Do British Shorthair Cats Have Eye Problems? Common Eye Problems

The British Shorthair is one of the most popular cat breeds in the world, known for their round faces, dense coats, and calm, affectionate personalities. These sturdy felines make wonderful companions and are generally quite healthy. However, like all purebred cats, British Shorthairs can be prone to certain hereditary health issues, including eye disorders.

As a British Shorthair owner, it’s important to be aware of the potential eye problems that may affect your furry friend. By understanding the signs and symptoms to watch out for, you can help ensure your cat receives prompt diagnosis and treatment if any issues arise. Let’s take a closer look at some of the eye conditions British Shorthairs may face.

Are British Shorthair cats Prone to Eye Disorders?

While British Shorthairs are a generally healthy breed, they do have a higher incidence of certain inherited eye disorders compared to mixed breed cats. Studies have shown that purebred cats, in general, are more likely to develop hereditary eye diseases due to selective breeding practices that can concentrate deleterious genes in the population.

It’s important to note that not all British Shorthairs will develop these conditions, but being aware of the breed’s predispositions can help you stay vigilant about your cat’s ocular health.

Some of the most common eye disorders seen in British Shorthairs include:

  1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  2. Cataracts
  3. Glaucoma
  4. Conjunctivitis
  5. Entropion
  6. Cherry eye

It’s essential for British Shorthair owners to be aware of these potential eye issues and to monitor their cat’s eye health regularly. By catching eye problems early, you can help prevent more serious complications and ensure your cat maintains good vision throughout their life.

Common Eye Problems in British Shorthair Cats

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A Genetic Eye Disorder

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic eye disorder that can affect British Shorthairs. This condition causes the gradual deterioration of the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye. As the retina deteriorates, the cat’s vision becomes increasingly impaired, eventually leading to blindness.

PRA is an inherited disorder, meaning it is passed down from parent to offspring. Responsible breeders will have their cats tested for the genetic mutations that cause PRA before breeding them. If you’re considering adopting a British Shorthair, be sure to ask the breeder about their eye health screening practices.

Symptoms of PRA in cats may include:

  • Night blindness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bumping into objects
  • Reluctance to jump or climb
  • Cloudy or shiny appearance to the eyes

Unfortunately, there is no cure for PRA, and the condition will eventually lead to complete blindness. However, cats with PRA can still live happy, fulfilling lives with the right care and accommodations.

Cataracts: A Common Cause of Vision Loss

Cataracts are another eye problem that can affect British Shorthairs. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which can cause vision loss and even blindness if left untreated. Cataracts can develop as a result of aging, injury, or underlying health conditions such as diabetes.Symptoms of cataracts in cats may include:

  • Cloudy or white appearance to the eye
  • Vision loss
  • Bumping into objects
  • Changes in behavior, such as increased vocalization or aggression

If caught early, cataracts can sometimes be treated with surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one. However, not all cats are good candidates for cataract surgery, and the decision to pursue surgery should be made in consultation with a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Glaucoma: A Painful Eye Condition

Glaucoma is a painful eye condition that occurs when the pressure inside the eye becomes too high. This increased pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss or even blindness. Glaucoma can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, infection, or underlying health conditions.Symptoms of glaucoma in cats may include:

  • Redness and swelling of the eye
  • Cloudy appearance to the eye
  • Dilated pupils
  • Squinting or holding the eye closed
  • Rubbing or pawing at the eye

Glaucoma is a serious condition that requires prompt veterinary treatment. Medications can be used to reduce the pressure inside the eye and prevent further damage to the optic nerve. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected eye and relieve the cat’s pain.

Common Eye Infection

1. Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye,” is a common eye infection that can affect cats of all breeds, including British Shorthairs. This condition occurs when the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid, becomes inflamed and irritated.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis in cats may include:

  • Redness and swelling of the eye
  • Discharge from the eye (may be clear, white, yellow, or green)
  • Squinting or holding the eye closed
  • Rubbing or pawing at the eye

Conjunctivitis can be caused by a variety of factors, including viral or bacterial infections, allergies, or foreign bodies in the eye. Treatment for conjunctivitis will depend on the underlying cause, but may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, or eye drops.

2. Entropion:

Entropion is an eyelid abnormality that can affect British Shorthairs and other cat breeds. This condition occurs when the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes and hair to rub against the surface of the eye. Over time, this constant irritation can lead to corneal ulcers, infections, and vision loss.

Symptoms of entropion in cats may include:

  • Squinting or holding the eye closed
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Rubbing or pawing at the eye
  • Cloudiness or opacity of the cornea

Entropion is usually a congenital condition, meaning it is present from birth. However, it can also develop as a result of injury or scarring to the eyelid. Treatment for entropion typically involves surgery to correct the abnormal eyelid position and prevent further damage to the eye.

2. Cherry Eye:

Cherry eye is a condition that occurs when the gland of the third eyelid (also known as the nictitating membrane) becomes prolapsed or “pops out” of its normal position. This can cause the gland to appear as a red, swollen mass in the corner of the eye.

While cherry eye is more commonly seen in certain dog breeds, it can also affect cats, including British Shorthairs. Symptoms of cherry eye in cats may include:

  • Visible red mass in the corner of the eye
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Squinting or holding the eye closed
  • Rubbing or pawing at the eye

Cherry eye is usually treated with surgery to reposition the prolapsed gland and prevent future occurrences. If left untreated, cherry eye can lead to chronic irritation and dry eye, which can cause more serious vision problems over time.

Tips for caring for your British Shorthair’s eyes

As a British Shorthair owner, there are several things you can do to promote your cat’s eye health:

  • Have your cat’s eyes examined by a veterinarian annually, or more frequently if you notice any problems
  • Know the signs of eye trouble, such as squinting, excessive tearing, cloudiness, or sensitivity to light
  • Keep your home free of potential eye irritants like cigarette smoke, dust, and harsh chemicals
  • Provide a healthy, balanced diet to support overall health and eye function
  • Consider genetic testing before breeding British Shorthairs to avoid passing on inherited eye disorders like PRA

Grooming your British Shorthair’s eyes

Even healthy cats can experience occasional eye discharge or “sleep” in the corners of their eyes. To keep your British Shorthair’s eyes clean and comfortable, follow these steps:

Dampen a soft, clean cloth or cotton ball with warm water. Avoid using soaps, shampoos, or other irritating chemicals near the eyes.

Gently wipe away any discharge, starting from the inner corner of the eye and moving outward. Use a fresh cloth or cotton ball for each eye to avoid spreading any potential infection.

If the discharge is excessive, discolored, or accompanied by other symptoms like squinting or redness, contact your veterinarian for guidance.

Never use human eye drops or medications on your cat without first consulting your vet, as some products can be harmful or ineffective for felines


While British Shorthairs may be more prone to certain eye problems, most issues can be managed or prevented with proper care and attention. By staying informed, keeping up with regular vet visits, and promptly addressing any concerns, you can help your beloved British Shorthair maintain healthy, sparkling eyes for years to come. Remember, when it comes to your cat’s vision, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!