As mentioned, British Shorthair health is generally good. This page is an addendum to health issues mentioned on the main British Shorthair cat page. Two diseases that have been reported in this cat breed and/or are more commonly occurring in Brit SH cats are referred to here.
This disease is an hereditary deficiency in clotting factor IX. It is also called Christmas Disease. A lot of us have heard of hemophilia as it affects some people too. Cats carrying this defective gene may bleed heavily after injury or surgery. The trait is recessive X chromosome linked. Heterozygous females are asymptomatic but can pass the disease to male offspring. An “asymptomatic carrier” is an individual who has contracted the disease but displays no symptoms of the disease.
Treatment consists of blood transfusions or plasma twice daily until the bleeding stops. The disease can be eradicated from catteries by testing for Factor IX in breeding cats and removing them from the breeding program.
This disorder is more commonly found in Brit SH cats. It concerns the destruction of red blood cells in newborn cats. The reason is the difference in blood type between the newborn kittens and their mother (the queen).
Cat blood types are named type A and type B (not to be confused with human blood type names). Most cats have type A. For example in a test of 300 Siamese, Burmese and Oriental Shorthair cats all tested for type A blood. But in the following breeds, 10-15% of the cats will test for type B blood:
- Himalayan (pointed Persian)
- Scottish Fold
- Japanese Bobtail
- Somali (long haired Abyssinian)
- Devon Rex
- Cornish Rex
- British Shorthair (more commonly in this cat breed than for the others above)
Type A cats have weak anti-A antibodies, while type B cats have strong anti-B antibodies. Neonatal Erythrolysis sometimes happens when kittens of type A are born to a mother of type B. The mother’s type B blood contains strong anti-blood type A antibodies. These antibodies are transmitted to the kittens in the mother’s milk (colostrum) and can destroy the kitten’s blood cells. The problem can affect all or some of the litter. Kittens seem healthy initially but soon (hours to days) show signs of distress, fail to nurse and becoming weak before dying. The speed with which the symptoms are demonstrated varies. The kitten’s urine will be red or brown (the hallmark test). The kitten will appear anemic or jaundiced (turned yellow). The tip of the tail can be necrotic (necrotic tissue is dead tissue). Kittens usually die in the first week of life.
Breeders avoid this tragic condition by blood typing all of their breeding cats. Type B queens are not mated with type A males.
British Shorthair Health – Source: Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats, edited by Dr Clark DVM