breed. Usually, it is difficult to determine breed with any sort of certainty if you are not an expert, but you can look for a few different traits. This includes things like the roundness of their face and the structure of their body.

One of the most accurate ways to make a determination is with a DNA test, but even these aren’t always 100% accurate. In the end, you can make estimated guesses, but you’ll never be able to know for certain unless you have your cat’s pedigree.

Featured Image Credit: NickSu, Shutterstock

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