Cheshire Cat Grin
To have a cat with “blue blood" that is easy to care of – is not that what adults and children dream about when they adopt a kitten? British Shorthair cats have become an embodiment of that dream for many people. It is they whom many Russians associate with the concept of a “pedigreed cat". What is the secret of their popularity? If you ask an owner of the British Shorthair, the answer will sound like a declaration of love.
Their appearance is fascinating: a round head with a large forehead, plump cheeks and eyes of the expensive-copper colour - just an opportunity to look at them makes you feel happy; powerful, strong body with thick legs and plush hair, to which you unwittingly draw your hands. The softness, the roundness, the “plushness" of these cats captures everyone! One is almost tempted to call the appearance of the British Shorthair by a word of the French origin - imposing (from the French “imposant") – impressiveness, grandeur, representativeness. “Cats-turn up their heads", “little athletes" - it's all about them, these seducers on velvet paws. British Shorthairs are the classics of cats' nobility. To see a British Shorthair and not to love it?! I will never believe it! Having caught the “British virus", you hardly ever get well...
The character of British Shorthairs disposes to communication; they are unperturbed, they are difficult to put out of temper. At the same time they are quite playful, and can suddenly come out from “dozing" to catch a fly or a butterfly. These cats are designed for living in an apartment or a townhouse; they respect limitations and obey the lifestyle of their owners. Good manners are in their blood. In particular, they idolize men, and it's mutual! British cats' devotion to their owners just strikes. They will not necessarily sit on your laps for a long time – they will more willingly lie down beside you, enjoy the intimacy and delight with their beauty. Infinite love to people, an ability to show their beauty and be proud of it, constant unobtrusive “control" over the family life, and “feasible participation" in your affairs – these are also advantages of the British Shorthair. They are touchingly loyal, sociable ... “The only thing my cat cannot do is speak" - any owner of a British Shorthair will tell you so, and you cannot but believe him.
Do British Shorthairs have any disadvantages? Just a few, or namely only one: late development - the inherent qualities of the breed develop only by the age of three years. But one can talk endlessly about their advantages!
Where do British Shorthairs Come From?
England is an island state isolated from the continent. Therefore there were conditions under which the ancestors of British Shorthairs were able to develop autonomously, without mixing with other breeds. The first heavy shorthair cats probably got to England with Roman legionnaires. Cats were needed to protect fields (which were planned to be sown) from rodents - that is, for the benefit, and not for love. Cats lived not in houses, but in fields and in warehouses.
Upon liberation of England from Roman intervention, the British Isles were in economic isolation, which affected cats: the population was left without infusion of fresh blood, which resulted in certain genetic features, which are unique to the British Shorthair: a heavy type, a massive body, calm temperament and intelligence. Thanks to the latter qualities, British people began to take home these cats. We can assume that this was the time when the British Shorthair began to from.
At the end of the XIX century, Harrison Ware selects the most beautiful cats with short hair at his farm to show them at London's Crystal Palace in 1871. In 1889, the British Shorthair was officially recognized. In 1901 the Shorthaired Cat Society was created. However, by the beginning of the XX century “cat fashion" had changed - exotic and elegant cats got famous: Persians and Siamese of various colors. Clumsy-looking British Shorthairs were only of the blue colour at that time, which also reduced the interest to the breed.
During the Second World War, the British cats faced the same hardship and shock. Breeders could neither feed them, nor save. Over those years, the genetic base of the breed suffered, many begetters died. That is why, they began to crossbreed British Shorthairs with Persians after the Second World War. Was it a “good marriage"? First, thanks to the crossbreeding, the breed that was on the verge of extinction was saved and restored. Second, the British Shorthairs got a powerful body, a vast palette of colors and a more rounded look from the Persians - that is exactly what attracts fans of this breed today.
Modern Trends and Problems of Development of the British Shorthair
Increasing the variety of colours of the British Shorthair, breeders remember breed standards. British Shorthairs are large, heavy animals. But it's not 10-15 kg! And if somebody tells you while offering a kitten that its parents weigh 14-15 kg, you should doubt, because it's the weight of a 3-year old child! Have you ever seen a British cat of a three-year-child size? British cats are harmoniously composed, stocky and broad-chested, and they are evaluated at shows in accordance with the breed standard, not with a steelyard.
Are there animals ideally meeting the breed standard? Alas, this is just a breeder's dream, but one should strive for it! Experienced experts in felinology point out the following breed problems: a smaller size and a shorter body (more like semi-cobby instead of a rectangle on short thick legs); irregular head balance – often flat foreheads and prominent cheekbones, often narrow noses and aquiline noses, nasolacrimal duct obstruction, very often high ear placement, even if auricle is small; tail coning. When the animal is of a solid colour, the hair is often not of a single colour in the depth, and there is residual tabby (not only in the childhood).
We can see several types of the British Shorthair at Russian shows. The old classic one is extremely undesirable for competent breeders, but cats of this type are still born very often, and they are often bought by beginners. These animals have a somewhat stretched body, high and not too thick extremities, and most importantly, hair is too close to the skin, and the head is narrow with a not very prominent shift from the flat forehead to the long nose, which gets narrower to the nasal planum. The next type is a transitional one. That is the way I imagined the British Shorthair, when I wrote the above description of the animal. An extreme type is rare; fortunately, there are few such animals. Fortunately, because British cats of this type are characterized by some “too exotic features", which are unnecessary for this breed and lead to malocclusion, respiratory impairments, excessive lacrimation due to abnormality of the structure of nasolacrimal ducts. These defects interfere with the aesthetic perception of the animal. This is a dead-end species, because a beautiful animal is a healthy animal, but not a sniffing, a crying one having problems with food intake!
Solid or Tabby: Who is More British?
If we talk about fantastic colour varieties of British cats, silver ones, which are called “Whiskas", “in honor of" well-known advertising of cat food, are now very popular. It is believed that the most round-headed, stocky and plump-cheeked cats are those of solid colours - blue, black, cream. I do not agree with this approach to judging, when experts use the standard in full only in relation to monotonous animals. British cats make up 60-70% of all the exhibited animals in Novosibirsk. British Shorthairs have been loved in our city for 18 years.
Over these years, a lot of the brightest representatives of the breed have been born, and it is difficult to answer the question, how many cats and of what colours have been born in Novosibirsk. Most experts judge in accordance with the breed standard, but not the colour, and this is right! It is believed that tabby cats are worse than solid ones. Of course, it is wrong! I have seen these “cats-turn up their heads" of both, solid and silver colours. If you do not believe me - get acquainted with the livestock of British cats of the Korolevskaya Dinastia Club. Kittens born in our club are willingly bought by lovers of the breed from other cities and countries. And victories of these kittens at exhibition bring the deserved fame to their breeders and the whole city.
Reverse Side of Popularity
It is also a problem characteristic of the British Shorthair. Its popularity has actually led to commercialization, and as a result to emergence of such “breeders" who do not work to improve the livestock, but just increase the number of kittens for profit. This leads to a gradual deterioration of their quality, violation of standards. And while 14 years ago I told prospective future owners of a British cat that this is a cool cat, now I often warn people against buying a kitten just resembling the British Shorthair... Unfortunately, there are people who keep a few cats of this breed, not because they are very fond of them, but because their kittens are sold well. They just do not think about correspondence to breed standards and cats' lovely temperament.
It happens that a British kitten is offered at a quite low price. As a rule, in such cases the life conditions and feeding of the cats leave much to be desired. Breed qualities of such a kitten will disappoint its owner in the future; the owner will have to wait for a long time, when his cat's cheeks will grow, its hair will get plush, and its body will get muscular. Buying a kitten, please, remember that the disappointment over poor quality lasts much longer than the joy in a low price.
Mercedes and Diamonds of the Cat World
Everyone wants a British Shorthair! Especially before holidays - as a gift to a child or to a beloved lady. During such“hot" periods there is great demand for cats that only remotely resemble real representatives of the British Shorthair. Customers do not stop hearing the legend that documents for kittens were not executed in the club for some “good reason". In such a situation one remembers the famous proverb “it is a piece of paper that makes the difference". Only a cat having documents is considered a pedigreed one! A pedigree, a birth certificate – these are not just a piece of paper with letters; these documents help us, professionals, to tell you about the ancestors of the kitten, about their peculiar behavioral traits, about inherited diseases and other important things. The birth certificate contains contact details of the breeder who is always happy to answer any questions regarding the kitten's growth, if necessary. People, who are rushing to buy a pedigreed cat as a gift, should remember that the festive event will end very soon, but the cat will live a long life, so they should think twice before choosing a cat.
I advise you to look at the parents, life conditions, feeding of the kitten, get acquainted with the documents of origin. As a rule, presence of “high-flown" advertising phrases in newspaper ads is just a cry from the heart of a man, who has numerous kittens running around his house. Pet owners of a really high level have stable demand for their kittens and rarely place their ads in media - the mere look of these kittens and their parents speaks about their pedigree and good life conditions!
When the first question of a prospective buyer is about the price of the kitten, I say: look at the kitten, may be, you will not like it and will not spend a cent for it. But speaking seriously, British Shorthairs are too popular, and it is easy to find a cheap kitten at one of the “family cat farms". It is more difficult to buy a good kitten - unfortunately, these are born much more rarely. And when a person buying a British cat for the first time learns that the cost of a good kitten is equal to his monthly salary, it is necessary to render examples. For example, a Mercedes cannot be bought at the price of a domestic car, and a kitten with excellent pedigree is different from a kitten with no pedigree. But the number of Mercedes cars can be increased if there is demand, but the number of kittens is determined only by nature! If I had a “kitten factory", I would produce a lot of kittens of the best quality, but everything in felinology is determined by the laws of nature, and breeders can only slightly affect the quality of kittens using their best begetters. Women will better understand an example with precious stones: somebody will buy a lot of rings with zircons, but somebody will not spend money for the cheap shine and will save money for a longer period to buy an exclusive diamond. The same happens with pedigreed cats – somebody will find comfort in the thought that he has bought a kitten of the “show class" for 3-5 thousand rubles, having believed the breeder, but somebody will enjoy admiring a perfect creation of nature, the price of which is known only to the breeder and members of the kitten's new family.
Having arrived at a show or a breeder's home to choose a kitten, pay attention not only to the health and the temperament of the kitten. Look at the seller! If the breeder speaks very fast carefully praising the kitten, naming high titles of its parents and so forth, ask documentary evidence of his words. “The world champion or the universe champion?" Let them show you the certificate of this title issued by a felinological association! “Its parents come from ..."? Look at the pedigree, it contains the details of the issuing organization. And if the breeder tells you about the weight of the kitten's father or the grandfather - 15 or even 17 kg - just ask to see such a miracle, which is worth of the Guinness Book! Believe me, a good breeder whose kittens have often become winners at large shows, where competitive animals are exhibited, will not waste time persuading the buyer. He will not see the sense in it; if the buyer looks at a highly pedigreed cat, any words are senseless!
Cat of the Dream
Sometimes, when the buyers have already visited “some catteries", we hear phrases like “well, we thought all breeders live in mud and awful smell"... It's a pity. Cleanness of the house depends primarily on the housewife: you can have no cats, but turn the apartment into a barn. Keeping cat in a city apartment is a culture. The period of “wild" breeding has long gone, there has begun a new stage of development of the beautiful breed, which has withstood the test of time and fame.
British Shorthairs are worth of adoration not because they are actively bought, but because they have nice character and charm hidden behind the powerful body! We are proud of our cats, we love them, and spoil them - these nuggets, these jewels, British cats, full-fledged members of our families. Loving us, giving us a piece of its heat, purring us songs in Siberian cold evenings, this cat has become “more expensive than silver and gold" for many people. It is a large and a kind cat having a warm belly that sometimes attracts you to kiss it, to feel the atmosphere of a fairy tale, comfort, to escape from reality for a time.
Moreover, British cats always smile! In fact, it is a characteristic feature of the breed - a surprised look resulting from large round eyes, which produce the impression of naivety and slyness. The whole world dreams about the Cheshire cat's grim from the fairy tale “Alice in Wonderland" written by Lewis Carroll. This British Shorthair cat with a smile hanging in the air never ceases to make us dream!
president of elit cat club «Korolevskaya Dinastiya»,