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British Shorthair noisy breathing—is it a real problem?

British Shorthairs are an overall healthy breed. They aren’t prone to most of the usual genetic ailments that plague many pedigree cats. They are also adorable with their rounded and slightly flat faces resembling plush teddies, but this cute trait can lead to eye problems and respiratory distress in some breeds. 

Do you need to worry about your British Shorthair's noisy breathing? Untamed explains whether these felines are genuinely brachycephalic and what the reasons for their heavy breathing could be. We will also show you how to keep your kitty healthy and prevent issues that may cause them to wheeze or snore.

Are British Shorthairs brachycephalic?

Brachycephaly implies the shortening of the skull along the vertical axis and is generally harmless. It can occur in cats naturally, regardless of the breed, presenting a cute quirk with no harmful effects on health whatsoever. Still, it can pose risks in extreme cases, as seen in Persians, Exotic Shorthairs, and Himalayans

Extreme brachycephaly can cause:

  • Breathing issues
  • Chronic eye inflammation
  • Difficulty eating
  • Skin infections (due to folding around the nose and mouth)

Like Persians, British Shorthairs have a slightly brachycephalic head shape. Despite this trait, these felines don't suffer from any chronic breathing problems or eye infections because their tear ducts are not shortened, and their noses are not flattened. 

British Shorthairs have no issues with skin infection either because they have no trouble keeping themselves clean, and they don't need much grooming other than a brush once or twice a week. As for eating problems, you may have more trouble keeping your feline friend away from food.

British Shorthair heavy breathing—what could it mean?

See, my face is far from flat!

Source: AG ZN

Having established that British Shorthairs have no inherent breathing difficulties, if you notice anything unusual, it is a cause for concern. 

The respiratory system consists of:

  1. Nose
  2. Trachea
  3. Lungs

These three organs are parts of a life-sustaining system, and any issues with them can affect your cat's entire body. As a result, any changes in your kitty's breathing can signify an underlying health issue with practically any part of their body.

Heavy breathing can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Dyspnea
  2. Tachypnea
  3. Panting

You need to understand what each of them looks like and what it could mean so that you can react swiftly.

Dyspnea or laboured breathing

Dyspnea—also known as laboured breathing—is an uncomfortable feeling of not being able to take a deep breath. Here are the symptoms you should watch out for if you suspect your cat may have this problem:

  • Visible chest and belly movements while breathing
  • Open mouth
  • Flared nostrils
  • Loud breathing
  • Restlessness and inability to sleep
  • Extended neck while trying to breathe

The table below presents the most common causes of laboured breathing:


Common causes

Tracheal disorders

  • Foreign objects stuck in the throat
  • Elongated soft palate
  • Tumours

Nasal disorders

  • Undersized nostrils
  • Infections
  • Bleeding
  • Tumours

Lung and lower windpipe diseases

  • Infections
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Heartworms
  • Tumours

Chest wall disorders

  • Physical trauma
  • Toxin-induced paralysis

Abdominal disorders

  • Enlarged liver
  • Bloating
  • Fluid buildup

Congestive heart failure

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots in the heart
  • Anaemia
  • Pregnancy

If you notice your British Shorthair is struggling to breathe, you should take them to the vet immediately.

Tachypnea or rapid and shallow breathing

While dyspnea is highly uncomfortable for cats, they may not even notice tachypnea. The most common symptoms include:

  • Bluish gums and mucous membranes (signalling inadequate oxygenation)
  • Fatigue and laziness
  • Breathing through the nose

The most common causes of rapid breathing are:

  • Hypoxemia or low blood oxygen levels
  • Anaemia
  • Heart failure
  • Heartworms
  • Fever
  • Anxiety and stress

You have nothing to worry about if you notice your cat rapidly breathing while facing an unfamiliar dog. Still, if your kitty's respiration rate is over 40 while sleeping and they become lethargic, you need to visit your vet as soon as possible.

Panting or rapid breathing with an open mouth

Most of the time, panting is not a cause for concern. The most common reasons why your British Shorthair may pant include:

  • Heat—Like dogs, cats may pant to cool themselves down. Breathing rapidly with their mouth open helps them manage their body temperature
  • Overexertion or extreme excitement—Your kitty may pant after a vigorous play session, but they may also pant due to being overweight
  • Stress—Both panting and tachypnea can occur if your feline companion is exposed to stress during a vet visit or a car ride
  • Heart problems—Panting can also be a symptom of a severe health issue, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Lung issues—Asthmatic cats can experience a range of symptoms during an asthma attack, including coughing, wheezing, and panting

What if your British Shorthair is snoring?

Flowers and I have a love-hate relationship. They love me because I make them prettier, and I hate them because they make me sneeze. 

Source: Cats Coming

Sometimes, cat snoring is a normal occurrence. Other times, it can be a sign that something is wrong.

Snoring happens because the tissues of the nose, back of the mouth, and throat vibrate as your British Shorthair is breathing. There are several reasons why your kitty may snore, including:

  • Sleeping position—If your kitty sleeps in an uncomfortable position, they may start snoring
  • The cat's anatomy—Felines with shorter heads may have narrower airways and smaller nostrils which can cause them to snore
  • Health problems—Upper respiratory infections (viral, fungal, or bacterial), rhinitis, and chronic nasal inflammation, and foreign objects that block the nasal passages can be the cause of snoring
  • Allergies—Pollen, dust, various cleaning chemicals, air fresheners, and some food ingredients are common causes of allergic reactions in cats
  • WeightYour feline's weight can affect their snoring. Overweight cats are more likely to snore than slim ones because extra fat can build up around their necks, compressing and compromising their airways

Since British Shorthairs aren't famous for being a highly active breed and tend to gain weight quickly due to their laziness, you should reduce their portions and reevaluate the food you feed them if they suddenly start snoring. Besides keeping your kitty slim, a good diet can help you avoid many other health issues, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can lead to breathing difficulties.

What's the right food for your British Shorthair?

The right food for any feline is based on meat and fish.

Image (c) Untamed

To stay fit and healthy, British Shorthairs, like all other felines, need the right quantities of:

  1. Animal protein
  2. Animal fat

Animal protein

Meat and fish are the two most important ingredients in the feline diet. Whatever type of cat food you opt for—wet, dry, semi-moist, raw, or homemade—you need to ensure it contains large quantities of animal protein. Meat is the only source of essential amino acids (such as taurine, arginine, and lysine) that felines need to stay healthy.

The best protein sources for your feline friend include:

When you go food shopping for your British Shorthair, check the ingredients list and make sure there are no sources of vegetable proteins, such as:

Knowing what your kitty should eat and what they should avoid will help you pick the best option for your furry friend.

Animal fat

Animal fat in high-quality cat jelly or gravy meals is an essential source of fatty acids necessary for:

  • Cell structure
  • Normal organ function
  • Inflammatory response regulation
  • Skin and coat health

It also gives food a taste that cats go wild for and is a secondary source of energy.

What's the right balance?

For your British Shorthair to stay at a healthy weight, the food you choose should contain these three nutrient groups in the following ratio:


Recommended percentage

Animal protein

At least 50%

Animal fat

Up to 20%


Less than 3%

Can Untamed keep your British Shorthair slim and healthy?

Yummy! It’s as delicious as they promised. 

Image (c) Untamed

If your British Shorthair is prone to weight gain and suffers from food allergies that cause them breathing difficulties, Untamed is the solution you've been looking for!

We know that cats can only thrive if fed meals resembling their natural eating habits, so we created tailor-made recipes to cater to felines' nutritional needs. Every Untamed tin is:

  1. Full of animal protein—Whether you choose Full-on Fishy, Chocka Chicken, or Tuck-In Tuna dishes, your kitty will get a meal that contains twice as much protein as most other commercial products. Your British Shorthair will benefit from nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and energy that only meat and fish can provide
  2. Allergen-free—We don't use any known allergens, and we have created single protein meals—Tuck-In Tuna in Jelly and Chocka Chicken in Jelly—for particularly sensitive kitties
  3. Vet-formulated—Vets have fine-tuned our homemade recipes to ensure your cat gets the healthiest food possible, whether they are a kitten, adult, neutered male, pregnant queen, or senior

With Untamed, your cat will get top-quality food without compromising on the taste. Our dishes are fussy cat-approved, so even those who usually turn their noses up at the sight of wet food can't resist the Untamed flavours.

We are as committed to keeping the planet clean as we are to keeping felines healthy and happy, so we:

  1. Collaborate with sustainable, cruelty-free suppliers
  2. Make sure our packaging is fully recyclable
  3. Run a carbon-neutral business

Try Untamed today, and see your British Shorthair thrive!

Getting Untamed for your British Shorthair

Three steps are all it takes to get an Untamed packet right at your doorstep:

  1. Tell us about your British Shorthair
  2. Design a meal plan for your kitty
  3. Place your order

The starter pack will arrive in a day, and your feline companion can start tasting the meals you have chosen. When they select their faves, we can keep you stocked up with regular monthly deliveries.

According to the feedback we received from cat parents who have switched their cats to Untamed, you can expect the following results:


The Untamed effect

After a week

  • Tidier litter tray
  • Normal energy levels
  • Better mood

After two months

Within four months


  • Natural weight management
  • No allergic reactions
  • Fewer ailments