At first glance, the British Shorthair and Chartreux cat are very similar. They are both solid cats, often with handsome solid-grey fur and amber or coppery eyes (although the British Shorthair can have many other colours).
They’re both noted for being friendly, social and good as house-cats. When you know a little more about them, you’ll see they’re actually quite different. Both are very handsome cats – but there’s more to a feline companion than good looks, especially if it’s your first. In this article, we’ll learn more about these two special breeds and what sets them apart.
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What you need to know about British Shorthair cats
Often called the teddy-bear cat, these felines really live up to their nickname. It’s easy to fall head-over-heels in love with their big round eyes, cheerful faces and good-natured personalities. They’re not exactly lap cats, preferring to snuggle nearby rather than colonise your knees; however, they do seem to like a tummy-rub much more than any other breed I’ve encountered.
The British Shorthair has a husky, muscular frame (known as “cobby” in cat fancier parlance), stocky limbs and rounded paws. Their heads are somewhat brachycephalic but without the pronounced flattening of the facial features seen in Persians and similar breeds. Instead, the British Shorthair has a rounded head with chubby cheeks and widely spaced ears. Their coats are fascinating: a single layer with a delightful “crisp” texture. Their coat and eye colours vary. The classic colouration is the British Blue, which has a solid blue-grey coat and vivid amber or copper-coloured eyes. Their ancestors were brought to the UK by Romans who needed a companion to keep down the vermin and they remain champion mousers to this day.
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What you need to know about Chartreux cats
The early history of the Chartreux is rather an enigma. Folklore holds that they were either adopted by the monks of the Carthusian order or brought to France by Crusaders returning from what is now Syria. In any event, the Chartreux was being celebrated in French art and poetry as early as the 16th century. Much like the blue British Shorthair, they are a striking animal, with a dense double-layered blue coat and wonderful autumnal copper eyes.
Their coats differ from the Shorthair’s in that they have an undercoat and in the woollier texture of their fur. The Chartreux has a narrower head and lacks the Brit’s chubby-cheeked face. Their ears are set closer together and higher on the head. While the Chartreux shares the BSH’s cobby body and round paws, they have much more slender limbs.
They also differ in character, being much more inclined to claim your lap as their personal domain. Unlike the British Shorthair, the Chartreux barely talks; some of them can produce faint, kittenish mews but others are completely mute. They do have a loud purr and will rumble away on your lap in a very satisfying manner. Originally recruited as mousers, they delight in games of chase and are very interested in smaller animals as prey.
British Shorthair Cat Cost
The price of a pedigree British Shorthair will depend on many different factors. These include the age of the animal you’re buying – pedigree kittens cost a fortune, adult cats rather less. If you have your heart set on a kitten, you’re looking at a price tag of around £1200 in the UK. There is a lot of variation up and down the country but twelve hundred or so is a reasonable ballpark figure. In the US British Shorthair kittens go for between $1000 and $2000, although I’ve seen really smashing kittens go for as much as $5000. British Shorthairs seem to sell more cheaply in Australia, with $1000 (AUD) being the most you would normally pay.
You can reduce your outlay significantly if you’re prepared to accept an older cat. Retired show animals or breeding cats often make wonderful pets. Rescues are even cheaper. Because they’re so popular they usually don’t stay long in shelters but you do find them occasionally. I always encourage would-be British Shorthair owners to look into adopting an older cat if they can — they’re lovely animals who deserve caring homes at any age.
Chartreux Cat Cost
Chartreux kittens are also pretty pricey. Expect to pay a bare minimum of £500 and up to £1500 for a pedigree kitten from a good breeder. In the US they seem to go for around $1000, at a rough estimate; you may find them for as little as $500 or as much as $1500. Australian buyers don’t fare much better, as Chartreux kittens are harder to come by. Kittens there go for $1000 AUD and up.
As with all pedigree cats, prices drop for adults. If the cost of a kitten makes you flinch, consider getting an older cat or giving a home to a rescue animal. Whatever you do, don’t be swayed by the blandishments of backyard breeders. It’s well worth supporting caring, dedicated registered breeders who will sell you a healthy, properly socialised kitten with all her shots and de-sexing has taken care of. Buying from kitten mills means giving money to a genuinely unethical industry.
British Shorthair Temper
Opinion is divided over the British Shorthair’s character.
- Some hold that they’re too independent and aloof to make really good pets, pointing to their reluctance to be picked up or engage in lap time.
- Others point to the fact that British Shorthairs are very affectionate in their slightly reserved way, tremendously loyal and actually very loving companions.
I fall into the latter camp. No, this breed doesn’t tend to produce lap cats; no, you probably won’t be able to pick up your British Shorthair and carry her around like a Ragdoll, for instance. On the other hand, you will be getting a companion who quietly dotes on you, follows you from room to room, greets you when you get home from work and loves sitting close to you while you relax. Respect the British Shorthair’s boundaries and you will find that she opens up to you in her own time.
Chartreux Cat Temper
The Chartreux cat is tremendously friendly and physically demonstrative. She adores lap time and really can’t get enough of it, begging to be snuggled as soon as you sit down. It’s generally better to let her jump up rather than be picked up but she does like hugs. Chartreux cats are very active and playful, as well as intelligent to a fault. You need to think carefully about things like doors and windows; these cats are famous for getting into and out of places they’re not supposed to get into or out of. If there’s an ingress into the cupboard with the treats or an egress from the confines of the home, the Chartreux cat is guaranteed to find it.
They seem to excel in finding ways of getting stuck in small spaces from which they will require rescue. They are among the friendliest cats I’ve ever encountered but are also very loyal. Once they’ve attached themselves to a human, they may be coy around strangers. Chartreux cats are a little clingier than I like my feline companions, personally; they are tremendously fun, though, and if you like a cat who’s more enthusiastic about cuddles they simply can’t be faulted.
British Shorthair Health
The British Shorthair is well-known for being a splendidly healthy animal. They do suffer from the same physical issues as any other cat and are marginally more prone to a couple of heritable conditions than your average mixed-breed moggy. These are haemophilia B and feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The first is easily tested for and a responsible breeder will check their cats or kittens for the gene. The second is harder to predict and a breeder can’t guarantee that their British Shorthair cats will be free of it. (Be very wary of any breeders who say they can offer such a guarantee, by the way – this is a major red flag.)
British Shorthairs are rather notorious for getting lazy and obese in their later years; later in this article, we’ll discuss this issue and how to avoid it.
The Chartreux cat is also a very healthy character. While still subject to the various ills that feline flesh is heir to, they’re generally not prone to the health issues that beset some other breeds. There are one or conditions that do hit Chartreux cats more frequently than the average mixed-breed domestic. Patellar luxation (slipped kneecaps) is one. This happens when a joint deformity allows the kneecap to slide out of place. It can be corrected surgically but this isn’t usually necessary – most cats with this condition get along just fine.
Chartreux cats may also develop polycystic kidneys. This is a rare but serious condition, with no cure at present. It is treatable and manageable; eventually, kidney failure is inevitable but there’s no reason a cat with the disorder might not have many happy years before that occurs. Another affliction that’s slightly more common among these cats is the development of stones in the urinary tract.
Size & Weight Comparision
British Shorthair Weight
The British Shorthair is a larger cat. They tend to be on the heavy side (and will get even heavier in later life if they have their druthers). They are very muscular, especially the males, and this makes them even heavier than their size would suggest. By the time they achieve their adult size (this can take a long time – they’ll be most of the way there by the end of the first year but it can take from three to five years for a British Shorthair to get to its full adult height and weight).
You can expect an adult female British Shorthair to weigh from 4kg at the smaller end of the spectrum to 6kg at the larger. Male British Shorthairs are larger – their adult weights start where females’ leave off, at 6kg, and can reach 9kg before you need to start thinking about putting your strapping lad on a diet. Yes, this is a hefty animal.
Chartreux cats are a medium-sized breed. They are significantly smaller and lighter than British Shorthairs. The Chartreux is cobby but a rather more lithe and compact creature; she will never get quite as big as her chunky BSH cousins. This is probably a blessing, given the Chartreux cat’s love of sitting on your lap for hours on end. Queen cats of this breed are a lot smaller than the toms.
Adult Chartreux females of a healthy weight start at around 2.5kg and can easily get to 4kg before being regarded as obese. Healthy males can weigh in from 4.5kg to around 6.5kg. This is a fairly dramatic degree of sexual dimorphism, even more, pronounced than that of the British Shorthair. Chartreux cats, in general, are fairly active and lively so they don’t tend to get heavy in later life; still, keeping an eye on your cat’s weight is never a bad idea.
Living with Kids and Dogs
British Shorthair Kids and Dogs
British Shorthairs are noted for being good with both dogs and children. They are very patient and slow to irritation. If someone is doing something the British Shorthair doesn’t like, her typical response is to remove herself from their reach without any show of rancour. Younger children need to be closely supervised so they don’t harm the cat accidentally, as she won’t always defend herself. Older children are usually fine as long as they can understand that this type of cat doesn’t like to be picked up or hugged without permission.
British Shorthairs are cordial or outright friendly with dogs, as long as the dog isn’t hostile or aggressive towards cats. Over-friendly dogs who intrude on the British Shorthair’s personal space will not be well-received; however, as we’ve said, she’ll simply get out of the dog’s way rather than get in a fight.
Chartreux Kids and Dogs
The Chartreux cat is also very good with both dogs and children. Her affectionate nature and fondness for dog-like games such as fetch make her a great fit for dog-owning homes. Children generally love them and vice-versa; the lively, playful personality of the Chartreux is a good match for an energetic youngster who likes to spend time petting and cuddling cats. The Chartreux cat can be somewhat skittish and anxious around dogs who are too aggressive.
Children may need help to understand that the Chartreux cat will often want to nap after playing and that they will need to wait for her to wake up before they can play again. As always, toddlers and very small children need to be carefully guided so they don’t hurt the cat by accident. The Chartreux cat isn’t quite as patient as the British Shorthair but she is loving and will refrain from lashing out unless seriously provoked.
Care and Maintenance Comparision
British Shorthair Maintenance
The British Shorthair really only needs the same care as any average mixed-breed cat. Litter-boxes, play equipment and other items for the cat’s use will need to be properly upsized for the British Shorthair’s large frame. You should brush the cat’s fur every week or so. Try to brush the British Shorthair’s teeth if you possibly can; ideally, this should be done a few times per week. If you have an older British Shorthair, you should try to engage her in physical activity.
Fishing-pole toys are a very good choice, as they engage with her predatory instincts and encourage her to move around. If your cat persistently begs for treats, try providing a puzzle toy that dispenses small amounts of food as a reward. In general, you should avoid serving dry food in large quantities and make sure your British Shorthair drinks plenty of water. This is important for renal health.
Chartreux Cat Maintenance
The Chartreux cat requires similar care. Their thick fur needs to be combed rather than brushed, at least once a week. Their teeth should also be cleaned regularly. The Chartreux cat needs plenty of physical exercises every day or she will become destructive and fractious; she is very good at making her own entertainment if provided with suitable toys, cat trees and so on but really enjoys playing with her favourite humans.
Provide your Chartreux cat with good quality, high-protein wet food and make sure she drinks plenty of water to help prevent the development of urinary stones. Dry food should be given in small quantities, if at all. Chartreux cats are readily trainable and very obliging; they are rather sensitive souls, however, and can easily be distressed by punishment. Avoid shouting or harsh treatment and provide positive reinforcement instead.
This is one of those situations where the choice of the breed will come down largely to your personal inclination. In my own experience, the people with “mean” or “stuck-up” British Shorthairs tend to be the people who insist on picking up cats who don’t want to be picked up and forcing cats to stay on their laps after repeated attempts to get down. That said, they genuinely are a little reserved and may not be a perfect fit if you really want a lap-cat in your life. If what you want is a playful cuddle-bug who will sit on your lap for hours, choose the Chartreux. If on the other hand, you want a drama-free house-cat who loves your company but won’t pester you for hugs (and will generally refrain from getting stuck in the Venetian blinds), I’d recommend the British Shorthair. Something I would note about the Chartreux is that this breed seems unusually fond of travelling. If you’re looking for a cat who’ll happily hit the road with you, in a caravan or RV, the Chartreux is a great choice.