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Home > Cats > British Shorthair vs American Shorthair: The Key Differences (With Pictures)

British Shorthair vs American Shorthair: The Key Differences (With Pictures)

British Shorthair vs American Shorthair

Often, people think about shorthair cats and don’t even realize there are different breeds out there. But while people might not always realize there are many different shorthair breeds, two of the most common are the British Shorthair and the American Shorthair.

And while the two breeds are similar in many ways, they also come with their own unique physical traits and personalities that identify them as unique individuals.

But how are these two shorthair cat breeds different, and which one is right for you? Keep reading and we’ll break down everything you need to know.


Visual Differences

British Shorthair vs American Shorthair - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – British Shorthair (Данил Сидоров, Pexels) | Right – American Shorthair (Oleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock)

At a Glance

British Shorthair
  • Average height (adult): 12–14 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 7–17 pounds
  • Lifespan: 15–20 years
  • Exercise: Less active
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent, friendly, and easy to train
American Shorthair
  • Average height (adult): 8–10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 10–15 pounds
  • Lifespan: 15–20 years
  • Exercise: Very active
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, friendly, and easy to train


British Shorthair Overview

british shorthair calico cat
Image Credit: Oleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock

The British Shorthair sits a bit taller than the American Shorthair, but this doesn’t always translate to a higher weight. They can weigh a bit more, but often, they’re smaller in size than the American Shorthair.

But perhaps the most notable difference between the British Shorthair and the American Shorthair is their activity levels. While the American Shorthair bounces off the walls most of the day, the British Shorthair is just fine spending most of their day lounging around while enjoying the occasional bout of playtime with their owner.

Personality / Character

To many people, the British Shorthair has the perfect personality for a cat. They’re active cats but not overly boisterous, getting their energy out in less destructive and obnoxious ways. They’re great family cats that get along with children and other pets and don’t actively seek ways to get into trouble.

Overall, British Shorthairs have pretty laid-back personalities, but that doesn’t keep them from displaying their affection and being extremely loyal to their owners. It’s because of their award-winning personalities that the British Shorthair makes an excellent cat for first-time pet owners and experienced pet owners alike.

two British shorthair cats hiding under the bed
Image Credit: Georgy Dzyura, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The most important thing when caring for a British Shorthair is that you have enough time to play with them. They have playful personalities, and they much prefer when their owner is willing to take the time to interact and play with them.

They don’t have very intense brushing requirements, although brushing them out a little each day will help with shedding. Overall British Shorthairs are a relatively healthy breed, although as they age, they are susceptible to heart disease, arterial thromboembolism, and polycystic kidney disease.

Regular visits to the vet, a high-quality diet, and adequate exercise times can help reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of many of these conditions.

Suitable for:

British Shorthair cats are extremely easy to care for and are outstanding cat options for first-time pet owners. They’re also great pets for people with smaller children or other pets, and they fit into just about any living situation. Whether you live in a spacious standalone home or a compact apartment, the British Shorthair is an outstanding pet option!


American Shorthair Overview

American shorthair kitten
Image Credit: Top Photo Engineer, Shutterstock

While the American Shorthair cat is similar to the British Shorthair cat in many ways, two areas they’re distinctly different are their size and activity levels.

The American Shorthair stands slightly lower than the British Shorthair but with a similar overall weight, which translates to a stockier appearance. The other area that the American Shorthair differs from the British Shorthair is their activity levels.

While the British Shorthair is perfectly content just lying around most of the day, that’s not the case with the American Shorthair. The American Shorthair has a strong ratting history, and because of this, they have much higher energy levels.

Personality / Character

American Shorthair cats are extremely friendly and affectionate felines, and there’s no denying just how sweet their temperament is. They love their families and typically don’t mind when people carry them around and cuddle them.

They’re extremely easy-going cats and have a ton of patience. They generally get along great with kids and other pets, but while they love their families, they also have a fiercely independent streak.

Not only that, but American Shorthairs come from a strong rat-hunting lineage, and because of this, they have a strong prey drive. In addition to the strong prey drive, they’re also full of energy, although they’re not overly obnoxious about it.

american shorthair cat kissing her kitten
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The American Shorthair is a pretty easy cat to care for with minimal grooming requirements. Regular grooming will help keep down how much cat hair they shed throughout your home, but since they’re fastidious self-groomers, it’s not completely necessary.

Just like the British Shorthair, the American Shorthair doesn’t have a ton of breed-specific health concerns you need to look out for. However, some serious conditions you must watch for include heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and obesity.

However, frequent visits to the vet, a high-quality diet, and ensuring they meet minimum exercise requirements each day can help reduce the likelihood of your cat developing any of these issues.

Suitable for:

The American Shorthair cat is another cat that’s pretty easy to care for. They’re outstanding choices for first-time pet owners, but they also get along great with other pets and small children.

They’re extremely tolerant cats, but keep in mind they still are a bit smaller, so you need to supervise them around the youngest kids. They also have higher energy levels, and while they don’t need extra space to roam, they’d certainly appreciate it.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

The truth is that there’s no wrong choice between the American Shorthair and the British Shorthair. Both cats are outstanding breeds that get along great with kids and other pets and are phenomenal choices for first-time pet owners and people with multiple pets already.

However, we would note that if you live in a smaller home, you might want to consider a British Shorthair simply because they have lower energy levels. While you’re certainly able to find ways to get creative with an American Shorthair to get them the exercise they need, it’s just easier in compact spaces if you have a British Shorthair!

Related Read:

Featured Image Credit: Top – British Shorthair (Павел Карсаков, Pexels) | Bottom – American Shorthair (Petrebels, Pexels)

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