These stunning gray cats are as English as they come - but you don't have to serve them tea and scones. British Shorthair cats are quickly becoming a feline fan favorite; their round chubby cheeks, expressive eyes, and soft, plush fur have put them the list of the top 5 most popular cat breeds in the US. And is it any wonder why these plump, plush pussycats are so popular?
British shorthair cats actually have a storied past as a breed, from ancient feline heritage to almost going extinct as a breed! Read on for six facts about these amazing cats.
1. They're descended from the cats of Ancient Rome.
The British Shorthair is one of the world's oldest cat breeds, tracing their lineage back cats that wandered the streets of ancient Rome. These cats were believed to have been imported to Rome from ancient Egypt. The Romans then took these cats with them when they invaded Great Britain in 43 CE. And the rest is hiss-tory!
2. British Shorthairs made their appearance at the "world's first cat show" in 1871
British Shorthairs came into the limelight thanks to Harrison Weir, the "Father of Cat Fancy." He began breeding the street cats and barn cats of Britain, the native cats, giving rise to the British Shorthair as a breed unto itself. He showcased the breed at London's Crystal Palace in 1871 at a national competition that is considered to be the world's first cat show.
3. They tend to get chunky.
Adult British Shorthairs generally weigh anywhere from 9 to 17 pounds, with females averaging 7 to 12 pounds. But this solidly built breed has a, ah, predisposition towards obesity. PetMD listed the British Shorthair as one of its "top 10 fat cats." Owners of British Shorthairs are advised to ensure their kitties get plenty of exercise, as obese cats can face an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other serious conditions. With their chill attitudes, it can be difficult to get British Shorthairs to get on their paws and exercise; try encouraging them with catnip. If that doesn't get your cat moving, a toy that encourages natural hunting instincts (to stalk, hunt, and pounce) might be a better fit.
4. A British Shorthair helped inspire the "I Can Has Cheezburger" era.
Perhaps the beginning of it all, the mother of all cat memes, a British Shorthair was featured in the original I Can Has Cheezburger? meme in 2007 by blogger Scott Nakagawa. It wasn't long after that lolcats was born - thanks to a British Shorthair!
5. British Shorthairs may have inspired Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat.
While this is more speculation than fact, many historians believe that the Cheshire Cat in Lewis' Alice in Wonderland was inspired by a tabby British Shorthair. If you look at the wide, round eyes, chubby cheeks and big grins (just look at the I Can Has Cheezburger cat!), is it any wonder where Carroll drew his ins-purr-ation?
6. The breed almost went extinct.
In the early 20th century, Persian cats and other longhaired breeds began to overcome the British Shorthair in popularity. So much so that cat fanciers actually stopped breeding the British Shorthair, especially in World War I and II, leading to a sharp decline in the breed's population. British Shorthair aficionados crossbred their British Shorthairs with Persians and other felines. The British Shorthair persevered and is accepted in cat registries worldwide.
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