8 British Cat Breeds

We have the UK to thank for these adorable breeds

Two British Shorthair kittens, one gray and one tabby.

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The Brits love their cats. And just like they’ve given us notable inventions like radios, lawn mowers, and the smallpox vaccine, they’ve also given us quite a few impressive cat breeds. We’ve rounded up eight British cat breeds that take the crown in terms of cuteness, including the popular British Shorthair, a breed that is as beloved on our own shores as it is across the Atlantic.

Read on to learn about the British cat breeds that have gained popularity both in and out of the UK. 

  • 01 of 08

    British Shorthair

    Gray British Shorthair cat lying on couch with eyes open.

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    Let’s start with what's probably the most well-known of British cat breeds: the British Shorthair. These cats share the same ancestry as the American Shorthair, though when the breeds split off they also took on some distinct characteristics. British Shorthairs used to be called British Blues for the silvery gray coat that’s common among cats of this breed, though their coats do come in a variety of colors. Their unique look comes from their round eyes, broad faces, and plush coat, though worldwide appreciation for the breed probably has more to do with the fact that they tend to be laidback and loving, with a patient personality that makes them a good choice for homes with children. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 14 inches
    Weight: 7 to 17 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Medium to large body, broad face, round eyes

  • 02 of 08

    British Longhair

    Gray British Longhair sitting outside in front of flowers.

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    The British Longhair is a domestic cat breed of medium to large size, with a luxurious fluffy coat and a similar face to their Shorthair cousins. These similarities are not by accident: the British Longhair is the product of consistent breeding between British Shorthairs and long-haired cats like Persians. While these breeding efforts are thought to have originated sometime just after the first World War, it wasn’t until 2009 that the British Longhair was formally acknowledged by the International Cat Association (ICA). This British breed is known to be quite loving, but also doesn't mind a bit of independence. And in addition to their round eyes and faces, British Longhairs share a couple other notable traits with Shorthairs, including patience and friendliness.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 14 inches

    Weight: 9 to 18 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium to large with a short neck, round eyes, and long coat

  • 03 of 08

    Devon Rex

    White Devon Rex cat looking directly into camera.

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    The Devon Rex is a highly affectionate British breed with big ears, a small stature, and a short, curly coat. It’s hard to ignore this adorable breed, which is one of two curly-haired varieties to come out of England. Unlike some other pedigreed British cat breeds, the lineage of the Devon Rex can’t be traced to distinct breeding efforts. Instead, the first Devon Rex—a kitten named Kirlee—was born in Devon, England with the same genetic makeup as a Cornish Rex but what appeared to be a genetic mutation that set it apart. And while Kirlee's exact origins were never discovered, the Devon Rex has gone on to become a popular British breed, as renowned for their friendly, relaxed nature as they are their impressive ears. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 6 to 9 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Curly coat with a long, skinny neck and big ears

  • 04 of 08

    Cornish Rex

    Cornish Rex cat sitting on floor with mouth touching the carpet.

    Angela Emanuelsson / EyeEm / Getty Images

    While they might be offended to hear you say so, the Cornish Rex brings a dog-like temperament to their interactions, with an affinity for playfulness that you might not associate with regal British cat breeds. Of course though, there’s nothing particularly regal about the Cornish Rex’s origins, which, similar to the Devon Rex, seem to be traceable only to an unexpected genetic mutation—in this case, between a shorthaired pet cat and a stray tabby in Cornwall. Also similar to the Devon Rex is their short, curly coat and their oversized ears, but the Cornish Rex is a true original in terms of personality, with an innate humor and charm, as well as an affinity for a bit of mischief. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 6 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Slender body with a curly coat, as well as a small head and large ears

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Oriental

    White Oriental cat with two different colored eyes.

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    Their name might suggest otherwise, but Orientals actually originated in England, where they were bred as an alternative to China’s Siamese cats. Orientals, also referred to as Foreign Shorthairs, have a very similar appearance to the Siamese but with a wider range of coat colors. Long and elegant with a slender, well-muscled stature, the Oriental is as beautiful as she is intelligent—and she knows it. This breed gives affection and expects it in return, repaying it in multitudes with plenty of cuddles. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 9 to 11 inches

    Weight: 9 to 14 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Long and slender with a muscular body and triangle-shaped head

  • 06 of 08

    Chinchilla

    White Chinchilla Cat lounging on couch.

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    The Chinchilla is one of the oldest man-made cat breeds out of Britain, and perhaps even one of the oldest in the world. They may share a name with a South American rodent, but the Chinchilla is a pampered breed with an appearance and temperament reminiscent of a Persian, though their face is a little bit less flat. (And in fact, they’re often called Silver Persians, since they were originally bred in an attempt to create a silver-haired Persian.) Large and full-coated, Chinchillas require regular grooming to stay looking their best. In terms of personality, they’re more extroverted than Persians and are even quite outgoing. They’re also loving and affectionate, making the Chinchilla a great family pet. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 12 inches

    Weight: 9 to 12 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short, stocky body with bushy coat and tail

  • 07 of 08

    Burmilla

    Burmilla cat with light blue/green eyes sitting on floor mat.

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    What do you get when you breed a Chinchilla cat with a Burmese? The Burmilla, a playful breed with a taste for adventure and a short coat that’s much easier to maintain than that of their Chinchilla ancestors. Burmillas are a relatively new breed, first coming about in the 1980s and only introduced into the Cat Fanciers Association in the last decade. Like the other British cat breeds on this list, the Burmilla is quite sweet and ideal for families, and they rarely say no to a lap cuddle. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 8 to 12 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized and muscular with rounded ears

  • 08 of 08

    Scottish Fold

    Scottish fold cat on bed looking at camera

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    The Scottish Fold hails from—you guessed it!—Scotland, and has been bred in both long- and short-haired varieties. The most distinct physical trait of the Scottish Fold is their folded ears, which are quite unique among cat breeds. This trait, also known as lopped ears, was first noticed in a barn cat named Susie, who was then bred to produce the trait in her offspring. Scottish Folds are smart and active, and a bit of an attention hog. As noticeable as their ears is their propensity for sitting in odd positions, though they stand out for their intelligence as well. And speaking of that need for attention, Scottish Folds do best with constant companionship, so it’s good to have either a person or another cat who is regularly at home with them.