The history of the most popular cat breeds in the UK

Our loving furbabies have a long history – some that span back to the Roman invasion!

In today’s post we’re focusing on four of our most popular UK cat breeds to tell you a little bit more about how your purrfect pal came to be here…

British Shorthair Cat


The British Shorthair is a popular show breed and has a thick, plush coat. As a stocky, rounded cat they are a pedigree version of the traditional British domestic cat that have been a popular breed year on year. And it’s easy to see why; the popular ‘British Blue’ colouring with copper eyes is the most familiar, and very striking, colour variant.

They were imported into Britain by the invading Romans in the first century AD, who brought Egyptian domestic cats that then interbred with the local European wildcat population.

The date of origin of the British Shorthair as we know it today is 1870. Over time they have evolved into a cat with short but very thick coat, which has protected them against their new cold surroundings.

According to the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, British Shorthairs make up 1/4 of all kittens registered each year, making it the most popular pedigree cat in the UK.

Ragdoll Cat


The Ragdoll is one of the largest cat breeds and at full maturity a male can weigh in at around 6kg, with females weighing between 4-6kg.

They are sturdy, long in stature and have a medium length coat of silky texture which can come in three patterns- colourpoint, bi-colour, and mitted. Their main distinguishing feature, however, is their bright blue eyes.

The breed name ‘Ragdoll’ comes from their tendency to become relaxed and limp when picked up. Initially, this affectionate breed was developed in Riverside, California in the early 1960s and imported into the UK in the spring of 1981.

Persian Cat


The Persian breed is one glam looking cat! Their long, thick coat can come in a huge variety of colours and patterns and their large physique is well-developed and muscular with a short, sturdy body and short legs to support their mass.

Facially, the version of the Persian cat we are most familiar with today is the Peke-faced Persian, which is short-muzzled and squashed-looking.

Although there is no exact recording of the ancestry of the Persian breed, the first documented history can be traced back from Khorasan, Persia, when they were imported into Italy in 1620. And into France from Angora, Turkey around the same year.

Bengal Cat


In contrasting physique, the Bengal breed is a distinctively patterned short haired breed, which was produced from crossing domestic cats (usually Siamese) with the Asian Leopard Cat.

The initial aim of the cross-breeding was to produce an affectionate and domesticated miniature leopard to reduce the number of people keeping wild cats as pets or wear their fur. Their marbled and spotted coat makes it one of the most striking breeds in the UK, and whilst brown is the most popular colouring, there are also snow, silver, and blue colour variations.

The earliest mention of the cross which produces the Bengal was documented in 1889 making them a relatively new breed, with their first import into the UK from USA in the early 1990s. Since their introduction into the UK around 25 years ago, they have become one of the most popular short haired breeds.

Did we miss your cat’s breed? Let us know in the comments!

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