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All about your British Shorthair

Outgoing and intelligent, with teddy bear good looks.

British Shorthairs are mild-mannered, known for their easy-going nature and soft coat. Learn more about this affectionate, adaptable cat, from his grooming and exercise needs, to the things you can do to keep him happy and healthy.

British Shorthair Cat Rolls On Furry Cover

Breed information & advice

One of the oldest and most popular breeds in the UK, the British Shorthair is easy to train and good with all the family. Calm, reserved and undemanding, this cat doesn’t really like to be carried around and his independent nature makes him well-suited to a busy household.

  • While the British Shorthair is affectionate, he’s pretty laidback and will prefer to sit beside you rather than on your lap.
  • You’ll need to groom him weekly to keep his beautiful, thick coat in good condition.
  • Typically he will weigh between 4kg and 8kg, when fully grown.
  • A healthy British Shorthair will usually live for 15 to 20 years.

Typical size of a British Shorthair

Medium - Large

Despite being a sturdy and muscular cat, it’s important that your British Shorthair still gets enough exercise and a well-controlled diet to help him stay healthy. He only has moderate energy levels, but will be more active as a kitten, settling down as he gets older.

When it comes to exercise, encourage play and try to get him catching fishing-line toys. Not only will this be a fun way for the both of you to bond but you’ll also get him moving.

Feed your British Shorthair good quality cat food each day - read the packet for information on quantity, as this will vary depending on his age and size. However, as he’s a more relaxed breed, take care to make sure he doesn’t become overweight as this could cause health issues.

Alongside his food, make sure there is a bowl of drinking water readily available, and be aware that some cats are lactose intolerant, so cow’s milk may give him an upset stomach.

Loving and quiet companion

The British Shorthair is one of the quietest cat breeds, but responds well to play, so try to dedicate some time each day to keep your cat mentally and physically active.

Face On British Shorthair Runs Through Foliage
Walking British Short Hair Cat With Blue Fur

Common health problems & illnesses

British Shorthairs are generally healthy cats but they’ll need regular check-ups and vaccinations to stay in good shape. There are some conditions that this breed may be more prone to, and it’s worth being aware of the main symptoms, so you know what to watch out for.

1. Hyperthyroidism

British Shorthairs are susceptible to hyperthyroidism, a common glandular disorder caused by an over-production of thyroid hormones that affects the metabolism. It’s more often seen in older cats and some of the symptoms to look out for include weight loss despite an increased appetite, panting and restlessness. If you have any concerns about this, contact your vet who will advise on treatment, which may include medication, surgery or radioactive iodine therapy.

Hyperthyroidism accounted for 6% of Tesco Pet Insurance claims for this breed in 2015.

2. Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy relates to any disease that affects a cat’s heart muscle, and can affect this breed. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is one of the more common of these heart conditions and causes thickening of the heart’s muscles, making it more difficult for the organ to relax between contractions. Keep an eye out for any signs in your cat such as loss of appetite, weakness or difficulty breathing. Speak to your vet, who will be able to do a full examination and advise on treatment options, if you have any concerns.

3. Cystitis

Cystitis (an inflammation of the bladder) is a common ailment that can affect both male and female cats. It can be caused by a range of factors including stress, diet and bacterial infections. If you notice your cat is going to the toilet more, straining to urinate or has any blood in the urine, you may want to speak with your vet as these could be signs of cystitis. If you notice these symptoms in a male neutered cat, it’s important to seek emergency veterinary treatment. Antibiotics, pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed to help treat the condition.

4. Kidney Conditions

More often seen in older cats, kidney disease has a variety of causes including infection, cancer and toxins. Kidney disease can be acute or chronic, but it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs as the kidneys are vital in helping the body to function. Look out for symptoms including vomiting, increased urination and thirst, weakness and bad breath. Depending on the extent of the condition, your vet will advise on treatment, but may recommend medication or changes to your cat’s diet.

5. Arthritis

British Shorthairs may experience arthritis (inflammation of the joints), which is more common in older cats and can cause discomfort. Look for any changes in your cat’s behaviour and mobility, such as a wariness to jump or be handled, aggression and hiding away. Make an appointment with your vet if you suspect arthritis, as they will need to take an X-ray of the affected areas. Your vet may prescribe special anti-inflammatory drugs and advise dietary or exercise changes.

Cat name popularity

If you’re struggling to think of a name for your British Shorthair, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Pet Insurance for inspiration.

Cat name popularity

Average treatment costs

Wondering whether pet insurance for your British Shorthair is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Pet Insurance customers in 2015, and the average cost of treatment.

ConditionAverage treatment cost
Road traffic accident£771.82

Tesco Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/01/15 to 31/12/15.

Considering British Shorthair insurance?

We know your cat is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Pet Insurance.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Grooming advice

As his luxurious coat is short and smooth, you will only need to brush your British Shorthair once a week to remove any loose or dead hairs. Be sure to wipe his eyes with a soft, damp cloth to get rid of any discharge. It’s also a good idea to use a different cloth for each eye as it helps to avoid passing any infections across.

It’s important to try to keep on top of his dental hygiene - brushing his teeth daily can help prevent periodontal disease. You may also need to trim his nails on a weekly basis to keep them from becoming overgrown and hurting the pads of his feet, and to help stop them from damaging your furniture. Introduce grooming to him as a kitten so he can get used to it and it can become part of his routine.

Fun & interesting facts

  • One of the oldest cat breeds in the UK, the British Shorthair’s ancestry dates back to Ancient Rome.
  • Blue is the favoured colour, with the ‘British Blue’ becoming a well-known name for the breed.
  • The breed is one of the most popular in the UK.
  • Famous in literature, the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is based on the British Shorthair breed.
  • Fairy tale character Puss in Boots, portrayed in DreamWorks’ animated film Shrek, with the voice of Antonio Banderas, is also based on a British Shorthair cat.

Important information


The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.


Vetfone™ is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you an expensive trip to the vet.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

Discover more breeds

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