British Shorthair cats are a reserved but thoroughly amiable bunch. They’re a wonderful family pet, good with most other cats, cordial towards cat-friendly dogs and fond of children. They’re very chatty and talkative – although not really loud, being a fairly soft-spoken cat.
Do British Shorthairs like cuddles? They will tolerate cuddling but prefer more low-key displays of affection. As cats go they’re friendly and sociable but this breed isn’t usually keen on being picked up and held. Snuggling next to you on the sofa is more this breeds’ speed.
British Shorthairs are not really lap cats, per se, but they adore human company, readily becoming attached to their owners and graciously entertaining any guests. Your British Shorthair may enjoy petting and most will at least tolerate a quick cuddle; however, they tend to express affection in less physical ways. My British Shorthairs have always been keen to stay close, trotting through the house to keep me company and observe whatever I happen to be doing. Despite their steadfast affection, British Shorthairs are not clingy; they appreciate interaction but are comfortable in their own company, happy to doze in a favourite spot or to entertain themselves with toys and games.
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If they don’t care much for cuddles, you may be wondering: what kinds of affection British Shorthairs do like like? Do British Shorthairs like being stroked and petted? Can you persuade your British Shorthair to be more amenable to physical affection? Keep reading to fund out more about the British Shorthair’s temperament and preferences.
Hugging your British Shorthair
Do British Shorthair cats like cuddles? Because they look so round and soft and appealing, many people’s first reaction to a British Shorthair is to scoop up this adorable teddy-bear of a cat for a hug. In many cases, this tends not to go down terribly well with the cat.
Friendly and loyal but reserved, the British Shorthair prefers more restrained petting. Grabbing them for enthusiastic cuddles is extraordinarily tempting but please resist the urge. This breed will put up with a certain amount of handling but they prefer to snuggle against you in a less restrictive way. They are very patient animals and brief spells of eager hugging will be forgiven – they’re especially tolerant of young children, who tend towards wanting to hug the kitty.
Unless you have an unusually “touchy-feely” British Shorthair, you should attempt to keep a little distance. Insisting on hugs and petting over and above what the cat enjoys will generally have the contrary effect of driving her away, making her suspicious of you and reluctant to come near you.
Cuddling your British Shorthair cats may be off-limits but they show their love and attachment to you in many other ways. Hugging for too long is unlikely to result in injury, as it might with another breed. Your British Shorthair is more disposed to stroll nonchalantly away from activities she doesn’t enjoy than to become aggressive and act up, preferring to simply remove herself from the situation than to retaliate. This is one reason why British Shorthairs are such a great choice if you have kids – if play gets too rough they’ll disengage and find somewhere else to be instead of biting or scratching. It takes a lot to rile up one of these gentle giants.
All that said, a cat should not be assumed to enjoy an activity simply because she is prepared to put up with it. Keep cuddles and hugs to short bursts and release the cat as soon as she seems stiff or uncomfortable.
If they don’t enjoy cuddles, how do British Shorthair cats show and receive affection?
In lots of wonderful ways. They often like to tail their favourite humans around the house, keeping an eye on all their activities. They come up and talk to you, vocalising in their soft, agreeable way. You may find that your cat will actually call you to join her in another room when she wants company.
While this breed usually does very well when left home alone during the day, you may find her waiting by the door when you get back. This breed is almost eerily good at learning schedules and is often keen to give you a warm welcome home.
When I was a youngster, our British Shorthair used to come out and wait for me at the top of the road when I got back from school, then trot along next to me as I made my way back to our front door. (She was also one of the few Shorthairs I’ve met who actually enjoyed extended lap time.)
Another demonstration of British Shorthair affection is allowing tummy-rubs. A cat’s tummy is justly regarded as something of a danger zone for grabby human hands; to the cat, rolling onto her back often signifies not “please pet my tummy” but “I am showing you my unprotected abdomen as a gesture of trust, because I believe you would never do something so gauche as to make a grab for my belly.”
This mismatch of expectations has led to many a scratched and bitten hand. With British Shorthairs, though, they really do roll over to get a tummy-rub. There are few things in life more pleasant than running your hand over a British Shorthair’s plush belly fur. (Reach over slowly to avoid alarming your cat, at least the first few times.) British Shorthairs also show affection by snuggling up against you as you sit down to relax, or curling up on your bed. They love your company, in their quiet, polite way, and really enjoy receiving attention and affection in return.
How do I know if my British Shorthair is uncomfortable with an activity?
Because they’re so loving and placid, it’s possible to make a British Shorthair genuinely uncomfortable for quite a long time before they’ll do anything as harsh as to scratch or bite you. If you’re used to high-strung breeds or scrappy non-pedigree cats, you might believe that a cat will always let you know if they don’t like something.
In the case of the British Shorthair, their stoical nature may prevent them from immediately communicating their discomfort. It’s not a universal trait but as a breed, they tend to suck up annoying or even painful treatment from their humans for much longer than other cats. This is especially true for interactions with children.
British Shorthairs, in the main, have a strong fondness for children and are very patient with little ones’ clumsy attempts to demonstrate their love – almost to a fault, in fact. You should supervise younger children when they’re playing with a British Shorthair because she’ll tolerate more roughness and squeezing than is really good for her.
Learning when your short hair is getting fed up with an activity isn’t hard, you simply need to be a bit more observant than with other breeds. Well before losing her temper and lashing out, your British Shorthair will indicate her discomfort by going stiff, physically; she may stop purring and make a more plaintive meowing noise than usual. Her tail will often be the biggest giveaway, twitching and lashing. When she starts to wriggle, don’t hold her more tightly – put her down.
The absolute last resort will be a yowl and a warning swat to make you let go. I’m amazed by the number of “mean” British Shorthairs who turn out to be perfectly tractable animals with owners who think they can manhandle their cats like stuffed toys. A cat is not a doll. She has her own needs and wants, and if you do things that upset her you should expect her to respond.
Can I train my British Shorthair to enjoy hugs and cuddles?
In all honesty, you probably can’t. If your British Shorthair isn’t fond of being held, attempting to train her otherwise will just end in frustration and unhappiness for you and the cat. I’ve known people use little tricks like petting the cat while she’s eating or sitting her on your lap and giving her a treat; while this kind of thing can be effective in getting a neglected or feral cat used to human contact generally, it’s unlikely to persuade your British Shorthair that cuddles are fun if she doesn’t like them.
Attempting to “get her used” to hugs by subjecting her to unwanted contact won’t help either. This is apt to put her off any kind of contact, in case it turns into another episode of being grabbed and picked up. It may even cause your previously bonded cat to become afraid of you. It is far better simply to accept and receive affection in the ways she enjoys: brief hugs and cuddles, along with following you, playing with you or just relaxing with you in your armchair.
Not wanting hugs is not some bad habit you need to break. Your cat is attached to you and loves you lots, she’s just not as clingy as other breeds.