British Longhair: Quiet and Well-Behaved Angels

british-longhair-cat lying on the floor
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

If you are looking for a cat that can be a nice addition to your household, the British Longhair cat is a potential candidate. However, seeing as this is a relatively new hybrid cat and it’s not yet recognized by the GCCF, it may be difficult for you to find enough information to ensure you of your choice. It would be an utter shame if you should miss out on this amazing cat breed due to lack of information, so we would like to answer any and all questions you have about this specific breed

The British Longhair is closely related to the more popular British Shorthair. Their semi-long hair offers them a majestic look that you wouldn’t be able to avert your eyes from. At the same time, the British Longhair is more than just a pretty face. They are friendly, loyal, surprisingly energetic, and they offer great yet not overbearing companionship.

British Longhair Kittens looking at the camera

In this piece, you will find a detailed explanation on all there is to know about the British Longhair cat. You will be made privy to their personality, life stages, coat patterns, feeding schedule, size, and every other relevant information. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dig in right now, shall we?

  • Adaptability: Above Average

  • Grooming: High Maintenance

  • Health: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: High

  • Exercise Needs: Average

Cat Breed GroupSemi Long-Haired, Hybrid
SizeAverage, around 12 – 14 inches tall
Weight12 – 18 pounds
Lifespan12 – 17 years

As the name implies, this is a cat breed that originated in Great Britain. The British Longhair came from the already-existent British Shorthair breed. In the early 20th century, breeders cross-bred the British Shorthair variants with long-haired cat variants (such as the Turkish Angora). The aim was to keep the desired short-haired coat and also to have a cat that was stout in build.

Beautiful British Longhair cat with green eyes

Inevitably, while most of the kittens had short hair, a few of them developed semi-long hair. At first, these long-haired cats were considered undesirable. But today, the British Longhair is starting to get recognized as a separate cat breed from the British Shorthair, and they are bred more intentionally than they were in the past.

If you are looking for this cat, it is not uncommon to see them listed under some names other than this one. As of the year 2015, the British Longhair has been listed equally as the British Longhair Variant, British Semi-Longhair, and the Longhair British. In some more European counties, the same cat is known as Britannica. When you come across a cat breed known as the Lowlander in the United States, know that it’s just another name for the British Longhair.

British Longhair cat outside near a water

The exercise needs of the British Longhair is very high. This is accentuated by the fact that they tend to get obese if they are kept as indoor-only cats. Likewise, neutered ones are more prone to obesity than those left to keep their full sexual configurations. That is not to say you cannot neuter them, but you will have to watch out for their dietary and exercise needs even more carefully.

As you must have noticed with long-haired cats, the British Longhair is very susceptible to shedding. In addition to having to go on the occasional cleaning spree to rid your apartment of cat hairs, you will also need to dedicate more time to groom them.  Constant brushing and de-matting of their coat (especially in the autumn and winter when the fur thickens in preparation for the season) will do wonders to reduce shedding with this cat.

Main Highlights

  • The average lifespan of the British Longhair cat breed is in the range of 12 – 17 years

  • Originating from the United Kingdom, there is no specific year as to when the breeding of this species started. However, many records will support that breeding started in the early 20th century

  • They are very high maintenance cats—requiring parents to devote more time to them than many other average cat breeds

  • The British Longhair tends to be very affectionate towards adults and young children (above the age of 6). Likewise, they can be easily trained to get along with dogs.

  • While they may be prone to obesity, they are not associated with many illnesses

  • If not prompted, they have the tendency to just linger around and be lazy. You will want to exercise them regularly to keep them in top shape

  • The coat on this cat is usually long, dense, and plush. The coat can also be patterned in tabby, bicolor, or colorpoint formats

  • They are quiet cats. When they start meowing, crying, or making noises excessively, parents should attend to them swiftly because these could be signs of real trouble

  • This cat is not an attention-seeker. Works best for parents who don’t like a cat that demands to be attended to

Breed History

As has been mentioned earlier, the main difference between the British Shorthair and British Longhair variants is the length of the fur. Other than that, they are very much similar in traits since the latter has the former to thank for being one of the parent breeding materials.

Sometime between the years 1914 and 1918, breeders started crossing the British Shorthairs with other cats with longer hairs. Persians (formerly referred to as the Turkish Angora) were chosen to be the ideal candidate for the crossbreeding.

Image showing three British Longhair kittens

At the end of the breeding process, the breeders had achieved unique characteristics in the offspring. Their aim was to keep the short, plush coat of the British Shorthair while giving the kittens a more round-faced and stocky appearance. They were mostly successful, but among the kittens, there were a few that had semi-long hair instead of short hair.

Early breeders considered the ones with long hair to be the “failures,” but today many breeders and potential cat parents are taking a whole new interest in the breed. The fight to get the British Longhair recognized as an official cat breed ensues. Even though the cat breed is not yet recognized by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF)—meaning they can’t be showcased at fairs and events—it is believed that it won’t be long before they claim their rightful status.


The size of this species depends on a number of factors, such as the age of the cat, the sex, how much exercise they get each day, and the feeding pattern of the cat. That being said, you can expect males to weigh anywhere between 8 to 18 pounds, while the females have been known to reach a maximum of 16 pounds.

British Longhair lying down

The British Longhair is a medium-sized cat breed. They stand at 12 to 14 inches tall on average. They might look bigger than they really are due to their bushy hair and stocky build.

Personality and Character

The British Longhair cat personality makes them an ideal choice for busy owners who are away most of the time, or senior citizens. Observing the cat, you will agree that they appear relaxed, laid back, and maybe a little too independent. That does not mean they don’t enjoy company, though. They just can tolerate being left alone better than some more needy cats.

The British Shorthair will tolerate visitors in your house, even though they might not be forthcoming initially since they are quite shy around strangers. You should, however, warn the visitor against picking up the cat. They prefer to come to you when they want to play rather than being picked up against their will.

British Longhair sleeping on a grass near a window

As kittens, the British Longhair tends to be very playful one. As they advance in age though, they start to withdraw into a quieter life. If you are worried about the destructive nature of cats, this species will alleviate your fears. They are calm and collected; the idiom curiosity kills the cat doesn’t really apply to them.

Due to their soft nature, the British Longhair cat is not loud about their needs. In your years of living with one, you will only hear the cat “speak” very few times compared to some other cats such as the Siamese. Despite being very affectionate, the British Longhair will not hide their displeasure at something they don’t like. That is why you should take it seriously when they start to get more vocal because they might be voicing a serious concern. Overall, they are a pleasant ball of fur to have around.

Health and Potential Problems

In general, the British Longhair has a strong immune system. They don’t have any breed-specific diseases you need to worry about. However, due to their tendency to add weight fast, the cat may run the risk of obesity.

Owing it to their Persian cat origin, the British Longhair also shares some of the diseases that their parent is prone to. One of them is the risk of inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

british longhair kitten looking at the camera

That makes it important to know the health history of the cat’s parents before committing to an individual cat. Make sure to adopt your cat from a reliable shelter or breeder so you can avoid any unwanted vet visitsOverall, this cat species is ideal for owners who do not want to worry about potential health problems in the short and long run.

Care Features

The long hair on this species calls for regular grooming. That is to ensure the dense fur does not get tangled, knotted, and so the cat won’t shed everywhere. In addition, it is to guard against the cat getting too much hair in their mouth during grooming—which can lead to a severe case of hairballs in the stomach.

Beautiful white british longhair cat

Combing is advised at least once a week, and a thorough brushing should be done a couple more times within the same week. More care of the fur will be required in the autumn and winter times since the cat will have fuller hair to help them prepare for the season changes.

One important thing to pay attention to is that this cat needs to be exercised as much as you can to avoid obesity. You can take the cat to the park with you on the weekend. Train the cat to walk on a leash so they would not wander off. Playing indoor games with the cat is also a good way of getting them to burn off the excess calories.

Feeding Schedule

This breed doesn’t have special dietary needs that are largely different from other cats. They will indulge in most quality cat foods, so you don’t have to go out of your way to find something your cat will eat.

 british longhair cat drinking milk

Occasionally, you will want to throw treats (chicken, meat, ham, etc.) in their food to spice things up. What you will not want to do is make these treats a common occurrence. Especially if the cat has been spayed, you could be contributing to a case of obesity.

Depending on the age of the cat, you should work with your vet or pet nutritionist to plan the best feeding schedule for your cat. Never consider leaving food out for the cat all the time if you want to guard against obesity. If you are away very often, getting an automatic cat feeder and programming it accordingly will help you regulate the food and calorie intake.

Coat, Coloring, and Grooming

The British Longhair cat is characterized by medium-length coats that are very dense and plush. The coat can be of different colors, and they usually resonate with the color of the cat’s eyes.

Gorgeous British Longhair cat

Some of the most common coat colors that can be found on the British Longhair are black, blue, chocolate, cinnamon, cream, fawn, lilac, and red. The coat can then be patterned as either of bicolor, colorpoint, or tabby.

Due to the constant shedding of the cat, grooming is an integral part of their care. The coat should be combed at least once a week and brushed about 2 to 3 times weekly. During autumn and winter, when there tends to be more hair than normal, the combing and brushing frequency should be increased to avoid getting cat hair all over your couch and other furniture.

Children and other Pets Compatibility

The British Longhair cats are very friendly, making them an ideal option for households with children. To be on the safer side though, experts have advised that they should not be left alone with kids below 6 years of age.

British Longhair Orange Male Kitten

You will want to tell your kids not to pick them up. Rather, they should just pet/stroke the cat gently. The cat will also welcome playtime happily—as long as they are not the ones being tossed around like a ragdoll.

If you have a dog in the household, this species will get along well with them. They don’t have a problem with other pets around the house. Just make sure to introduce them to your resident pet slowly and step-by-step so that they can make a good first impression.

Wrap Up

Whether you are a cat lover with little time on your hands or an older person looking to get a cat companion, the British Longhair will fit the description. They don’t really need much. You’ll just need to pay extra attention to their grooming, calorie intake, and humor their need for some cuddling when the occasional mood strikes.

British Longhair male cat sitting

Planning to adopt a British Longhair? Or maybe you’re already living with one? Either way, we’d love to hear from you, so please place a comment in the section below! Don’t hesitate to let us know if we missed any information about the British Longhair.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.