The cat in Kipling’s “Just So” story may have walked by himself and felt that all places were alike to him, but most people who intend to share their lives with a cat need to know whether the cat is affectionate or not. Those of us who have cats know well that a loving cat will always make a house into a family home.
Are British Shorthair Cats Affectionate? Yes, British Shorthairs are friendly companions, rather than cats that adore cuddles. These relaxed and laid-back cats settle well into family life. They are relatively large cats who prefer to sit next to their humans rather than lie on a lap.
It’s true though, that these cats love spending time with their families and like to know what they’re doing. Mine accompany me on all my activities around the house and garden. I’ve found they bond very well with people and are excellent at making sure they share all their time equally around the family, so no-one feels left out. On the other hand, they will also bond very closely with people who live alone. This might make them sound like straightforward cats, but they have some deliciously quirky and entertaining aspects too, especially in the way they relate to people.
- How they show their affection?
- Can they play alone?
- What is so special about British Shorthairs?
I will answer all these and many more questions below, just read on.
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How do British shorthair cats show their affection?
It might be just a coincidence, but in my experience, British Shorthairs are – well, British! So, on the occasions my cats seem aloof, I know they aren’t really. Just like the stereotypical Brit, there’s passion and humour lurking under that cool exterior. And they don’t miss anything. They may sit there like the proverbial Cheshire cat with half-closed eyes, but they know when there’s some fish in the fridge and exactly how many minutes it is until the next meal. And so, when one of my British shorthairs comes and sits beside me, purring loudly, and puts a paw on my arm, that’s high praise indeed and a sign of great affection. Either that or the clock is ticking round to 5 pm and it’s time for that feed.
As you might guess, they do love the great indoors but will venture out into the garden when the weather is pleasant, changing their comfy indoor napping spot for a sunny outdoor one. Their finest moment comes in winter, though, when they’re cuddled up with me in front of the fire. The power of these purring teddies tells me that they’re right at home and their contentment is a finer show of affection than any cuddling or more obvious outward display of love. That’s because it’s the depth of trust that they show in their humans that sets this breed apart from many others.
On that topic, I’ve learned, as do all people who share their lives with British Shorthair cats, that they are not too fond of being lifted or carried, though they do their best to be tolerant of it. They are large cats anyway and should be properly supported underneath the rear end if you ever do lift them. It’s better, though, to let them choose the times they want to come and relate to you rather than try to obtain it on your terms. Give them space and time and they’ll most likely decide that the one thing they wanted to do was come and sit next to you anyway. When that happens with mine, we sit together in companionable silence – or near silence anyway, since there’s quite a bit of low-key purring goes on. It’s very relaxing and I sometimes find them looking at me as if they expect me to join in. And that leads on to how they socialise with other cats. In my experience, they do socialise well with others but are equally happy on their own as a single cat in a household. All cats are unique individuals even when they are members of a breed, but these cats do seem to be exceptionally well-balanced, tolerant and content as a general rule, whatever their domestic situation.
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A unique way to relate to people
Bearing this in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that each British shorthair cat has its own gloriously original ways of showing affection towards humans. While not generally great fans of cuddles, some are definitely cuddlier than others. They have their own unique approach to playtime, too. Being very poised and well-balanced cats, they are capable of making up their own self-contained games with a toy or even a leaf. It’s so interesting to watch them, as they can seem very solemnly absorbed in whatever it is has attracted them at that moment. Some British shorthair cats are given to bouts of frenzied activity as well. In between prolonged episodes of happy snoozing, they may spontaneously roll about on the sofa grabbing their tails, or gallop suddenly across the floor, make a leap up the back of the sofa and depart the room with a Zorro-like flourish. I suspect they are secret entertainers, though they hide it well under their self-assured exteriors and would never admit as much to a human. If they encourage you to join in their games by bringing you a toy or item they’ve found, then it’s a sign of their deep affection and regard for you. If you have lots of visitors, you might be wondering “does this trust extend to people beyond their immediate family?” The answer is that as tolerant and well-established members of the household, generally, they are very accepting of a social atmosphere. Like many cats, though, I find they prefer a little solitude when very young children or very demanding visitors arrive. They appreciate it when people understand their needs and make sure they are met.
How did they become so special?
Do you wonder where the British Shorthair cat acquired these unique characteristics? Like many breeds, they have an interesting history, even though some of it may be lost in the mists of time. One of the suggestions is that they were brought into Britain by the Romans, whose own domesticated cats may have had their origins in ancient Egypt. Wherever there were domesticated or feral cats, they lived alongside the human population, where they proved useful in keeping mice and rats away from food stores. Soon, the close relationship between cats and people was well established. Once in Britain, they may have bred with the native wild cats of the island, to add more unique characteristics to the mix. One thing was certain – cats and people now had a close relationship that benefitted them both. And that continues to this day.
Over time, the British cats developed into the charismatic British Blue, with its rich, plush fur, but the breed now comes in many colours. Did the British shorthair cats develop a particular character because of the British environment, or because of the people they lived alongside? It’s an intriguing question. Perhaps their love of comfort and human companionship is as a result of spending winter days snug indoors with their humans. Maybe that’s what makes them so self-sufficient too? I’m convinced that days spent gazing into the fire together are key to the strong bond between cats and humans. Certainly, British shorthair cats will have contributed to keeping our food supplies safe from pests in the past, but by the 20th century, it was the companionship that counted. It’s impossible to imagine a classic British kitchen or living room without a cat curled up on a chair by the fire, isn’t it?
British shorthair cats: quiet, yet definitely deeply affectionate characters
Most of my cats are not very vocal. There’s one exception – there’s always one, isn’t there? – but even he is not as noisy as other cats I’ve known. If you are used to a chatterbox of a cat, the relative silence of some British shorthair cats might make them seem a bit stand-offish. Not at all. They are just very cunning preservers of energy, who prefer to get you to do their bidding with a calm and penetrating stare, or a slight shift of the paw. After tea, they’ll jump up onto the sofa beside you and have a wash, while purring loudly. Believe me, that might not seem very affectionate, but it represents a deep appreciation for you, in pretty much the same way as British actors in old movies would say “Well done old thing!” to someone who’d just saved the nation from disaster. And with those round faces and instantly recognisable smiles, my British shorthairs always make me feel welcome when I return home, from the minute I step through the door. I love the way they get on with other animals too, particularly dogs, as long as they are cat-friendly dogs who aren’t over intrusive. In fact, my cats can be quite dog-like on occasions and enjoy coming out for a little stroll when it’s quiet. As long as it’s not too energetic, of course, and there’s the chance of a treat when they get back!