There are few things more adorable than a British Shorthair kitten. The big eyes, the soft coat, extreme intelligence, and the sweet personality make these precious felines a favorite among cat owners in the United States. But sometimes, when you get your British Shorthair kitten home, you discover you have a hyperactive pet on your hands! So, when do British Shorthairs calm down?
A British Shorthair will generally calm down by one year of age as long as it is properly socialized and played with during its formative kitten months. A British Shorthair’s temperament can be traced to its developmental stages as a kitten. Color can sometimes play a part in the cat’s hyperactivity.
There are a few variables to the British Shorthair cat’s behavior, but the good news is that the kitty will likely grow out of the hyperactive stage and settle into a laid-back, loving family pet.
Color and genes
British shorthairs are known for their short, soft coat, yellow or copper eyes, and teddy bear-like round faces. They are one of the oldest cat breeds into the world, and also one of the cutest cat breeds too! It is thought that these felines sat next to the emperors of Ancient Rome.
Their modern descendants inspired the Cheshire Cat in “Alice In Wonderland” and the popular “I Can Haz Cheezburger” meme of the mid-2000s. They can be somewhat large, growing up to 15 pounds and 12 inches tall, and the males are usually larger than the females.
The huge variety of colors of the British Shorthair could be one determining factor of their behavior. British Shorthairs are often grey, but can also be tabbies, white, black, cream, silver, cinnamon, and several other colors. A study of British shorthair kittens showed that those with red, cream, and tortoiseshell colors were much more hyper and hated being handled, compared to kittens of other colors.
It is thought that this is because these cats have the “red gene.” Since red fur is an early mutation of domesticated cats, some scientists believe that cats with this color fur are a little less used to being cooped up. Therefore, it’s possible that your British Shorthair with the red gene could be having trouble calming down because its genetic makeup gives them the instinct to be outside exploring.
British Shorthair Personality
Even though color can play a role, early environment and activity are much more likely to determine your cat’s personality. When you bring home a British Shorthair kitten, the little one will likely be feeling a lot of things.
Excitement, curiosity, fear, happiness, sadness — that’s a lot for one little fur baby! This may cause them to act out, claw the furniture, run furiously, or not be able to settle down! If you’ve had children, you know that their energy can be seemingly boundless. It’s no different for a kitten.
A big part of their development is early socialization, which means the cat learns to interact with other cats, other species, and humans at a very early age. Socializing consists of having objects to bat at and play with, followed by the opportunity to play with littermates. The socialization period goes from the ages of 2 to 12 weeks, with some variation. Localization is also part of the process, which means keeping the kitten in a specific area and letting them get attached to certain surroundings.
Additionally, even a few minutes per day, introducing the cat to people will have significant effects on its ability to adapt as a pet. If you get a British Shorthair from a breeder, make sure they have been properly socialized, which should help with their calming down as they grow out of the kitten stage.
If you find a British Shorthair at a shelter and it has some behavior problems, chances are it was not properly socialized when young or got away from its mother before it could complete the process.
This doesn’t mean that the cat can’t become a good pet. It just means it may need some extra attention (and you may get a few bites and scratches on the way.) When your kitten comes home, it’s important to enclose it in a small area for a couple of days.
Since they have been accustomed to a certain location for their entire lives, you’re starting the localization process over again, and therefore don’t want to overwhelm the kitten. Introducing them to the home, and people too quickly can result in more hyperactive behavior from fear or confusion.
With proper socialization and slow introduction to new surroundings in their new home, the chances are that as your British Shorthair gets closer to being a year old, they will start to relax.
What if my British Shorthair won’t calm down?
Even if you did everything right, your British Shorthair kitten might have a hard time adjusting. If that’s the case, don’t worry! There are still steps you can take.
Carve out time for play
The best games to play with a kitten are games that allow them to exercise their natural instinct of hunting, such as wand and feather toys. Toy mice or things they can mimic pouncing on and capturing are great as well. Puzzle toys that result in food and treats are especially great for capturing your British Shorthair kitten’s developing intelligence.
With a kitten, you’re going to need to take extra time for these activities. Include a warmup and cooldown as if you were doing your own exercise routine. The cooldown is especially important so you can signal to the cat that playtime is over.
Give them a great view
Find a window your kitten can see out of that has a view of nature, neighbors, and visiting wildlife. This stimulates their brains and hunting instincts. Put a cat tree or other elevated furniture piece near the window, so they have a perfect perch.
If you do not have a window with that type of view, there are many YouTube videos and DVDs you can put on with clips of wildlife just for cats to watch. (Keep an eye on the cat to make sure they don’t damage your computer or TV!)
Include your kitten in your activities
Kittens need love and reassurance, especially when they first come home. Let your British Shorthair sit with you, and make sure to pet and cuddle them whenever possible. As they get older, British Shorthairs can be a little less fond of cuddling, but they love to be near their owners. Teach them early on that you are safe and reliable.
Get them a companion
If you’re up for it, a companion cat of the same age can often be a solution to a hyperactive British Shorthair. These felines generally get along well with other animals, so a companion to play with could be just what they need.
Sometimes cats that are lonely will get anxiety, so keep this in mind when deciding to become a pet owner.
Talk to your veterinarian
It’s a good idea to take your kitten to the vet often during their first year. The doctor can check for any underlying issues that might be aggravating your cat or causing them to act out, and recommend additional behavior modification techniques in case the cat doesn’t settle!
Adult British Shorthairs Are Calmer
British Shorthairs generally are a good cat to get if you’re looking for a laid back, smart, cuddly feline friend. Just like any cat, their time as a kitten is important to building their grown-up cat personality. Ensure your British Shorthair is well-socialized, has plenty of stimulation for the brain and body, and isn’t suffering from any underlying issues. Then enjoy as your fuzzy spaz grows into a big cuddly buddy.