This cobby, muscular cat is heavy and well-built, with stocky limbs and rounded features. Classified as a large cat, British Shorthairs grow fairly rapidly during the first few months of their lives.
By the time they reach 12 months of age, they will have attained much of their full adult weight. They are not completely grown until they’re at least three years old, with some individuals taking five years to reach their full size.
In this article, we’ll be talking about nutrition and healthy weights for British Shorthair cats and kittens. Find out the best foods for your new kitten as she grows up, how much your kitten should weigh at every month in the first year of life — and how you can protect your mature British Shorthair from weight problems in later life. Let’s start from the beginning.
Feeding your British Shorthair Kitten – Often and Small
British Shorthair kittens require plenty of nourishment. Good nutrition is important at any age but these early months are vital for your cat’s development. They are growing rapidly and tend to be fairly energetic; you don’t have to worry about weight gain at this stage (in all my year as a cat owner and British Shorthair fan, I have never once seen an overweight kitten). It’s far more important to focus on ensuring that your kitten receives all the nutrients and calories needed for a good start in life.
Choose your kitten’s food with care and be prepared to spend a bit more for a quality brand. Under no circumstances should you give your kitten food intended for dogs or humans. Dog food is formulated quite differently to cat food as dogs are more omnivorous and require different nutrients. Human food may be actively toxic; some foods, such as onions or garlic, can even kill a cat.
While some human foods are quite safe in terms of toxicity, I would still avoid giving them to your kitten. Later in life, you will have to start controlling your pet’s food intake to promote good health; if you’ve got her used to snacking from your plate, you’ll have an uphill battle in getting her to stop.
I would caution against giving your British Shorthair kitten milk or milk products such as yoghurt or cheese. The image of a kitten enjoying a saucer of milk may be picturesque but the reality is less charming. After weaning, a kitten loses the ability to properly digest milk and becomes lactose intolerant. Milk or foods containing milk can cause stomach discomfort, diarrhoea and vomiting. This is quite bad enough in an adult cat but it’s even worse for a kitten.
Stomach upsets in kittens can be quite deleterious as they cause rapid dehydration. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who’s actually lost a kitten through giving them milk but it remains a distinct possibility. Give your kitten water to drink instead.
You should feed your new British Shorthair kitten several times throughout the day. Kittens need small meals because their bodies can’t hold large amounts of food. When my own British Shorthair cats were kittens I gave them a pouch of wet food per day, divided into four or five portions with one quarter or one-fifth of a pouch per meal.
Resist the temptation to leave large portions of food out, especially if you live in a warm climate. Wet food can become rancid. Eating this rancid food may cause stomach issues, which can be very dangerous in small kittens. Instead, place a small amount of wet food on a ceramic dish, four or five times a day. (Do not use plastic as this material scratches easily; scratched plastic is a breeding ground for germs.
Some kittens are okay with metal bowls but these can make food and water taste odd to cats. A ceramic dish, free from chips or cracks, is a much better option.) Clean the dish out when the kitten is finished eating. You should also provide a ceramic bowl of freshwater; clean the dish and change the water at least twice a day.
British Shorthair Weight Chart
Choosing food for kittens and cats… wet, wet, wet!
The question of wet versus dry food can be rather a vexed one. Dry food is a poor choice for kittens as it is harder for them to eat and tends to cause dehydration. Some recommend dry food as a way of preventing dental issues; I prefer to brush my cats’ teeth regularly, which will have much the same result.
Cats, in general, tend not to drink enough fluid to compensate for dry food and this can cause problems with their kidneys and urinary tracts. This effect is more pronounced in young kittens because their bodies are smaller and their organs not fully developed. For this reason, I’d recommend a premium brand of wet food like Fancy Feast
There are many specialist kitten foods on the market. These claim to contain a balance of protein, fats, fibre and nutrients that are specifically tailored to a kitten’s dietary requirements. I have to say, I am not entirely convinced by the manufacturers’ claims. In the wild, a feral kitten would graduate from milk to animal prey without any intermediate steps. By the time you acquire your kitten, she will be fully weaned and eating solid food. For this reason, I simply feed kittens the same premium food I would give an adult cat.
Initially, I would mash the chunks up a little smaller with the tines of a fork to make the food easier to eat. If you do decide to buy kitten food, though, I don’t foresee any risks. It will be perfectly adequate; I’m just not convinced it merits the price markup.
Food Ingredients – Read the labels
Choosing the right ingredients is very important for your kitten’s growth. For this reason, you should only buy cat foods that list all the ingredients by name. In particular, the manufacturer should detail what kind of meat is actually used. A cat food labelled “duck flavour” might be made of something else entirely, with only small amounts of actual duck.
Vegetable ingredients are something of a scam. Many manufacturers heavily promote the presence of vegetable ingredients such as whole grains, peas, carrots and so on in their food as if these were something your cat actually needed. In point of fact, they aren’t. A feral cat living away from humans will seldom eat anything with a vegetable component unless it’s the stomach contents of a herbivorous prey animal.
While these ingredients aren’t dangerous in the strictest sense, they’re not particularly healthy either. A cat is not a dog — her gut is shorter and she simply can’t digest vegetable material properly. All vegetable ingredients do is bulk out the more expensive meat ingredients and allow manufacturers to benefit from additional profit.
Leafy greens and carrots aren’t too bad but you don’t need to seek out foods with a vegetable element — your cat will be as healthy or healthier without them.
Grains should be omitted from your cat’s diet as they provide no real benefit beyond empty calories. This won’t be much of a problem in the first year of your British Shorthair’s life, as their kittenishly high activity level and rapid growth will make short work of any additional energy. Once your cat reaches maturity, however, the extra calories can contribute to excess weight gain. It’s best not to give these foods to your kitten.
They don’t contribute anything that your kitten needs to grow and really don’t amount to much more than feline junk food. In addition, the young cat may become accustomed to the flavour; she may then be reluctant to switch to a grain-free formula later on.
For preference, I like to give my cats a rabbit or poultry. Until someone releases a rat or vole-based cat food, these are the closest thing to the small wild animals that a feral cat would prey upon. The nutritional profile is closer and my cats certainly seem to enjoy this kind of food more. I choose quality brands with transparent ingredient labelling so that I know exactly what my cats are getting.
Raw or Cooked?
There’s a lot of debate over raw versus cooked food for kittens and cats. Raw food proponents argue that conventional cat food is heavily processed and contains artificial ingredients, while raw foods are closer to what the cat might eat in nature. They point out that cooking destroys certain nutrients that are vital for a cat’s wellbeing.
Opponents argue that raw meat can carry parasites, viruses, fungal spores and bacteria, while packaged cat food is heat-treated to remove such pathogens. The missing nutrients are supplied through supplementation of the food with vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Personally, I avoid offering raw food as I’m concerned about food poisoning and parasites; most vets I’ve spoken to say that it’s not a great idea. That said, I know some raw feeders who have absolutely no issues and wonderfully healthy cats. Raw feeding is something of a time-sink, as I understand it — there’s a lot more preparation involved — but some people seem to get on all right.
British Shorthair Weight at Three Months
This is the age at which you’ll probably meet your British Shorthair. A quality breeder will keep new kittens with their mother for at least 12 weeks, with some breeders preferring not to separate kittens before 16 weeks. As well as permitting the kittens to be weaned from their mother’s milk and onto solid food, this allows plenty of time for the kittens to be socialised and develop some confidence. By the age of 12 weeks, your kitten should weigh at least 1.4 kilograms (3 lbs 2 oz) and can easily weigh as much as 1.8 kg. Tom kittens may already be a shade heavier than their sisters.
British Shorthair Weight at Four Months
For the first few months of their lives, you can expect a British Shorthair kitten to gain between 500g to 750g per month (roughly one pound), with boys growing somewhat faster than girls. At this age, your kitten should have grown quite a bit. If your British Shorthair is much under 1.86kg at 16 weeks, check in with your vet as there may be a health problem that needs your attention. Some 16-week-old kittens of this breed weigh as much as 2.27 kg (5 lbs).
Continue feeding your kitten several times a day, ensuring that the food you provide is fresh and of good quality. Remember to keep feeding and water bowls very clean.
British Shorthair Weight At Five Months
At five months old your kitten should weigh between 2.3 kg (just a little over 5 lbs) and
2.7 kg (6 lbs). Male cats will tend to be at the heavier end of the spectrum. I wouldn’t worry overmuch if your kitten is a little heavier than the stated upper weight, as kittens do sometimes have growth spurts. It’s been my experience that the British Shorthair’s growth-rate is fairly steady but some other owners report quite erratic progress.
British Shorthair Weight At Six Months
At six months you can probably switch to less frequent feedings. Three times a day should be sufficient. Don’t stint if your kitten asks for more, however — at this age, a British Shorthair cat is still growing quite rapidly and needs plenty of food. The dimorphism of the breed is more obvious at this point, with male kittens significantly larger than female siblings of the same age. Your British Shorthair should weigh around 2.5 kg, although a male cat could easily weigh more and a female cat rather less.
British Shorthair Weight At Seven Months
Your kitten is starting to look more grown up by this time. Some British Shorthairs start to develop a gangly look around this age. Their bones have lengthened but their musculature isn’t catching up. Growth may appear to slow down a bit; although your British Shorthair is still gaining weight, it’s less obvious because it represents a smaller proportion of your pet’s overall weight. Sizes can vary quite a bit. At seven months, I would expect to see a minimum weight of around 2.75 kg (just over 6 lbs), although this is an estimate.
British Shorthair Weight At Eight Months
Your cat should have continued to gain weight, putting on roughly 500g to 750g over the past month. Some cats will gain more, some will gain less. Growth may slow down somewhat and there are typically some variations in the progress of individual cats. Continue to feed your cat a healthy diet, offering premium food two to three times a day. If your British Shorthair hasn’t yet attained 2.75 kg, especially if you have a male cat, you might want to increase the amount of food you’re providing. It’s still okay to offer a quick snack now and then if your cat seems hungry.
British Shorthair Weight At Nine Months
Many male British Shorthairs will still be enduring their adolescent “awkward age” at nine months. Your young chap is very likely to be lanky and slim, possibly with disproportionately long legs. As long as he’s still gaining weight you probably don’t need to worry. If you’re concerned, check his ribs by running your hands over his flanks. You should just be able to feel his ribs under his thick fur. They should not be protruding sharply through his flesh, however.
Female British Shorthairs can go through the same lanky stage but it’s far less pronounced. Check in with your vet if your young British Shorthair doesn’t seem to be thriving. If your cat doesn’t seem to be eating well, try changing the food you offer.
I would expect a male British Shorthair to weigh upwards of 3 kg, with 3.5 kg being closer to the average. Your tom maybe a touch heavier. If you have a female Shorthair, she may be a little under 3 kg.
British Shorthair Weight At 10 Months
By this age, kittens may have attained much of their adult length and height but won’t have all the classic British Shorthair features that come with maturity. Many cats (although by no means all) are starting to bulk up a little as their muscle growth catches up with their skeletal development.
Growth may slow down quite a lot, although once again this depends on the individual. Weights can vary dramatically but I would expect a male cat to weigh upwards of 3.5 kg and a female cat upwards of 2.75 kg. By this age, your British Shorthair should have seen the vet once or twice and any health issues will have been picked up; if you have concerns about your cat’s growth, you can ask about diet and nutrition.
British Shorthair Weight At 11 Months
Your British Shorthair is nearly grown-up. Kittenhood is almost over and your cat will be fast approaching maturity. At this age, a male British Shorthair will probably be approaching a weight of 4 kg, while females may be in the region of 3 kg. It’s common for British Shorthairs to get heavier than this; I might be slightly concerned if a cat was much smaller than this but not terribly worried as long as my vet was happy.
British Shorthair Weight At One Year
At one year, most British Shorthairs have reached most of their adult weight. Some may be slow bloomers so don’t worry too much if your cat still seems small. As a rough estimate, your male British Shorthair may have topped the 4 kg mark and your female may have gone over 3 kg. As I say, though, not all cats will be there yet.
After the age of 12 months, your British Shorthair kitten is now a full-blown cat and will probably have attained much of their adult stature. This breed doesn’t stop growing until they’re at least three years old, however. Some may carry on getting larger until they’re 5, although growth between the ages of three and five will be much, much slower than in the first year of life.
British Shorthair Weight At Three Years
At three years old your British Shorthair probably isn’t going to get much larger. Some slow growth may take place over the next couple of years but the major changes in stature are complete. At this age, I would expect a male British Shorthair to have reached at least 4.1 kg and females should be over 3.2 kg. Your cat may well be much heavier than this. The healthy weight range for male British Shorthair tops out at 7.7 kg (17 lbs) while females should not be more than 5.4 kg (12 lbs). In the following section, we’ll discuss ways you can help your pet maintain a healthy weight and enjoy a long and happy life.
Your Mature British Shorthair and Weight Gain
During the first year, you really don’t need to worry about your British Shorthair’s weight. It’s far, far more important to ensure adequate nutrition for your growing kitten. After that first year, you probably won’t immediately see any degree of problem weight gain as long as you’re feeding your cat sensibly.
Once your cat has reached the ripe old age of three, however, you may need to pay extra attention to diet and exercise. It’s true that this breed is supposed to be cobby — a chunky, muscular cat with a large, rounded physique rather than a dainty little feline. It’s also true that fatter cats are often adorable to look at.
Unfortunately, though, the extra level of cuteness isn’t worth the risk to your pet’s wellbeing. There’s a difference between “cobby” and “severely overweight”. Be aware of the healthy weights for these cats and keep an eye on your British Shorthair’s development. Keep in mind the fact that your female cat has a very different healthy weight range than her brother and make sure you’re taking that into consideration when determining whether her weight is in the safe zone or not.
Talking to your Vet
I tend to find that vets can be a bit breed-ignorant when it comes to British Shorthairs and their weight; these cats are naturally bigger and heavier than a standard moggy and their size should not be an issue until they go over the upper limit for their breed.
If your vet constantly whips out a standard cat size chart and asserts that your 7 kg adult British Shorthair is in danger of becoming overweight, you might want to look around for another practice. It’s worth going the extra mile to find someone who is familiar with the breed and understands that their healthy weight range extends well beyond what would be acceptable in the average domestic kitty.
There is very little that’s average about a British Shorthair, including their size. Your vet should regard 7.7 kg as a reasonable upper weight for a male British Shorthair and 5.4 kg as acceptable in a female. That said, if your cat has gone over these upper limits and your vet comments on it, you should listen and ask for advice on controlling your cat’s weight.
Exercise and your British Shorthair
One way to help keep your British Shorthair from tipping over that 7.7 kg mark is to ensure that your cat gets plenty of exercises. This may be easier said than done as the British Shorthair becomes rather averse to additional activity in maturity. The trick is to find activities that your cat will enjoy more than snoozing on the back of the sofa.
First of all, remember that this breed has an absolutely ferocious prey drive. This is hardly surprising when you consider the British Shorthair’s origins. They’re descended from Egyptian cats brought over by the Romans for the express purpose of vermin control, with an admixture of European Wildcat (also noted for their fearsome hunting skills). The offspring of these two celebrated predators were then kept on as working cats, with generation after generation bred specifically for their ability to hunt.
Even though the British Shorthair has been bred for other characteristics since the early days of the pedigree, they still retain the instinct to chase and pounce. You can exploit this drive as part of your cat’s exercise regime.
Laser Cat Toys
There’s some dispute over the safety of laser pointers as a cat toy; however, I have never known anyone who claimed that their cat had been harmed by a low-power laser. Getting your British Shorthair to chase the red dot around can burn off a lot of calories, as well as helping to reduce blood pressure and keep your kitty’s lungs in good shape. You can find a great choice of Laser Toys at Chewy.
Chasers & Teasers
Other favourites of mine include those fishing-rod teaser toys. As the name suggests, they consist of a flexible, extendable pole with a long nylon string on the end that holds a bundle of feathers, a small stuffed toy or a bell. My cats find this absolutely irresistible and will jump up to chase it no matter how lazy they seemed to be feeling a moment earlier.
In fact, they’re so fond of it that I’m frequently tired out well before they’ve finished playing. Providing an exciting cat tree to climb around on and scratching posts to tear up will also evoke a more active side of your British Shorthair’s nature. Get one today form this store.
I would advise against allowing your British Shorthair to roam freely outside. This breed is eminently trainable, however, and generally takes quite well to being walked on a harness and lead. This can be a useful way to give your cat some exercise and fresh air, without exposing her to the risks of being an outdoor cat.
Feeding your Mature British Shorthair
It can be tough to restrict your pet’s food. We all love our cats and want to see them happy. Unfortunately, with this breed, there’s really no way around the fact that you’re going to have to feed them less than they might like.
First of all, once they’ve grown up you cannot really free-feed this breed of cat. If they have their druthers, they will overeat. You need to control their portions and be very mindful of how many treats you hand out. Keep treats modest and restrict them to situations where your cat needs a reward. Instead of food treats, distract your British Shorthair with toys, games and fun activities.
There are a few tricks that can help your British Shorthair feel satisfied with less food. Since your cat is now fully grown, you can replace that ceramic water-dish with a kitty drinking fountain. I like the pump-driven kind that produces a stream of free-flowing water. Drinking more water will help your cat feel satiated and will also protect against renal and UT issues. As well as the aforementioned issues with dry food, it seems to be less satiating than wet food from a can or a pouch. Dividing the same amount of food up into smaller portions can fool your cat into thinking she’s had more to eat than she really has.
One of my favourite British Shorthair life-hacks is the treat toy. These are puzzles and games that reward the cat with a little piece of dry kibble when successfully manipulated. You can buy them from any pet supply shop but it’s very easy to make your own. Take an empty fizzy drink bottle and punch holes in the sides, then place a few pieces of kibble in the bottle. The holes should be large enough that the kibble can fall out but small enough that your cat will need to roll the bottle around to make the food drop out. This kind of toy is a double whammy — it satisfies your cat’s desire for food while at the same time providing some much-needed exercise.