High Blood pressure, or “hypertension”, is a common condition in cats over the age of about 7 years. It is often associated with other disease conditions common in aging cats such as Hyperthyroidism, Kidney disease and Heart disease. Approximately 13-20% of cats that develop hypertension have no underlying disease. They have “primary hypertension”.
Complications of Hypertension
Sudden blindness is a common complication of high blood pressure in cats. This blindness is caused by detachment of the retina in the back of the eye. This retinal detachment can be reversed if the high blood pressure if resolved quickly.
High blood pressure can also cause kidney disease and complicate heart disease.
Signs of Hypertension:
- Decreased Appetite
- Head pressing (headache?)
- Increase drinking and urination
- Sudden onset of paralysis (due to a blood clot to rear limbs)
- No signs in the early stages– this is the best time to start treatment!
All cats over the age of 7 years should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year
All cats with diseases that can cause high blood pressure, or be worsened by high blood pressure, should be checked every time they have a checkup– at least twice yearly!
Medication is available to treat hypertension. It is usually easily given and well accepted by cats. The FDA has recently approved, Semintra, in a convenient liquid form, to treat feline hypertension! It’s important to also treat any underlying conditions (thyroid disease, kidney disease, heart disease). Your cat may even be able to come off the blood pressure meds with treatment of the underlying condition!
After your cat starts medication, your veterinarian should monitor your cat’s blood pressure every 3-7 days until normal and stable, then every 3-6 months, depending on the underlying cause. Your vet will let you know your cat’s ideal monitoring schedule.
The prognosis for high blood pressure in cats is good to excellent! Your cat can live a normal life with medication and proper monitoring. You can learn to watch for subtle signs of recurrence of high blood pressure so you can help right away! Your kitty’s happiness can be restored with prompt blood pressure rechecks medication adjustments!
…“We had a kitty patient with “end stage” kidney failure and high blood pressure that we were able to keep happy, active and eating for over 2 years! ‘Tuxedo’s’ owners were so in-tune with his behaviors that they could tell when his blood pressure was elevated. They would bring him in right away for a BP check any time he was acting unusual- not following his regular routine. Every time, we were able to adjust his medications and make him feel like his “old self” again within hours! It was so rewarding!”… Dr Deb Bohnke