The ‘British Blue’ variant can often be confused with the grey Scottish Fold. However, the Shorthair can be characterised by having its pointy triangle ears, whereas the Fold has softer, folded ears. They are slow to mature in comparison with most cat breeds, reaching full physical development at approximately three years of age. Unusually among domestic cats they are a noticeably sexually dimorphic breed, with males averaging 9–17 lb (4.1–7.7 kg) and females 7–12 lb (3.2–5.4 kg).
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The British Shorthair is a relatively powerful, sturdy and compact cat, having a broad chest, strong thick-set legs with rounded paws and a medium-length, blunt-tipped tail. The head is relatively large and rounded, with a short muzzle, broad cheeks (most noticeable in mature males, who tend to develop prominent jowls) and large round eyes that are deep coppery orange in the British Blue and otherwise vary in colour depending on the coat. Their medium-sized ears are broad at the base and widely set.