Health and Wellness

The British Shorthair today is a very healthy, long-lived breed.  However, because of outcrossing with Persian cats, some cats occasionally come down with kidney disease, although this is not common.  Also, some Brits have a special blood type that breeders need to watch out for.  Like all cats, these shorthairs also need core vaccinations and routine updates.

Polycystic kidney disease and blood type B

In the twentieth century, British Shorthair cat breeders used Persian cats in their efforts to build up the line.  Persians are prone to a hereditary disorder of the kidneys called polycystic kidney disease (PKD).  There have been occasional outbreaks of this disease in Brits ever since.  These cases have been rare, though, and a 1999 study at the University of Melbourne on feline PKD found that the disease wasn’t present in any of the British Shorthairs it examined.

A more common problem for Brits involves blood type.  Most cats have type A blood.  British Shorthairs can have either type A or type B.  This isn’t a blood disease and type B cats are just as healthy as the ones with type A.  It is only important if you plan to breed the cat or if it needs a transfusion (type A blood kills a cat with type B blood and vice versa).

British Shorthair cat breeders worry about blood type because of “fading kitten” syndrome.  When the mother cat is type B and the father is type A, their kittens will be either type A or type B.  It’s heartbreaking, but the mother’s milk has antibodies against type A blood that will kill the type A kittens within 72 hours.  Fortunately, there is a DNA test available now to check blood type before a cat mates.