British Shorthair temperament

Discover the famous british shorthair temperament that makes them the most popular cat in the UK, and what factors affect that temperament.

Marilyn, our blue and white colourpoint british shorthair queen

The amazing British Shorthair temperament is just one of the things that make it the most popular cat in the UK. The GCCF is the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and it is the main cat registering body in the UK. It confirms that the British Shorthair cat is currently the most popular cat in the country, by a long way! If you are buying a British Shorthair kitten, then make sure the kitten is properly registered before you buy it - official registration really does matter. Read more about the benefits of a registered kitten.

General British Shorthair temperament

The British Shorthair is known for being a very laid back, relaxed cat. Easy going to the extreme, they get on well with other cats, animals and children. But is this true? In our experience, as long as a British Shorthair kitten is well socialised by his or her breeder, it is completely true. British Shorthairs are like big cuddly teddies. They enjoy being cuddled and snuggled and fussed over. Be aware that whilst they all enjoy attention, not all British Shorthairs enjoy being picked up or carried around.

British Shorthair temperament
Pixie, relaxing on the sofa: displaying typical British Shorthair temperament!

British Shorthair socialisation

The way a kitten is socialised is a vital building block in what will determine their adult character. There are other factors involved, such as the personality of their mother and father, but it is the socialisation of the kitten that is the most vital element in ensuring an excellent British Shorthair temperament.

The key period for kitten socialisation is the first 7 weeks of the kitten’s life. During this time kittens should be handled as much as possible. Obviously when they are very small this may not be possible if their mother is a nervous parent. That is why it is important for a breeder to build and maintain an excellent relationship with their queens whenever possible. The more relaxed the queen is with you, the more likely she is to let you handle her kittens from a young age.

Kittens should also be exposed to a wide range of noises and stimuli, so that they become used to them as early as possible. That way, when they come into contact with them in later life they should take it in their stride and not be frightened. Because some British Shorthairs do not naturally like being picked up, we go to extra effort with all of ours to pick them up and hold them as often as possible. 

British Shorthairs do like company but can also tolerate being on their own for a time, unlike some other breeds of cat. If you are lucky enough to be able to get two British Shorthair kittens, then do it, because they are good company for each other and their playful antics will make for excellent entertainment for you!

Silver mackerel tabby British Shorthair kitten at 16 days old

Temperament variations between males and females

An interesting pattern emerges within the British Shorthair breed: the males seem to be a little more easy going than the females. Or, rather, the males seem to love attention from everyone and anyone, whereas the females sometimes choose a favourite person and stick them like glue, at the exclusion of all others! So male British Shorthair temperament is, in general, even more laid back than the female! Of course, there are always the exceptions to the rule! 

We have a beautiful lilac British Shorthair  queen called Pixie. She is an exceptionally affectionate cat with a typical British Shorthair temperament. As a kitten, she was so affectionate it was unbelievable! She would sit on our knees and roll around and around and around, purring the whole time and just loving the attention. Now that she is older, she is still very affectionate, but she has a clear favourite: me! When I am not around she cuddles up to my husband, but the minute I walk into the room she jumps down and stands right next to me until I sit down, and then she jumps up beside me. Interestingly for all her love of affection, she does not like to be picked up or carried, but we have trained her to tolerate this using cat behaviour training techniques.  I really like the girls - I find their personalities incredibly interesting. My husband likes the boys because they are so laid back.

Read more about the differences between male and female British Shorthairs.

Temperament variations between colours

Different colours were bred into the British Shorthair breed from different breeds. Since temperament is known to be at least partly genetic, it makes sense to assume that different colours might have slightly different personalities.

Colourpoint British Shorthair temperament 

silver shaded colourpoint british shorthair

The colourpoint pattern was bred into the breed from the Himalayan, which itself was a cross between Siamese and Persians. Siamese are known for being quite picky about who they like, and choosing a very clear favourite. Whilst all British Shorthair queens can be a little bit like this, our colourpoint queen chose her favourite person from the start, and we had to train her to like the rest of us! Even our colourpoint boy has a very clear favourite, which is very unusual for the boys. So it would seem that the colourpoint British Shorthairs do have particularly quirky personalities. 

Read more about the silver shaded colourpoint cat.

Silver tabby British Shorthair temperament

Some people also say that silver tabbies are a bit more hyper and highly strung than the British Blues. We are still making our minds up about whether we feel this is true or not...but we think it might be!  Some of the silver tabbies are a little bit like a cross in temperament between a British Shorthair cat and a Bengal cat. A lot of the silver tabbies do tend to be more athletic cats: they can jump higher, play longer, and be generally more gymnastic!

Of course, these are only generalisations and there are no guarantees about whether one cat will be more cuddly/hyper/active than another purely because they are a different coat colour. If there is a particular characteristic that you really admire in a cat, discuss it with your breeder as they should be able to guide you towards the right kitten for you. 

Read more about Silver tabby British Shorthairs


The British Shorthair cat has a fantastic temperament in all of its wide colour and pattern variations. They are laid back, not overly demanding but also exceptionally good company. Their big, chunky cobby bodies make them look and feel like fluffy teddy bears when cuddling them. They are an excellent family pet, and an excellent cat for a first time cat owner. They will bring a huge amount of peace, love and affection into your life. The only question that remains is…..what colour is your favourite? Have a look at our kitten page to find out!



- How to choose the right breeder for your British Shorthair kitten

- British Shorthair eye colour 

- extremely flat faced cats and their health issues 

- how to introduce a new cat to your home 

- should you choose a male or female British Shorthair?