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British Shorthair Cat Health Problems: 8 Common Issues

Getting a new cat is always an exciting time! Part of the fun of adopting a pet is figuring out which breed will be the best fit for you and your family—that means doing some research. You’ll need to learn about their personalities, how active they are, what to feed them, and more for any breed you’re considering. One part of the research that people sometimes forget about is finding out common health issues that affect certain breeds. It’s important to know what potential problems could arise for your kitty down the road.

If you’ve been considering adopting a British Shorthair into your family, you already know the breed is absolutely adorable and easygoing. You may not have looked into health issues yet, though. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered when it comes to the most common health problems this cat breed runs into. The list below will give you a rundown of the issues that may occur and let you know what you should keep an eye on if you decide to bring a British Shorthair into your home and life.


The 8 British Shorthair Cat Health Problems

1. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the heart disease most often diagnosed in felines. Unfortunately, the British Shorthair tends to develop it more than other breeds. An inherited condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes the muscles in the wall of the heart to thicken. Eventually, this thickening can lead to worse issues such as blood clots or heart failure. Though there isn’t a cure for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it can be managed with medication to prevent clots and control the heart rate. Because this disease is inherited, it’s essential that you check with breeders about whether the parent cats of any kitten you’re considering have been tested.

As far as symptoms for this go, they can vary by cat, and often you won’t see anything until the disease has progressed.

Once symptoms begin to show up, they include:
  • Malaise
  • Discomfort
  • Pain
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
9British Shorthair
Image Credit: kejamy, Pixabay
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2. Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a type of coronavirus that most cats carry in its dormant state. When this coronavirus goes through certain mutations, however, is when it can turn into FIP. Though all cats may have this dormant virus, the British Shorthair is one of the breeds that appears to be more likely to have it turn into FIP. When FIP develops, it causes a build-up of fluid in the chest or abdomen and can harm blood vessels. Unfortunately, this condition has no treatment or cure and will lead to death.

Purebreds seem to be even more at risk for developing FIP, so when purchasing from a breeder, be sure to ask about any FIP in a kitten’s family or the cattery itself.

Symptoms can include:
  • Fluctuating fever
  • Affected appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Fluid retention in the abdomen or chest
  • Inflammation of the eyes
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3. Hemophilia B

Though not common, hemophilia B is a hereditary bleeding disorder that has been reported in the British Shorthair. Essentially, this disorder means the cat has a lack of factor IX (a protein that aids in blood clotting), which means they will bleed excessively if injured. Unfortunately, you’ll really have no way of knowing if your cat suffers from this until they get hurt. If your British Shorthair does have hemophilia B, while there’s no cure, you can reduce the risk of injury to them by keeping them indoors and being aware of what medications may be harmful to them.

Symptoms can include:
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Reduced appetite
British shorthair cat Silver chocolate color yellow eyes
Image Credit: lowpower225, Shutterstock
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4. Feline Aortic Thromboembolism

Cats of any breed with heart disease are more likely to also suffer from feline aortic thromboembolism or blood clots in their arteries. Typically, these blood clots get stuck right past the aorta (hence “aortic thromboembolism”). This is particularly bad as the aorta is responsible for pumping blood from the heart to the body. An aortic blood clot can be fatal, so if you see what you believe are symptoms of it, you should take your cat to the vet straight away. If caught early enough, there’s a chance for your cat to recover. And if your cat has already gotten a diagnosis of heart disease, be sure to ask about medication they can take to prevent clots.

Symptoms can include:
  • Distressed crying
  • Pain in the hind legs
  • Paralyzation of the hind legs
  • Hyperventilating
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5. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD)

FLUTD isn’t a disease itself but a category of diseases that can affect a cat’s urethra and bladder. These can include urinary tract infections, bladder stones, blockages in the urethra, interstitial cystitis, and more. They get grouped under FLUTD because symptoms amongst these tend to be similar. So, if you see any of the below symptoms, you’ll need to have your vet do an examination to determine the exact cause. Though diseases under the FLUTD umbrella can occur at any time, cats who are overweight and middle-aged are more prone.

Symptoms can include:
  • Urination outside the litter box
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Urinating more often
  • Excessive grooming of the genital area
  • Only urinating in small amounts
british shorthair inside top entry litter box
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock
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6. Polycystic Kidney Disease

Though most commonly found in Siamese, polycystic kidney disease has also been known to occur in the British Shorthair. As the name suggests, this disease causes lots of tiny cysts to start growing in the tissue of the kidney. As time passes, these cysts grow in number and size till they overwhelm the kidney, potentially shutting it down. The size, amount, and growth rate can vary by cat, but if a cat has polycystic kidney disease, they will be born with it—meaning cats of any age can be diagnosed, though symptoms likely won’t be seen till your cat is older. Though there’s no cure, there are treatments that can keep the kidney functioning as it should. This is another disease where it’s important to talk to a breeder to see if there are any carriers in a kitten’s family.

Symptoms can include:
  • Drinking more
  • Urinating more often
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
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7. Peritoneopericardial Diaphragmatic Hernia (PPDH)

Unlike the type of hernia you’re probably thinking of, a peritoneopericardial diaphragmatic hernia is actually a congenital defect. Developing during the embryologic stage, this hernia interrupts communication between the pericardium and the peritoneum (because the diaphragm doesn’t form as it should, the tissue sac surrounding the heart gets attached to tissue in the stomach). The end result of this is that organs that should be in the stomach area may move to the chest area, which, as you can imagine, isn’t great for your cat. Luckily, some hernias will be small enough that this won’t happen, and if found, surgery should rectify the issue.

Symptoms can include:
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
British Short-hair Cat beside shoes
Image Credit: horvathta, Shutterstock
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8. Cataracts

Cataracts can occur in many cat breeds as they age, but the British Shorthair has shown a genetic predisposition towards having them. You’ve likely seen cataracts in animals before—they’re noticeable because the eye grows cloudy. There are several reasons a cat can develop cataracts, including inflammation, diabetes, cancer, and more. If your British Shorthair develops cataracts, often the issue can be fixed with surgery. But cats also can learn to live with it and still lead happy and healthy lives, so discuss whether the surgery would be more beneficial or risky with your vet.

Symptoms can include:
  • Cloudiness in the eye
  • Trouble seeing
  • Bumping into things in the house

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Just because the British Shorthair is prone to the conditions on this list doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily develop them. Each cat will be different in regards to its health, and several factors will influence how healthy they are, such as diet and care. So, if you’re interested in this adorable cat breed, don’t worry unnecessarily about these health concerns; simply be aware they are possibilities.

You might also like:Is My Cat Deaf? 6 Ways to Tell If Your Cat Is Deaf

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Featured Image Credit: Michal-Bednarek, Shutterstock