High Blood Pressure In Cats: How to Stop It In Its Tracks

high blood pressure in cats

It’s no secret the silent killer among humans is heart disease, especially when it comes to matters of high blood pressure.  Millions of individuals across the United States suffer from hypertension, yet many are not even aware of it. It has earned the nickname “silent killer” because it can be present for an appreciable amount of time before symptoms arise.  High blood pressure in cats is dangerous, too, especially for older cats.

According to petsbest.com, high blood pressure in cats is typically discovered as a complication from another underlying medical issue. It is often referred to as secondary hypertension.

The most common causes are chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism.  High blood pressure in cats without an existing underlying disease is rare and not as easily understood.

Effects of High Blood Pressure In Cats

High blood pressure in cats can affect the body in numerous ways:

  • Bleeding into the eyes
  • Retinal changes such as swelling and retinal detachment, which can lead to permanent blindness
  • Bleeding into the brain and nervous system, which can cause unusual behavior, an odd or wobbly gait, dementia, seizures and even coma.

The heart and kidneys can also become affected. The heart has to work harder to pump blood due to the thickening of the muscles in the heart chambers. Because of this, congestive heart failure is a concern.

Cats with high blood pressure may also have problems breathing and appear lethargic.  The kidneys can also begin to fail, and is especially concerning in cats with kidney disease, as hypertension can aggravate the disease.

How To Check Your Cat’s Blood Pressure

How do you check a cat’s blood pressure?  The method is similar to that used for humans.  An inflatable cuff is placed around one of the legs or the tail.  It is important to take a minimum of three to five readings and then average those.

In fact, blood pressure tests should be seen as a part of routine care screenings for older cats, as well as those cats who suffer from chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and heart disease.

Treatment

In treating high blood pressure in cats, it is advisable to treat the primary disease first, as this will often resolve the hypertension on its own. However, when a cat presents with retinal detachment or blindness, the high blood pressure issue should be addressed first. If blindness is caught within two to three days, it is possible to reattach the retinas and restore vision.

And always remember that routine wellness checks are essential in preventing serious illnesses, especially in the aging cat.  If you have been putting off that wellness exam for your cat, be sure to get one scheduled right away.  And for the record, be sure to check your blood pressure, too. Your cat needs you around to keep him company!!!

Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.

19 Responses to "High Blood Pressure In Cats: How to Stop It In Its Tracks"

  1. Thanks for such an informative read. I’m not familiar with high blood pressure in cats although 3 of mine died of kidney related issues. I wonder now if any of them had high blood pressure, but the vet never mentioned it in any of their regular check ups. I also never saw any of the symptoms mentioned. It is a great reminder of the importance of regular vet visits, particularly in aging pets.

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    1. Definitely! Most people here don’t recall their cat’s blood pressure routinely being checked. Seems odd, considering that’s one of the things routinely checked when we go to the doctor.

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  2. Years ago we had a kitty who had high blood pressure as a result of a thyroid issue. There was also a long-term kitty at the shelter where I volunteer who had various heart issues as well as high blood pressure. I had no idea about he effects on the eyes and brain and nervous system.

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    1. Sometimes treating one will cause another. I know that can often happen with thyroid trouble and kidney disease. Treating the thyroid can mess up the kidneys. The thyroid is a tricky little bugger!

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  3. Yikes! I had never really thought of high blood pressure as being an issues for cats. Scary how it can cause blindness. I’ll be sure to have my vet check my cats’ blood pressures on their next visit. I’ve never seen them do it before. Thanks for this informative post!

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    1. I said this to another person that commented, wonder why vets don’t routinely check it like doctors do ours during check-ups. Will be interesting to find out the answer, I’m really curious, because I don’t recall vets checking my cat’s either

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  4. Thank you for sharing this important information. I lost a cat twelve years ago to chronic kidney failure and she had secondary hypertension. I don’t remember any of her wellness exams including a high blood pressure test with a cuff so I’m not sure if the high blood pressure preceded the kidney failure or the other way around.

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  5. High blood pressure is just as sneaky in cats as it is in humans. When we found out about my angel kitty, Cinco’s, cancer last year, his blood pressure was one of the biggest clues. The veterinarian could see blood spots on his retinas and she knew right away that things were bad. Getting your cat’s blood pressure checked routinely can help to save their life!

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  6. I don’t think my vet has ever checked my cat’s blood pressure. I’ll have to ask her about that, especially since he is a senior cat. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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