This breed is known by many names, including the ‘Highland Straight,’ the ‘Britannica,’ and the ‘Highlander,’ although it is most popularly known as the British Longhair. The exact nature of the breed’s development is uncertain, although it is theorised that the Longhair evolved through interbreeding with Egyptian cats brought to Great Britain during the Roman invasion. Somewhere along the line a Persian was added to the mix, and this was to introduce the longhaired gene. Numbers of British Longhair diminished with the onset of WWII as much of the breeding stock was lost. It was thanks to the careful breeding efforts of various enthusiasts that the British Longhair did not disappear altogether, pairing domestic shorthairs with Persians and Russian Blues to resurrect the breed. Despite being a British breed, it remains fairly unknown in Great Britain today.
The breed is highly distinctive in structure and appearance, possessing a short muzzle, rounded cheeks, large ovular eyes, a broad chest, short legs, and a tail that tapers ever so slightly. The coat is typically glossy and dense, mid to long-length, and observed in a variety of colours and patterning. The most common colours include white, cream, cinnamon, fawn, lilac, black, blue, and chocolate. The blue variation is the most popular, although most colours are permissible. The British Longhair has minimal grooming requirements, although it is necessary to run a brush through the coat every so often to maintain its condition and appearance. The coat thickens around autumn time in preparation for the cold months of winter, so enhanced grooming is essential at this time in order to avoid mattes and tangles.
This breed is both affectionate and sociable, enjoying the company of its owners and family. It does not like taking a backseat when it comes to household activities and will muscle in if it thinks it is missing out! Owners have often described the breed as loyal and very lovable, making a great breed choice for families with young children. Other house pets will not unsettle the British Longhair but rather, will entertain it and provide valuable company. The British Longhair is best suited to indoor living due to its sedentary lifestyle. Generally speaking, a healthy Longhair will weigh 12 pounds, with an average life expectancy of 18-20 years.
When housed indoors, the British Longhair has a tendency to gain weight quickly, which can be detrimental to developing bones and to a cat’s general standard of health. Otherwise, the British Longhair is typically very healthy and long-lived.