Relatively rare in the United States, the stately, round-faced European shorthair is instantly recognizable. Also called the British shorthair, they come from all over the European continent, not exclusively Britain. If you want a regal-looking cat who's smart and friendly, consider a British shorthair.
The origins of the European shorthair began with kitties that the Romans kept as pets 2,000 years ago. It's probably one of the first English breeds of domestic cat. The Romans kept felines to protect their food from rodents. They not only loved them because they were fabulous mousers, but because they were calm lap cats. These ancient kitties bred with the European wild cat that already lived there. These wild cats were tabbies, and most likely the reason why the European shorthair commonly displays the classic tabby trait of color swirls on his fur.
If you compare a British shorthair to an American shorthair, you'll notice that the British shorthair's face is rounder and smushed, kind of like a Persian's. During World War II, there was as shortage of British shorthairs. To keep the breed going, British breeders started to breed them with the more common Persian. Persians were more common at the time because they had had a surge in popularity. Eventually, there were enough shorthairs to begin breeding them again, but the flat, round face stuck around.
European shorthairs are known as cobby cats. This means he's stocky, with a wide chest and short legs. His face is broad and round and it distinctive shape gives him a constant Cheshire smile. His eyes are big and round, and his tail short with a rounded tip. Even his ears are small and round. He has none of the angular features of the Siamese. He's more like a short-haired version of the Persian. His short fur does make him easy to groom, only needing a brush about once a week.
Intelligent and Laid-Back
European shorthairs are known to be great family pets. His intelligence means he's easy to train, making him popular among cat trainers and often employed in movies and commercials. Along with being smart, he's a pretty cool cucumber. He'll be calm and reserved and not overly playful. While this makes him great with kids, it also means sometimes he might take a little quiet time to himself. He'll prefer to stay near to the ground and keep an eye on his friends and family. He'll be friendly and loyal, with a quiet demeanor. If you can find one, he'll make a great furry pal.
- The Encyclopedia of The Cat; Michael Pollard
- The Cat Fanciers' Association: British Shorthair Breed Profile
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images