High Blood Pressure in Cats – Feline Hypertension – Pet tip 238
Although any cat can suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension) it is most commonly seen in middle aged or senior cats. In case we have forgotten what blood pressure means, blood pressure refers to the force (pressure) of circulating blood against the walls of blood vessels; the higher the force, the greater the amount of stress that’s put on the heart to move the blood. This can cause the heart muscles to enlarge, get thicker, and weaken thereby reducing life expectancy. It’s one of the vital signs used to measure the overall health of many animals including humans.
When it comes to high blood pressure in cats, the trick is to find out what is causing the hypertension as hypertension without an underlying disease is fairly rare. The most common diseases associated with feline hypertension are kidney disease and hyperthyroidism (the overproduction of the thyroid hormone). Both diabetic and obese cats seem to be at a higher risk for developing hypertension.
Signs that your cat may have hypertension related to kidney disease include weight loss, lethargy, increased urination, increased thirst and vomiting. Signs that your cat may have high blood pressure related to hyperthyroidism include weight loss, rapid heart rate, increased thirst, increased urination, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs that your cat may have primary hypertension (hypertension not related to a particular underlying disease) may include eye damage or blindness, fainting and seizures. Any of these symptoms in and of themselves require a veterinary visit but the combination of these symptoms makes this vet visit extremely important.
Diagnosing a cat suspected of having high blood pressure requires the regular monitoring of the cat’s blood pressure. This is done through the use of a feline sphygmomanometer (blood pressure measurement device with an inflatable cuff that wraps around the middle of your cat’s leg) and your vet should have one. X-rays, blood tests, urinalysis, thyroid testing and ultrasound may also be used to help pinpoint the possible causes of any particular cat’s hypertension. Most cases of feline hypertension are treated with oral medication (common drug types include diuretics, beta-blockers and Ace inhibitors) however in more serious cases intravenous medication may be required.
Once a cat is diagnosed with high blood pressure it will need to be reexamined regularly to confirm that the treatment is working and that the hypertension is not getting worse. Since veterinary medicine hasn’t figured out a way to prevent hyperthyroidism or kidney disease, there is also no way to prevent the high blood pressure related to these diseases. That said, early detection, treatment and follow-ups will reduce the damage that is caused by feline high blood pressure so regular veterinary check-ups are extremely important.