Hypertension In Cats

Hypertension In Cats

What Is Hypertension In Cats?

Hypertension in cats is a common disease seen in veterinary practice. Hypertension is the technical term for a condition in which a cat’s blood pressure is higher than normal, safe levels. 

As cats age, they have an increased risk of developing hypertension (primary hypertension). Additionally, hypertension in cats may also be a complication of other underlying medical conditions (secondary hypertension).

Chronic feline hypertension can lead to injuries that will often manifest at ‘target organs’ such as the heart, arteries, kidneys, eyes or the nervous system.

An important part of diagnosing hypertension is obtaining reliable and consistent blood pressure measurements. Various aspects, such as temperament, staff experience and method, have an effect on blood pressure ranges. Thus trained veterinary professionals are crucial to maximising the reliability of results.

Emergency Vet - THCV staff and cats

Hypertension In Cats

What is Primary Hypertension?

In rare cases, elevated blood pressure in older cats has no visible cause. This is known as primary hypertension. Although common in humans, primary hypertension is not often seen in cats. It is possible that some medications to cause a temporary rise in a cat’s blood pressure, but in a majority of cases, secondary hypertension is the cause of high blood pressure in our feline friends.

What is Secondary Hypertension?

Veterinarians frequently diagnose Secondary hypertension, which is a complication of other underlying medical condition and is more common than primary feline hypertension. The most common cause of secondary hypertension in cats is chronic kidney disease but other diseases can also lead to its development.

Such as conditions include: 

Cat Euthanasia - cat laying on porch
Cat Euthanasia - cat laying near window

Hypertension In Cats

What Are The Effects Of Hypertension In Cats?

Eyes: High blood pressure can cause bleeding into the eyes, swelling or even detachment. This can lead to reduced vision or even blindness.

Brain and Nervous System: Bleeding into the brain or nervous system can cause signs such as a change in behaviour, difficultly with balance, seizures, dementia and even coma.

Heart: Over time, high blood pressure can lead to the development of congestive heart failure due to a thickening of the tissues of the heart. Those cats affected may show signs of breathlessness and/or lethargy.

Kidneys: Over time, high blood pressure increases the risk of kidney failure. In cats with existing kidney disease, hypertension is likely to make the disease worse over time.

Hypertension In Cats

What Are Symptoms To Look Out For?

Early recognition of hypertension in senior cats is important as this helps minimise the damaging effects of high blood pressure on the organs. 

Your cat may not show any physical symptoms until the condition has become severe. The best indicator that something is wrong is a change in their behaviour, which is why it is always recommended to closely monitor your pets.

Here are some signs you should look out for:

pet vaccinations - vet staff and cat

Hypertension In Cats

Diagnosing High Blood Pressure In Cats

We recommend regular blood pressure checks for cats from 7 years of age.

Various techniques and equipment are available to measure blood pressure in cats. The test is similar to that used routinely in people, with an inflatable cuff placed around one of the legs or the base of the tail.  Measuring blood pressure only takes a few minutes, is completely pain-free and is extremely well tolerated by most cats.

As part of the health check, your vet may also perform an eye examination. In cats affected by hypertension there might be changes to the appearance of the blood vessels at the back of the eye and to the retina itself.  In more serious cases, the changes can be dramatic and include retinal detachment and bleeding into the eye.

cat clinic - grey cat on examination table
pet vaccinations - calico cat at vet office

Hypertension In Cats

How Is Hypertension in Cats Treated?

The treatment of hypertension in cats depends on the underlying cause of this condition. If a cat develops a serious complication related to hypertension like kidney failure or bleeding in the eye, there may be a need for hospitalization.

However, once an underlying condition is appropriately diagnosed, management with medication and nutrition are important in treating high blood pressure.

When hypertension is diagnosed, treatment of the condition has two aims:

It’s important to monitor the impact of treatment through regular blood pressure checks.

house call vet - thcv veterinarian

Hypertension In Cats

If you are concerned that your cat is showing signs of hypertension or is experiencing worrying symptoms, please give us a call on 1300 838 868

Our vets can come out for a House Call visit or we have clinics in Sunnybank and Kenmore.

We believe passionately in providing exceptional veterinary care and building lasting relationships with our patients and their owners.

We consult from 7 am to midnight 7 days a week so that we can always be there for you and your pet, no matter what level of care they need.

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