5 common British Shorthair health issues

If you’re thinking about getting a British Shorthair cat, or if you own one already, here’s what you should know about their health.

The conditions described down below have a significant rate of incidence or a strong impact upon this breed particularly, according to a general consensus among feline genetic researchers and veterinary practitioners. This does not mean your cat will have these problems, only that she may be more at risk than other cats.

1. Heart disease

British Shorthairs can have a genetic predisposition for heart disease.

The most common form is HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), which means a thickening of the heart muscle often caused by an overactive thyroid gland.

It’s difficult for cat owners to identify illness signs on their cats because of their ability to hide these signs for a long period of time. That’s why regular checkups with your veterinarian are so important.


2. Arterial Thromboembolism

Cats with heart disease may develop blood clots in their arteries known as FATE (feline aortic thromboembolisms).

Blood clots most commonly might remain blocked just past the aorta, the large blood vessel that supplies blood from the heart to the body, blocking normal blood flow to the hind legs. When this happens, one or both hind legs may become paralyzed, cold, or painful. FATE is a life-threatening disease and requires quick action and prolonged medical care.


3. Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is caused by a defective gene. The disease was first recognized in Persians and is seen occasionally in other breeds, including British Shorthairs.

Affected kittens are born with tiny cysts inside the kidneys and sometimes the liver, that slowly enlarges over time, eventually destroying the affected organ.

Symptoms usually become apparent around seven years of age on average. These symptoms include weight loss, vomiting, excessive thirst, and poor overall health.


4. Cataract

Cataracts are a common cause of blindness in older Shorthairs. The onset of the disease presents with the lenses of the eyes becoming more opaque, or more cloudy than clear.


5. FIP Susceptibility

Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP, is a disease caused by a type of coronavirus. All cats may carry this virus in a dormant state, but if the virus undergoes a combination of specific mutations, it can act on a susceptible cat’s immune system, causing the cat to develop FIP. British Shorthairs seem to be more at risk for developing FIP than other breeds. FIP causes damage to the blood vessels (vasculitis) and fluid build-up inside the abdomen or chest