British Shorthair Vs American Shorthair

You might think that all shorthair cats have the same qualities. However, that’s not the case, and it can be downright perplexing when deciphering between certain breeds.

Adding to that perplexity is the domestic shorthair, which is your typical cat developed by mixed ancestry, not recognised by any major breed registry and not to be confused with the American or British Shorthair.

So then, what sets these two breeds apart from one another?… read on to discover.

Characteristics and Origins

American Shorthair

  • Characteristics:

An American Shorthair has a thick and compact coat. With an undercoat, their coats will become denser during the winter months for warmth, and come in over eighty colors.

They are not as soft as the British Shorthair. These cats have a medium to large muscular build, round face and ears, and wide-set eyes in colors of blue, green, and shades of gold.

  • Origins:

The American Shorthair cat is thought to have evolved from Europe when they were brought to North America by early settlers. They used these cats on the ships to protect cargo from rodents.

When these ships reached land, many of these cats crossbred, developing additional features to help them acclimatize and survive the ways of their new land.

American Shorthair – Wikipedia

British Shorthair

  • Characteristics:

Like the American Shorthair, the British Shorthair also has a thick coat in colors ranging from solid shades of grey, white, black, cream, and red to cinnamon and tabby colors.

They have no undercoat, lending to a luxuriously soft texture, with a ripple-like appearance. The British Shorthair is larger in build than its counterpart and has round features such as its head, eyes, ears, and face.

  • Origins:

The British Shorthair cats were also used for controlling the rodent population when they were imported from Egypt by the Romans in an effort to keep their camps clean from vermin.

These cats cross bred with Europe’s feral cats and developed into a larger breed with a thicker fur to better withstand the elements of their new home. 

British Shorthair – Wikipedia


British Shorthair

British Shorthair cats are a mellow, easy-go-lucky breed. They are very loyal to their owners and get along well with children and other animals.

These cats are not as active as other breeds and would prefer to sit by their owner’s feet rather than on their lap.

They don’t mind spending time on their own for extended periods and are very welcoming to their owners when they arrive home.

American Shorthair

Like the British Shorthair, the American Shorthair cats are also mellow, easygoing, and don’t mind being left alone.

They will form bonds with more than just one family member and have a high level of tolerance, making them a perfect pet for those who have children.

They would also make a wonderful companion for single people or those who have to leave their homes for short periods of time, as they don’t require constant attention.

This breed has a higher level of energy and tolerance, making them a great pet for those who have children.

Size and Weight

British Shorthair

The British Shorthair is a well-built, stocky-looking cat with a vast chest and thick legs. These cats don’t reach their full development until the age of three, which is slow compared to other breeds.

Like many breeds, the male is larger than the female and weighs approximately nine to seventeen pounds; the females weigh anywhere from seven to twelve pounds. 

American Shorthair

The American Shorthair is similar in build to that of the British Shorthair with its muscular body, round face, and short ears.

Just like the British Shorthair, the American Shorthair males are larger than the females weighing anywhere from eleven to fifteen pounds, with females weighing between six to twelve pounds.

This breed’s rate of physical development is comparable as well; usually between three and four years. 


British Shorthair

This breed has a life expectancy of fourteen years, but can live for as long as twenty depending on its health. Like other breeds, they are prone to a couple of health conditions.

One of these conditions is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and is responsible for the decrease in the heart’s efficiency due to the walls of the heart’s thickening.

Cats may have this condition without displaying symptoms initially; while others may show signs, such as open-mouthed breathing and lethargy as the disease progresses.

There is no known cure for this condition, which is why genetic testing is so important.

Treatment to prolong the quality of life is usually done with medication.

British Shorthairs also have the potential to acquire polycystic kidney disease, another genetic disease characterized by many fluid-filled cysts present in the kidneys, eventually leading to their failure to function.

Symptoms can include a large abdomen, bloody urine, and lethargy. There is no cure for this disease and is treated with the use of medications.

American Shorthair

The American Shorthair has the potential to acquire hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but other than that, these cats are a strong and healthy breed with a life expectancy of fifteen years or longer.

How to take care of British Shorthair and American Shorthair?


British Shorthair

The British Shorthair cat sheds, but not as much when compared to other breeds. They have no undercoat which helps to keep shedding minimal.

They will benefit from brushing at least once a week. Both the British and American Shorthair are seasonal shedders.

American Shorthair

Grooming is important when owning an American Shorthair. They are moderate shedders, but shed more in the spring and fall, and require routine brushing to keep their coats healthy and maintained.

Regular nail clipping and ear care should be practiced as part of the routine grooming practice.


British Shorthair

Because of their laid-back disposition, the British Shorthair may be prone to gaining weight, especially as they get older.

A portion control bowl is always a good idea as opposed to dumping a vast amount of food in the bowl at once. A healthy diet; high in protein, healthy fats, and one not containing added fillers is recommended.

Check the ingredients listed on the food label and make sure that meat is the first ingredient listed. 

American Shorthair

The American Shorthair has a high level of vitality and may need more carbohydrates to sustain that energy, especially if they are outside cats.

Food containing protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega 6 is recommended for this breed.

Fun Facts

British Shorthair

  • Named America’s most popular cat breed in 2014
  • The CFA recognized this breed in 1980
  • A British Shorthair became an internet sensation in 2007, when it was featured in a meme titled, “I Can Has Cheezburger?”
  • British Shorthairs are well known for being seen in international news stories
  • In 2011, a 12-year-old British Shorthair by the name of Smokey was stated to have the world’s loudest purr, until 2015 when another cat broke his purring record having a rating of 67.8 decibels
  • PETMD rated this breed as one of the fattest cat in 2011 
  • Registered breeders in the US charge upwards from $1500 to $2500

American Shorthair

  • Great hunters
  • Friendly
  • Gets along with other animals
  • Recognized as a breed by the CFA in 1906
  • Named one of the top ten cats
  • Originally known as the domestic shorthair, renamed to American Shorthair in 1966
  • This breed can range in price from $500 to $1500, depending on the breeder
  • Seventh most popular breed in the US

Final Thought

The American Shorthair has a lifespan of fifteen to twenty years and would be ideal for any family situation. They adapt easily and generally get along with other animals and small children.

The British Shorthair also has a lifespan of up to twenty years and enjoys their alone time. So if you are looking for a cat who would do well on its own while you are out, then this breed would be ideal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts