Much like humans, cats can suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure). Keep reading to find out the potential causes, signs to look out for, and treatment.
What is normal blood pressure in cats?
A normal blood pressure range for cats is in the 120-140 mmHg range. Factors such as stress can temporarily elevate the blood pressure above this range, but a consistently high reading is abnormal.
Cats can be hypertensive at any age, but the risk increases as they get older. Approximately one in five cats over the age of 9 have an abnormally high blood pressure, and these cats are particularly at risk of secondary damage to the ‘target organs’: the eyes, brain, kidneys and heart.
Some diseases further increase the risk of hypertension, most commonly Hyperthyroidism and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure in cats?
It is essential to understand that the clinical signs of hypertension only become obvious once the condition is severe, and causing target organ damage. Many hypertensive cats have no apparent symptoms at first, so the best time to intervene is early in the disease process. However, cats at any stage in the disease will benefit from diagnosis and treatment, and will experience an improved quality of life when the condition is under control.
Clinical signs include:
- Behavioural changes eg. vocalisation
- Dilated pupils or abnormal eye appearance
- Heart murmurs
If your cat is behaving strangely in a way that is out of character or has any of the above symptoms, you should see your local vet as soon as possible. Your vet may run several blood pressure tests using an inflatable cuff - similar to that used on humans - around the paw or tail.
Treating high blood pressure in cats
Most hypertensive cats require lifelong treatment.
Your cat’s blood pressure will need to be monitored regularly, and lab tests may be required to measure their response to the medication.
Blood pressure checks with Medivet Healthcare Plan
As your cat gets older, they’re much more likely to experience issues with their blood pressure. That’s why our Medivet Healthcare Plan offers twice-yearly blood pressure checks as a bolt on for cats on the senior plan. This helps identify any underlying issues as soon as possible, keeping your cat happy and healthy for years to come.
Our bespoke plans also include:
- Annual booster vaccinations
- Complete flea, worm and tickprotection for the year
- A nose-to-tail health checkevery six months
Speak to your local Medivet practice to find out the availability of a Medivet Healthcare Plan that suits you and your cat.
The symptoms of high blood pressure in cats include behavioural changes, seizures, disorientation, blindness, weakness, heart murmurs, and nosebleeds. Some symptoms could be more prevalent than others but if you notice any of these changes, it’s important to get your cat to the vet immediately.
You can measure your cat’s blood pressure by using a cuff device which can be applied to the leg or tail. Wrap the inflatable cuff around a limb or tail, press the button and allow it to inflate, once the measurement is made, it will deflate, and you can take the cuff off your cat.
A normal blood pressure range for cats is in the 120-130 mmHg range. If you get a reading outside of this, please consult your vet immediately.
You could try lowering the amount of sodium in your cat’s diet, and specific diets which contain lower amounts of sodium will be available from your vet. You should also avoid feeding your cat any other food which may contain additional sodium, such as tuna in brine or too many cat treats.
Just like in humans, there may be no cause of low blood pressure in cats. However, common causes of low blood pressure can include trauma or shock, excessive blood loss, medication side effects, kidney problems or kidney failure, hormonal imbalance, heart disease, anaphylactic shock, or dehydration.