British Shorthair breed information

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 Intelligent, laidback and cuddly, there’s a reason why the British Shorthair is one of the most beloved breeds of cat in the UK. 

  • British Shorthairs are a calm and placid breed, who can live well with other pets
  • Health issues such as arthritis, hyperthyroidism and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can affect the breed
  • They require minimal exercise but need the right food to avoid weight gain


Their relaxed demeanour and loyal nature make the British Shorthair a great addition to any household. This also means they’re often tolerant of any other pets you might have.

From the British Shorthair’s personality and temperament, to their general health and diet, find everything you need to know about this beautiful breed in our guide.


British Shorthair personality

A typical British Shorthair is the strong and silent type, as they’re not the most talkative of cats.  But what they lack in chattiness, they make up for in affection, as they form strong bonds with their owners.

They’re generally quite content to laze around the house throughout the day, making them an ideal indoor cat. However, the British Shorthair’s temperament and tendency to chill out means weight gain is common.  

They’ll still be eager to explore, though they’re unlikely to venture too far from home.  British Shorthairs generally mature later than other breeds , meaning their smart nature is accompanied by a kitten-like playfulness for longer.

Did you know?

The British Shorthair was once known as the British Blue because in the 19th century they were selectively bred in that colour. 


British Shorthair cat

British Shorthair Health Facts

Whether you’re buying a British Shorthair for the first time, or want to better understand your cuddly companion, here’s a few health facts you should know:

Size: Medium 

Lifespan: 14-20 years 

Coat: Lush and thick – will need regular grooming during moulting season 

Exercise: Fairly inactive but need space around the home to explore and relax 

Common health problems and illnesses

As with any cat breed, pedigree or cross, British Shorthairs can develop health problems that any owner should be aware of. Some are common in any breed, while others the British Shorthair is specifically more susceptible to.


Caused by an over-productive thyroid hormone, this condition can affect their metabolism and is normally seen in older British Shorthairs. Look out for weight loss, despite a seemingly increased appetite.


Inflamed joints can cause real discomfort and get progressively worse if not treated. Most often seen in older cats, arthritis can lead to mobility troubles and limping.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Affecting the muscular walls of the heart, HCM can cause a rapid heartbeat and breathing problems in cats. Watch out for panting or laboured breathing.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Cysts develop in the cat’s kidneys, sometimes leading to failure.  Thankfully, DNA testing is now available to breeders, which means a pedigree British Shorthair is unlikely to have the condition.

British Shorthair Nutrition and Exercise

Managing your British Shorthair’s diet is relatively easy. They’re slow to mature, which means you should feed them kitten food up to at least 12 months old – sometimes beyond that age.

While they’re a kitten, try to stick to the same food. Changing their diet can cause them to have an upset tummy, the last thing you want to happen when they’re small.

Once they‘re older, focus on feeding them nutritional food several times a day, to help keep their joints supple.

Because a British Shorthair trait is to prefer reclining to roaming, it’s important to monitor how much they eat – rather than making sure they exercise. Take care to feed them the recommended portions, as specified on the cat food packaging.

Remember, always provide them with plenty of fresh drinking water – this is vital when you’re trying to keep your cat cool during summer. 

Did you know?

The British Shorthair is the most popular pedigree breed of cat in the UK?  It outranks other beloved breeds like the Bengal and Siamese cats.

British Shorthair Pet Insurance

The cost of a British Shorthair cat insurance policy depends on their:

  • Age
  • Breed

The premium you pay also depends on the type of cover you want to take out for your cat. At LV=, we always look to explain pet insurance as simply as possible.

Protect your loveable British Shorthair with LV= pet insurance and start your quote today.

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All content is approved by our in-house advisory board of experts.