Genetic DNA Testing and Potential Health Conditions in The British Shorthair

The British shorthairs are generally a healthy breed of cats and can live up to almost 20 years. However, similar to many cat breeds, these too can suffer from a few different health conditions, which are recognized by breeders having done a DNA test.

Some associations can do this for you, or you can do it yourself. A few things that breeders and vets can check for your cat is their parentage, genetics and any possible hereditary diseases.

This should be an important part of adopting a cat, or any other domestic pet for that matter, as you can be well prepared for the signs and symptoms of any hereditary illnesses before they creep up. This link can explain how this is done, and we will touch on it briefly below as well.


Cat Genetic Testing

How does this work? When you take your cat to the laboratory that offers this service, or to the vet. They will take a swab of the cat’s cheek to extract their DNA and use chemical extraction to gather all the relevant data.

Laboratories have specific gear that can read and record any feline’s genetic code which is uniquely theirs. The machines they use, allows the scientists to look at a variety of data including thousands of variants to discover their ancestry and compare it to other pedigrees. This is one way to also tell if your feline is a pure breed or not.

There are various types of information you can gather from doing a DNA test, these include the different types of breeds, such as:

  • Western Breed – which will be either from the Americas or Europe
  • Hybrid Breeds – from domestic crosses of wild cats
  • Eastern Breeds – these would primarily be from Asia
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In most cases, your cat will belong to one of these categories. If one of them is dominant, they are ranked in order of genetic traits and similarities. Another thing you can tell is their Chromosome painting: which allows scientists to identify individual chromosomes in their structure and sensitivities. It can tell the similarities between your cat and others, as well as why it looks the way it does in colour and patterns.

There are a few common conditions you can find with these types of tests, which affect these felines in particular. We look at these below.

Common Conditions That Affect the British Shorthairs


As one of the most commonly diagnosed health conditions in cats, Cardiomyopathy causes the muscular walls of the felines heart to thicken which leads to a decrease in inefficiency when it comes to pumping blood properly throughout the body and can cause issues with other parts of their body and organs too.

It can be detected through the DNA test to identify mutations of certain heart genes, as well as an x-ray, EEG and ultrasound. Vets can prescribe certain medications to slow down the worsening of the disease.  Other breeds that can be affected include Persian cats, Ragdoll, Maine Coon, sphynx and Persians.

Usually, it’s the thickening of the heart left ventricle, which is the primary pump that feeds the rest of its body with blood and oxygen. When this is hindered it makes it hard for them to be comfortable, breathe properly and be active.

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This can be hard to detect issues, and any signs you see that your cat seems a bit off, you should take them to the vet immediately. Although there has yet to be a cure found for this, a proper care plan can alleviate the congestion and prevent blood clots from forming in their hearts and the rest of their bodies.

There are also a few things that you can do for them at home. Such as feed them a nutritious diet with foods that help the heart, such as those given to holistapet cats and contain valuable additions such as CBD oil, vitamins and minerals. Try not to play with too much but keep activity levels to a minimum with a few short walks up and down the garden. Make sure they have a good place to sleep and be comfortable and keep a keen eye on them.

Other Potential Health Problems

Other potential issues that may arise include:

Polycystic kidney disease: when a cyst forms inside the cat’s kidneys and causes the organ to fail. This can also be detected by a DNA or Genetic test as well as an ultrasound. Again, with this, there is no known cure but medication and the right drugs can help to stop it from advancing and getting worse.

Hyperthyroidism: a common occurrence, which is significant of an excess of thyroid hormone production, this can affect their metabolism and cause other serious problems. Because this hormone is so prevalent throughout the body, it can affect the rest of their organs. If you see that your cat is acting sluggish, and losing weight, you should get them checked out with the vet.

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Signs of this condition besides weight loss, include, panting, a greasy coat, and sickness like vomiting or not looking well and acting off. With the right surgery and medication, it can be fixed.

Cystitis: the cat’s urinary tract is affected by this problem, and can get inflamed. Due to the inflammation of their urinary bladders, it can be difficult to cure completely, but vets usually put them on a specific medical diet and encourage owners to give them lots of water. The effects can lead to other issues such as bladder stones, a bacterial infection, blood in their urine and stress.

If you see them urinating frequently and have blood in their urine you will need to take them for a checkup and possible treatment with antibiotics, at the vet.

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