What You Need to Know About British Shorthair Health
To date, no single cat breed is exempt from at least a handful of heritable health issues.
The British Shorthair cat is no exception, although these cats are generally long-lived and healthy.
Breeders have worked hard to strengthen the lineage and only pair healthy parent cats, which bodes well for you when selecting a British Shorthair kitten from a reputable breeder.
The British Shorthair cat can be particularly prone to obesity, simply because it can be hard to tell if all that bulk is muscle or fat!
Also, once this cat reaches adulthood, their metabolism tends to slow down naturally, meaning the biggest risk of your cat becoming overweight begins after year five or once full height and weight is achieved.
However, the biggest danger is over-feeding during the first year of life, which some owners may do because they assume this kitten will be done growing in 12 months.
But the British Shorthair can take three to five years to reach full adult size and weight.
So here, it is important to pay close attention to portion sizes and calories to avoid over-feeding and too-fast growth, which can be very hard on the bones, muscles and joints.
Your vet can help you plan an age-appropriate diet for each stage of your British Shorthair’s life.
Diabetes in felines is strongly associated with being overweight or obese.
The best way to guard against diabetes in your British Shorthair cat is to pay careful attention to portion size, calories and frequency of feedings!
Rare blood type
One rather unusual health issue that can crop up among British Shorthair cats is a rare blood type, either B or AB.
It is estimated that approximately 47 percent of British Shorthair cats have the common blood type A.
The remaining 53 percent, then, will have either blood type B or the much rarer blood type AB.
This is most significant in kitten-hood (read the next section here to learn more) but can also become a concern if your cat needs a blood transfusion.
Many cat owners today do not know their pet cat’s blood type – in fact, many cat owners (as well as many non-cat owners) don’t know their own blood type!
Gum disease, or gingivitis, is more common in the British Shorthair cat than in some other cat breeds.
The major health signs include bad breath, red gums or gum inflammation.
Gingivitis can flare up as your kitten’s adult teeth start to come in, especially if the baby teeth don’t want to budge.
This irritates the gums and can create inflammation and redness that leads to gum disease.
One possible reason why gingivitis affects more British Shorthair cats in adulthood is because they have shorter noses and faces than some other cat breeds.
While they are not considered flat faced (brachycephalic), their shorter faces can crowd the teeth in a bit too close for comfort.
This can cause overcrowding and, in time, inflammation, which can lead to gum disease.
Careful attention to your cat’s oral health should help you detect any early warning signs.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
This disease is thought to stem from outbreeding British Shorthairs with Persian cats when British Shorthair breeding stock is low.
Polycystic Kidney Disease is a common problem of Persian cats.
Polycystic kidney disease causes cysts to grow on the kidney, slowing down function and eventually leading to kidney failure.
Medications can help to slow down the disease but there is no cure at this time.
It is caused by a genetic mutation, which, luckily, it can be detected via a DNA test – usually with a simple swab done at your vet’s clinic.
Potentially affected kittens or cats can have an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis, and breeding cats can be tested for their carrier status before a planned mating takes place.
On a positive note, breeders have come a long way in reducing the incidence of PKD in British Shorthairs.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
HCM is when the heart muscle begins to thicken, and it can make the heart’s job of keeping the blood pumping harder to do.
The Basics of British Shorthair Grooming
The Basics of British Shorthair Grooming
The British Shorthair’s plush coat is easy to groom with weekly combing or brushing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. You’ll need to brush him more often in the spring and fall when he sheds his coat in preparation for new growth. Comb the British Longhair daily to prevent or remove any tangles or mats.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually weekly. Check the ears every week for redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Start brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing early so your kitten becomes accepting of this activity.