Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition in humans and is now recognized as a common condition in cats. It is a manageable condition, however if it is left untreated it can be a severe threat to the cat’s health.
What is feline hypertension?
Hypertension refers to the blood pressure of the cat being continually higher than normal. A systolic blood pressure that is above 160 mm Hg puts a cat in the hypertension range. It is best to check your cat’s blood pressure during routine visits to the vet so that any changes can be detected.
In the majority of cases of elevated blood pressure in cats, it is a secondary disease that can be linked to an underlying disease. Usually kidney disease, hyperthyroidism or diabetes are the primary causes.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure in cats?
As with many other diseases, cats often give no early warning signs of hypertension until their condition becomes severe. If the cat’s elevated blood pressure is due to underlying renal failure or hyperthyroidism, the symptoms of those diseases will be what the cat exhibits and include:
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Dull coat
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If elevated blood pressure goes unchecked and continues for a long time, the cat might experience burst blood vessels in the eye and the retina detaching, leading to sudden blindness. Your cat might also experience disorientation, difficulty walking and breathing, heart murmurs and seizures.
How is high blood pressure in cats treated?
If your cat is found to have hyperthyroidism, first your vet will diagnose and address the underlying cause such as renal failure. Your vet might prescribe medicine which works to reduce the resistance to blood flow, such as calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Often diuretics are also given to reduce the volume of fluid in the body, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Another method of treating high blood pressure is through diet. The vet might advise a low sodium diet. Proper nutrition and a balanced diet including enough vitamin C and E are important for lowering blood pressure. If your cat suffers from obesity, the vet will also suggest a weight loss diet and increased exercise.
The vet will monitor that cat’s blood pressure to make sure that it is improving and does not drop too low. If high blood pressure is detected early enough, these treatments are very effective and it will be possible to prevent future complications. If the condition is managed well, your cat can live a long and healthy life.