British Shorthair vs American Shorthair Cat: Key Differences Explained

Written by Amber LaRock
Updated: September 30, 2023
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The British shorthair and the American shorthair are similar in many ways! Many people cannot even recognize the differences between the two, making it challenging to determine which breed is best for your family. So how do you spot the differences and choose between the British and American shorthair?

In this article we will discuss the key differences between the British Shorthair and the American Shorthair, ranging from differences in personality to their overall health and lifespan. Let’s get started!

British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair: Key Differences

Most Expensive Cat Breeds: British Shorthair

The British shorthair is one of the world’s oldest cat breeds in the world, dating back to ancient Egyptians times.

©MELNIKOVA OLGA/Shutterstock.com

Let’s discuss the differences between the British shorthair and American shorthair in detail below!

British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair: Height & Weight

The British shorthair is typically taller than the American shorthair.

British shorthair: The average British shorthair is anywhere from 12 to 14 inches in height. Most male British shorthair cats will weigh about 11 to 17 pounds, where females will weigh 8 to 15 pounds on average.

American shorthair: The average American shorthair is around 8 to 10 inches tall. Most male American shorthair cats will weigh anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds, while females will weigh 8 to 13 pounds on average.

British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair: Coat Characteristics

American shorthair laying on hardwood floor

The British shorthair is often taller than the American shorthair, but this does not mean they will weigh more. American shorthairs are known for being quite stocky.

©iStock.com/kla3950

Both the British and American shorthair have a short and dense coat that requires minimal grooming. However, it is said that the British shorthair sheds less than the American shorthair.

British shorthair: The British shorthair has a short and dense coat that can be found in white, black, red, cream, blue, lilac, and chocolate shades. They can also sport tabby and calico patterns. Their coats are shiny, smooth, and require minimal grooming.

American shorthair: The American shorthair has a dense coat that can be found in shades of white, black, blue, cream, red, silver, golden, and chinchilla. They can also sport calico, tabby, and tortoiseshell patterns.

British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair: Personality & Temperament

Both the British shorthair and the American shorthair are known for forming close bonds with their owners. They are both easy going and make for wonderful family cats.

British shorthair: The British shorthair is known for being incredibly affectionate and loyal. They love nothing more than spending time with their owners, whether this is cuddling on the couch or playing an interactive game. Though they do love to play with their owners, they are considered generally laid-back and easy going.

American shorthair: The American shorthair loves their family just as much as the British shorthair, but they are a bit more independent. This means that while they will happily spend time with their owners, they may drift off occasionally to do their own thing. They are also much more energetic than the British shorthair, so they will need plenty of daily exercise to prevent any undesirable behaviors.

Amy Nicole Lewis, a veterinarian at Worlwide Veterinary Services told A-Z Animals that the American shorthair cat is an active breed that needs plenty of daily exercise. The American shorthair also comes from a strong lineage of rat hunting, so they thrive in a home that provides mentally stimulating exercise that engages their high prey drive.

British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair: Exercise & Enrichment Needs

Row of 5 various colored British Shorthair cat kittens, standing and sitting together. All facing camera. Isolated on on white background.

©Nynke van Holten/Shutterstock.com

The most notable difference between the British shorthair and the American shorthair is their activity levels. American shorthair cats are often bouncing off the wall with energy, while the British shorthair is happy to lounge around most of the day and engage in short bursts of play.

The American shorthair is much more active than the British shorthair.

British shorthair: The British shorthair is happy to have anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes of exercise in the form of play each day. As long as they receive a bit of mental and physical stimulation each day, they are happy to spend the rest of their time lounging around.

American shorthair: The American shorthair needs at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to feel fulfilled. They love games that simulate a hunt, as well as any interactive games played with their owners. They also love to jump and climb, so it’s important to have multiple cat trees around your home.

British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair: Health & Lifespan

The British shorthair and the American shorthair cat can live a generally healthy life with routine vet and wellness care. However, each cat breed has a few health issues they are at risk of developing.

British shorthair: The average British shorthair lifespan is anywhere from 15 to 20 years. They are more prone to experiencing cardiac disease, respiratory complications, and kidney disease.

American shorthair: The average American shorthair lifespan is anywhere from 15 to 20 years. They are more prone to experiencing obesity and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair: Average Price

American shorthair cat on colored backgrounds

The British Shorthair cat is often much more expensive than the American shorthair.

©iStock.com/photo by Volchanskiy

British shorthair: A British shorthair kitten can cost anywhere from $1200 to $2500. However, a unique British shorthair coat color or special bloodline can cost up to $3000.

American shorthair: The average kitten will cost anywhere from $500 to $800.

We always encourage you to look for a British or American shorthair rescue when you are looking for a new feline companion. Not only will you be offering these adorable cats a beautiful chance at a new life, but you will typically save money through adoption or rescue. Most cat rescues charge between $150 to $350 at adoption if the cat has been fully vetted.

Positive Traits Of The British Shorthair & American Shorthair

Both the British shorthair and the American shorthair are intelligent, loving, and loyal. With both breeds possessing so many wonderful traits, we understand why it’s so hard to choose between the two! To help you decide which cat breed is right for your family, let’s list a few positive traits of each breed below.

British shorthair:

  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Loves to cuddle
  • Intelligent
  • Easy to train
  • Very family friendly

American shorthair:

  • Affectionate, yet independent
  • Incredibly playful
  • Intelligent
  • Outgoing and curious
  • Good with other pets

So, which feline friend is right for your family – the British shorthair or the American shorthair?

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/NiseriN


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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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