Keep your cat "feline" fine - High blood pressure in cats

Although your cat may seem to have little reason for stress or high blood pressure, feline hypertension is a serious yet common health threat to house cats. High blood pressure in cats can sometimes occur without any discernible cause; however, it is more typically a symptom of another disease. Hypertension can commonly occur in both kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. Obesity and genetic components can also contribute to the likelihood of a cat developing high blood pressure. No matter the cause, high blood pressure can cause significant harm to a cat if not treated promptly.

Symptoms of hypertension

If hypertension is not detected through a routine vet checkup, some of the symptoms can include:

  • Circling
  • Disorientation
  • Blindness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Vomiting

Unfortunately, high blood pressure often does not have any warning signs for owners to watch for. Because of this, it is important to take your cat to the vet regularly. Much like humans, senior cats are particularly vulnerable to hypertension.

Detecting hypertension

Blood pressure in cats is measured the same way as it is in humans. A small cuff is placed on either the cat's leg or tail and the reading is taken. Occasionally, a cat will have anxiety while at the vet. This can increase a blood pressure reading, resulting in a false positive. To help prevent this, try to keep your cat calm and still. The standards for cat blood pressure are:

  • 159/95 and below - Normal
  • 160/119 to 179/100 - Hypertension. Treatment should be administered
  • 180/120 and above - Severe hypertension - Immediate treatment should be administered

Treatment

Fortunately, hypertension is easily manageable if found and treated early. The first step to treatment is determining whether the high blood pressure is being caused by an underlying disease. Once determined, the underlying disease is treated.

Specific treatments for feline hypertension is similar to treatment in humans. In some cases, medication such as an ACE inhibitor and diuretic may be administered. Many vets will also recommend a low sodium diet for cats with high blood pressure. With early detection and routine vet care, the prognosis for managing feline hypertension is typically positive.

Unfortunately, your cat can't tell you when there's something wrong. Thankfully, your vet can. Routine vet visits are the best ways to prevent illness and ensure your cat is both healthy and happy for years to come.