Knowing the history of the breed British Shorthair is the first step in understanding their unique characteristics. After all, this is one of the popular pedigreed domesticated cats in the region. This cat’s friendly temperament definitely helps in winning the heart of cat lovers all over the UK. Its popularity may also be brought about by the fact that it was used as the inspiration for the Cheshire Cat in the famous story of “Alice in Wonderland”.
But where exactly did this cat originate from? Did it come from somewhere and what was the earliest record of it being alive?
The origins of the British Shorthair
The history of the breed British Shorthair is believed to date way back to the 1st century AD. This date makes it one of the most ancient cat breeds identified in the world. Despite its name, this cat did not originate in the UK. It was actually brought here by the Romans – back when they were invading.
It did not originate from the Romans either. They are believed to have originated from Egypt. The British Shorthair used to be the domestic cats of the Egyptians. But when it was brought to Great Britain, cat lovers fell in love with this pedigree. The original cats that were brought here bred with the local wildcats in Europe.
Over the years, the descendants developed into what we know of the British Shorthair today. It now has a short yet thick coat and a distinctly large body.
The British Shorthair through the years
When the 19th century rolled in, the history of the breed was not done in its development. Breeders selected the best of this pedigree to try and strengthen their best traits. They wanted to develop a blue-grey variant. They refer to this as the English type or the British Blue. It was meant to distinguish the cat from the Russian type, which had finer bones. It is not clear who started standardising the breed – if it was Harrison Weir or another group of breeders. One thing is for sure, the British Shorthair, the one that we know today, was first featured in the very first cat show that was organised by Weir. This was back in 1871.
In the 1890s, the emergence of the Persian cats and the long-haired cats pushed this breed from the spotlight. Breeding the British Shorthair decreased where World War I happened. During this time, breeders tried to mix Persians with the British Shorthair. This was how the British Longhair pedigree came to be.
Over the history of the breed, it had been paired with other ancient cat breeds to produce other pedigrees. At first, it was because there was a shortage of the pure breed. However, over time, the number of British Shorthairs multiplied one again. With that came another burst of popularity for this particular breed of cat – making it one of the most preferred cat breeds in UK households.