British Shorthair Cat

The Best Cat Food for British Shorthairs

The British Shorthair is an ancient breed.

Experts generally agree that the domestic British cat originated when Romans brought cats to the British Isles in the 1st century A.D. The Roman cats are thought to have been heavily influenced by Egyptian cats of the time which were popular in the Roman Empire.

The cats brought to Britain interbred with native cats to produce a large, powerful, muscular cat that became the basic farm and household cat known throughout Britain for centuries. This domestic British shorthaired cat was appreciated for its calm, gentle nature. They were easy keepers and had no difficulty getting along with other animals and with people.

In the 19th century Victorians decided to standardized the appearance of the British cat. Breeders began breeding the cats as a pedigreed breed and they were the first cats exhibited at the first cat show in London in 1871.

The breed had a surge in popularity but by the 1890s Persians and other longhaired cats, newly brought from the East, had replaced them in the public’s affections. British Shorthairs experienced hard times as breeders experimented with crossing them with longhaired cats and the natural appearance of the breed changed.

Most of the pedigreed breeding stock was lost during the war years and breeders had to start over with their remaining cats. There were crosses with Persians, native unregistered cats, the Russian Blue, and the French Chartreux to try to return the breed to its proper appearance. By the 1970s the British Shorthair was finally in good shape once again and had been accepted by most cat registries around the world.

Today the British Shorthair is the most popular breed in Great Britain and it has many followers around the world.

Diet & Nutrition

We realize that many cat lovers like the idea of feeding a raw food diet and it’s often recommended by experts. Many British Shorthair breeders prefer a raw or homemade diet for their cats. However, this kind of diet is not easy for everyone to follow. Most people feed their cats commercial cat food – either canned or dry. Yet, even if you feed your British Shorthair a commercial diet, you can make sure that you feed a good quality food.

As with other cats, we recommend that you choose food for your British Shorthair that is AAFCO- (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved. AAFCO is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies. While AAFCO is not perfect, at least it provides some minimum standards for pet foods and labeling.

Here are some things you should look for in a good cat food:

  • Named meats
  • Avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Low carbs

According to experts like Lisa Pierson, DVM, cats are intended to eat a diet that is high in protein, moderate in fat, and very low in carbohydrates. She suggests around 50 percent protein, 40 percent (or less fat, and 1-2 percent carbohydrates in the cat’s diet. She also recommends poultry and rabbit as the best sources of protein for cats and feels that cats should not have much fish. Fish can be addictive for many cats; toxins and mercury can be a problem in some fish; and fish has a high potential to be an allergen for some cats, along with beef.

Dr. Pierson also says that by-products in cat food have a worse reputation than they deserve. They form a natural part of the cat’s diet and include some nutritious parts such as liver and kidneys. They can also include some parts that are not fit for human consumption. Per Dr. Pierson, by-products in canned cat foods have some benefits such as being meat/organ-based protein and not contributing carbohydrates to the food. She prefers canned food containing by-products to dry cat food that contains high amounts of carbohydrate grains or plant-based proteins.

For these reasons we do not automatically discount some cat foods that use meat by-products, especially if they are low in carbohydrates. You should also look for foods that have added taurine and added Vitamin A since cats need these nutrients in their diets and cannot make them in sufficient quantities in their own bodies.

Human grade ingredients and foods that are grain free and potato-free (as recommended by some breeders) would be ideal. However, some people may not be able to feed these foods, for whatever reasons. Or maybe your cat hates the most nutritious, expensive foods. Sometimes that happens. Randy, the British Shorthair, might refuse to eat the cat food that is $5 per can. He wants the generic cat food from the grocery store that is pretty much pure crap. When that happens, do your best to get Randy to eat a better quality food but remember that the most important thing is for your cat to eat, even if you hate the food he likes. It’s better for your cat to eat a lousy food than to stop eating. A cat that refuses to eat for a couple of days can start to have some serious health problems so let your cat have the lousy food, even if you hate it.

You can try to sneak some better quality food in with the inexpensive food. If your cat objects, try offering him some meat protein as a snack. He might like some cooked or raw meat added to his diet or as a treat. However, you shouldn’t let these additions become permanent since they will not be balanced with the other vitamins and minerals he needs in his diet. If your cat really refuses to let you upgrade his food, you can let the matter drop for a while and try again in a few weeks or months. Perhaps Randy will change his mind or his taste buds at some point.

Many cat owners today prefer wet (canned or similar) foods over dry foods. Cats, including British Shorthairs, often have urinary tract diseases which are worsened by dry foods and not drinking enough water. Wet/canned foods provide much more moisture in the cat’s diet. However, there are some situations where you might prefer to feed a dry cat food or it fits better with your lifestyle. In these situations, make sure that you are providing your cat with plenty of fresh water. It’s often a good idea to provide an automatic waterer, especially the fountain type, since the running water seems to encourage cats to drink more.

Common Health Problems Related To Food

British Shorthairs do have a few health issues such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Older sources recommend protein restriction for cats with heart failure to prevent stress on the liver and kidneys. However, the current thinking is that there is no real evidence that protein restriction is needed for cats with heart failure. Certainly not for cats with mild to moderate conditions. Protein restriction can have a negative outcome because it can cause cats to lose valuable muscle mass – which leads to decreased survival times. Unless a cat has severe kidney disease, a protein-restricted diet is not recommended for the dietary management of heart failure. Instead, experts recommend a high quality diet with 40-50 percent meat-based protein (DMB).

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If your cat has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it may be more important to watch his salt intake. Some cat foods do contain salt in various forms.

  • Cats with no obvious signs of heart disease

If a cat has no obvious signs of heart disease, only mild sodium (salt) restriction is recommended. At this stage, it is more important to keep the sodium (salt) consumption at the same level every day to avoid sudden spikes in blood sodium level.

  • Cats with moderate heart disease (heart enlargement)

For cats with moderate heart disease moderate sodium restriction is recommended

  • Cats with severe heart disease / congestive heart failure

For cats with congestive heart failure significant sodium (salt) restriction is recommended and with refractory congestive heart failure may require extreme sodium restriction to help maintain their comfort when symptoms cannot be well-controlled with medication.

If your cat has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s diet. Cats with this condition can also benefit from the addition of some supplements, such as taurine and carnitine, among others.

The British Shorthair is particularly prone to gaining weight. They are a large, somewhat chunky breed so they can gain weight more easily than some breeds and you should watch their weight and calories as they get older. Most cats today live indoors and many are spayed/neutered, which increases their risks of becoming obese since the absence of certain hormones can slow their metabolism. Obesity is one of the health problems most frequently seen in cats today. Many middle-aged cats (often between 5-10 years of age) gain weight, have excess body fat, and get very little exercise. Cats simply eat more food than they can use up with their energy requirements. This can be caused by overfeeding, by leaving down food for free feeding at all times, by feeding high-calorie foods, and by giving high-calorie treats, along with lack of exercise.

There can be other causes of obesity but in most cases cats become obese because they are eating more calories than they can use. If your British Shorthair is overweight or obese, he should be encouraged to lose weight. A weight loss diet for cats typically relies on higher protein and fiber with lower fat. You can also encourage your cat to get more exercise.

Obesity can lead to serious health problems for cats so this condition should be addressed. It can reduce your cat’s lifespan, affect his bones and joints, digestive organs, and his ability to breathe properly.

British Shorthairs are also one of the breeds particularly prone to developing urinary tract stones or bladder stones, though they can affect most cats. In male cats crystals may plug the urethra, which can become a life-threatening condition because it prevents the cat from urinating. In other cats, stones develop somewhere along the urinary tract (kidneys, bladder, urethra, etc.). Some cats may strain and pass blood when trying to urinate. The crystals and stones are formed by minerals in the cat’s urine. The cat’s diet is believed to play a role in the development of the crystals and stones since they are more likely to develop in urine that is alkaline. Cats that eat a dry food diet are also more prone to developing urinary tract stones.

Stones and crystals are a serious health problem. If your cat is having urinary tract problems, you should see your veterinarian. It’s important to identify the kind of stones or crystals your cat has. There are special diets available so you can change the pH of the food you are feeding. One thing that all cat owners can do to help prevent the formation of crystals and stones is to make sure their cat is drinking plenty of water. Drinking more water keeps urine less concentrated. It encourages your cat to pee more often so the urine will stay in the urinary tract for shorter periods of time, meaning there is less chance of crystals collecting.


British Shorthair Eating Habits

Most British Shorthairs are known for being easy to please when it comes to food. They have a reputation for enjoying their food and not being especially picky. Of course, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, the British Shorthair seems to be a cat that likes to tuck in to his food without much fuss.

You should choose a good quality, healthy food that appeals to your cat. Some people prefer one of the raw diets while others like to feed wet/canned food. There are good dry cat foods but many cat experts today recommend wet/canned foods instead of dry because of the urinary tract problems cats can have which are often linked to not having enough moisture in their diet.

Make sure you always have fresh, clean water available for your British Shorthair.

You can typically feed a British Shorthair kitten that is three-months-old three small meals per day. This can be reduced to two meals per day by the time the kitten is six months of age but you should be increasing the amount of food. Remove any food that is not eaten after about 10 minutes. This is particularly true with wet/canned food. Any food left sitting in the floor will soon go rancid. Overfeeding and free feeding, in general, can lead to obesity in cats – a particular problem with British Shorthairs. Measuring how much food you feed your cat and feeding at regular times are a couple of good ways to keep their calories and weight under control.

Snacks aren’t usually as much of a problem with cats as they are with dogs but if you do give your kitty snacks, keep in mind that treats have calories just like other food and will put extra pounds on your British Shorthair. We really have to emphasize that this is a breed that is prone to gaining weight and getting chubby which can lead to health problems so please watch how much you are feeding your British Shorthair.

Best Cat Food For British Shorthairs

Like other cats, British Shorthairs will thrive on good food. Most British Shorthairs should do well on good quality foods that are available commercially (unless you plan to feed a raw or homemade diet). However, it’s always important to watch your cat’s weight and condition. If your cat begins to gain or lose weight, that can be a sign of a change in his health and he should see a veterinarian. Becoming overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems for your British Shorthair so you might need to change his food or cut back on his portions. While many British Shorthairs live very long lives (some as long as 20 years), it’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about changes in your cat’s eating habits, weight, physical condition, or behavior.

We do recommend paying attention to the calories in foods and fat percentages. If your British Shorthair is having digestive problems, for example, you may be feeding him too much food or food that is too rich in fat. Check the calories and adjust his portion to the amount he actually needs. You can sometimes find calorie information on the can or bag. If not, check the web site for the brand. It is usually listed. AAFCO guidelines now recommend that pet food companies begin including calorie information for pets but not every company has complied.

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Best Food For Adult British Shorthairs

Research shows that adult cats need a minimum of 26 percent protein in their diet (dry matter basis). Many good quality cat foods will have a much higher percentage of protein. In the wild or living as a feral, a cat would eat 50-60 percent protein in their diet and around 25 percent fat, from catching live food. We have suggested some foods for adult British Shorthairs that approach these figures. We think these foods are suitable for active young adult British Shorthairs.

Food Price Nutrition Rating
Earthborn Holistic Primitive FelineEarthborn Holistic Primitive Feline (Dry)
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$2.29/lb A+ 5 stars
Instinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble For Cats Chicken FormulaInstinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble For Cats Chicken Formula (Dry)
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$4.50/lb A 5 star
Wellness Complete Health (canned) Turkey & Salmon RecipeSmalls for Smalls Fresh Chicken Pate
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Varies A 5 stars
Wellness Complete Health (canned) Turkey & Salmon RecipeWellness Complete Health (canned) Turkey & Salmon Recipe (Wet)
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$2.83/12.5 oz can A 5 stars
Tiki Cat Queen Emma Luau Variety Pack Canned Cat FoodTiki Cat Queen Emma Luau Variety Pack Canned Cat Food (Wet)
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$1.52/2.8 oz can A 5 stars

Recommended Dry Foods

If you are looking for good dry foods, there are some that we like. Again, it is especially important to make sure that your cat is drinking plenty of water if you are feeding a dry cat food.

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Feline

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Feline is high in protein, grain and gluten-free. It has good sources of meat protein that British Shorthairs should enjoy and it’s low in carbs. It also has the added nutrients and supplements that British Shorthairs (and other cats) need to stay healthy. This is an all life stage formula so you can feed it to kittens and adult cats. Earthborn Primitive Feline also comes in a Wild Sea Catch Grain Free dry cat food formula and several canned recipes.

Instinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble For Cats Chicken Formula

Instinct Grain Free Ultimate Protein Kibble for Cats Chicken Formula uses only real chicken – no rendered meats, chicken meal, or by-product meal. It’s high in protein and slightly lower in fat than some other dry cat foods. We think it’s a good choice for British Shorthairs that love their meat protein but might need to be a little more careful about calories. Otherwise, this food has everything your cat could want to stay healthy. And the food should appeal to your cat. The kibble pieces have a freeze dried raw coating for better taste. If your British Shorthair likes a little more raw in his food, you can try Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Kibble, with freeze-dried raw pieces mixed in with the kibble.

Wet Foods

Smalls for Smalls Fresh Chicken Pate

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas

Smalls for Smalls makes fresh cat food that is carefully formulated for your cat based on a profile you create when you sign up. Smalls for Smalls recipes have high protein content because cats are primarily carnivores and get most of their nutrition from meat. Cat owners also love that Smalls for Smalls recipes have a high water content, because cats get a lot of their hydration directly from their food.

Smalls for Smalls says that if the ingredients wouldn’t be good enough for humans to eat, then they don’t deem it good enough for your cat, either–something you can feel great about! They gently cook all their recipes so the nutrition is locked in, and the benefits are numerous.

Wellness Complete Health (canned) Turkey & Salmon Recipe

We like this food for British Shorthairs because it has lots of meat protein and it’s low in carbs. We think Wellness Complete Health comes close to the kind of protein and fat percentages your cat would eat if he were catching his own food. It should satisfy his craving for meat and it’s a healthy food. Wellness has lots of recipes so you can rotate and find flavors that your British Shorthair likes. (A little fish now and then, included with other ingredients, shouldn’t be a problem.)

Tiki Cat Queen Emma Luau Variety Pack Canned Cat Food

Tiki Cat is another food that is often highly recommended for adult cats. We think that British Shorthairs can benefit from eating this food. This food contains very natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals. It’s high in moisture, protein, and fat, like food that your British Shorthair would catch as prey. Tiki Cat’s foods mimic live prey to a great extent and are biologically appropriate for cats. This variety pack features twelve 2.8-oz cans of the following formulas: (2) Hookena Luau, (2) Hanalei Luau, (2) Koolina Luau, (2) Puka Puka Luau, (2) Papeekeo Luau and (2) Napili Luau which provides your cat with ahi tuna and chicken, wild salmon, two different kinds of chicken, tuna and mackerel, and salmon and chicken. Grain, gluten, carbohydrate, starch and flour-free recipes. We really like Tiki Cat but some of their formulas are all fish. This variety pack includes a lot of chicken, too, which is why we prefer it.

Best Kitten Food For British Shorthairs

Food for kittens should have an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement that says the food is appropriate for growth/reproduction. All life stage foods can also be fed to kittens since these foods have been approved for cats at all stages of growth and for adult cats. Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats on a maintenance diet. For example, kittens need a minimum of 30 percent protein for growth, while adult cats need a minimum of 26 percent. Kittens need more calcium while they are growing, and so on. So, look for foods that are especially made for kittens or foods that are all life stage foods (which may also be labeled as “growth and reproduction”).

Dry Food

Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

If you prefer a dry food for your kitten, we suggest the bestselling Orijen Cat & Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. Like other Orijen foods, Orijen Cat & Kitten is biologically appropriate. Some 90 percent of the ingredients are poultry, fish, and eggs, with just 10 percent from vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. The food contains whole prey ratios of meat, organs, cartilage, and other ingredients so it is more natural and like eating nutrients from live prey for your British Shorthair kitten. Kittens should also find the food tasty since it has infusions of freeze dried liver. Note: this food is now made in Orijen’s Kentucky kitchens. Orijen also makes several other dry cat foods which are described in this brochure.

Wet Food

Wellness Complete Health Kitten Recipe

We think British Shorthair kittens will do well on Wellness Complete Health Kitten Recipe. This food has plenty of protein, fat, and calories to provide the energy your kitten needs to grow. Healthy ingredients support healthy growth. We think your British Shorthair kitten will grow strong muscles and bones eating this food.

Best Cat Food For Overweight British Shorthairs

Many cats today have problems with weight gain, especially if they are indoor cats and they don’t get much exercise. High quality cat foods often have high fat percentages. If your cat needs to watch his weight, look for a good quality food that is high in protein with slightly less fat than usual. Don’t try to make your cat lose a lot of weight quickly. Instead, feed a nutritious food and control his portions. He should lose weight slowly, at a healthy rate. There are few things worse than a cat that thinks he’s starving! He will make your life miserable. If your cat needs to lose a lot of weight, talk to your veterinarian and make a plan for healthy weight loss.

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Wellness CORE Grain Free Indoor Dry Cat Food

We think British Shorthairs will enjoy this food. It’s high in protein and it features turkey and chicken. It has no meat by-products or fillers and no grain, corn, soy, wheat-gluten or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. Plus, it’s an indoor formula with 20 percent less fat than the original CORE Grain Free formula which is helpful for cats like the British Shorthair that need to watch their weight. This is a maintenance food so it’s only meant to be fed to adult cats.

Best Cat Food For Senior British Shorthairs

Senior cats tend to be different from senior dogs. Most mature cats have decreasing energy needs until they are about 11 years of age. At that time their energy requirements start increasing again as they grow older. Middle-aged cats often have problems with obesity but as they age, cats can begin to lose weight. These elderly cats may not digest or absorb protein and fat as well as younger cats. They often need food that is easy to digest so they can get the energy they need. As your cat gets older, it’s important to monitor his weight and condition so you can adjust his diet. There is no need to restrict the amount of protein your older cat eats unless he has a specific health issue and your veterinarian recommends a change in his diet.

Bearing in mind the fact that British Shorthairs can live to be 20 years of age, these are important considerations for this breed.

Dry Food

Fromm Mature Gold

High in protein and moderate in fat, Fromm Mature Gold still has enough calories to keep your older British Shorthair happy. This food has the same good ingredients that Fromm foods normally have but they manage to make this food with a little less fat. We think this food is good for less active older British Shorthairs and those who might need to lose a little weight. Fromm also has an adult Gold formula and one for kittens.

Wet Food

Precise Naturals® Senior Formula

Another food we recommend for older cats is Precise Naturals Senior Formula, especially if you prefer a canned food. This food has ingredients that your British Shorthair should find tasty and easy-to-digest. It has high protein and fat and plenty of moisture in this canned form. Plus, Precise is known for making specialized diets. We think senior British Shorthairs can benefit from eating this senior formula.

Best Cat Food For British Shorthairs With Food Allergies/Intolerances

Any animal can have a food allergy or intolerance, regardless of breed. If your British Shorthair has a sensitive stomach or a skin irritation due to a food intolerance, here are some foods we recommend.

Sensitive Stomach

If your cat has a sensitive stomach he may vomit or have diarrhea. He may gag. He may refuse his food or not eat from time to time. As someone who loves your cat, you know how distressing this can be. You may need to take your cat to the vet to make sure there is nothing wrong. If the problem is a sensitive stomach, you may need to try different foods to find out what your cat can tolerate eating. Sometimes a limited ingredient diet cat food is a good choice, especially if you can identify the particular ingredient(s) which bother your cat and avoid them. Wet/canned foods usually have fewer ingredients than dry foods so it’s often easier to avoid certain ingredients if you feed a canned food. These foods may only contain a meat protein, added vitamins and minerals, and a couple of other ingredients. Dry foods often have many more ingredients since they require carbs/starches and binding ingredients.

Natural Balance makes several dry and canned limited ingredient foods that are considered to be hypoallergenic. The protein is comparatively low (for a cat food) and the fiber content is high so you can expect your cat to have softer stools on these foods. The formulas have single-source proteins and limited carbs. These foods are often recommended for cats with sensitive digestion.

We also like Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Turkey Formula (and their other limited ingredient formulas). Instinct uses a single source of animal protein in these formulas. The ingredients are easy for a cat like your British Shorthair to digest. You can feed the food in rotation with other formulas or stay with one formula. The food has plenty of protein which should satisfy your British Shorthair. And, since it’s a canned food, there is plenty of moisture in the food. We think one of these limited ingredient diet Instinct foods is a good choice for any cat with a sensitive stomach.

Skin Irritation

British Shorthairs, like other cats, can also develop skin irritations due to food allergies. The allergy can make them itch, which leads to scratching, which makes the skin raw. Next thing you know, you have irritated skin which can get infected. If your cat does have this kind of skin allergy, it’s a good idea to see your veterinarian. You may need to work through food trials and an elimination diet to identify the ingredients that your cat is allergic to.

If you think you know the cause of your cat’s food allergy, you can try to find foods that don’t contain that ingredient. Again, we recommend a limited ingredient diet. Foods with fewer ingredients are less likely to contain the offending ingredient and it’s easier for you to control what your cat is eating. If you do need to use an elimination diet, there are prescription diets. You just need a prescription from your veterinarian and you can order the food online.

For a limited ingredient diet without a prescription you can try one of the foods from Natural Balance such as L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets® Duck & Green Pea Canned Cat Formula. The Natural Balance LID foods use a single source of animal protein and limited carb sources. They are grain free and they use alternative ingredients that are less likely to trigger a reaction in your British Shorthair. Some of the protein comes from peas to avoid animal protein triggers. This is a bestselling food for all cats that have food allergies and we think a British Shorthair with a food allergy would benefit from it.


The beautiful, kind British Shorthair is a very old breed. This is the breed you know from classics such as Alice In Wonderland (the Cheshire Cat) and Beatrix Potter’s tales; cats from old English nursery rhymes; and the quiet, patient cat in countless English paintings, poems, and novels through the centuries. They have graced the homes of Prime Ministers and Kings, farmers, fishermen, and miners. They are thoroughly British cats. It’s no wonder that the British Shorthair is such a favorite in the UK today. We hope you have the chance to get to know this wonderful breed in person.

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