Feline hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, commonly affects cats aged seven years or older. As your cat ages, the risk of developing hypertension increases.
Hypertension can often go undetected until it is too late; that is why it is important to spot the signs early, avoiding long-term damage to your cat’s health and wellbeing.
What are the main causes of feline hypertension?
Feline hypertension is most commonly secondary to another disease process such as:
- chronic kidney disease
- overactive thyroid
- heart disease.
Primary hypertension (without another cause) is also seen but less commonly than in people.
What is Target Organ Damage (TOD)?
If not detected early, hypertension can cause irreversible damage to key organs such as the eyes, heart, brain and kidneys.
- eyes – high blood pressure can result in bleeding into the eyes and retinal changes such as haemorrhage, swelling and detachment leading to long term damage to vision and sometimes permanent blindness
- kidneys – high blood pressure directly affects the kidneys and can cause or worsen kidney failure
- central nervous system – bleeding in the brain can lead to seizures, dementia and wobbly movements
- heart – with high blood pressure, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood around the body. This can lead to heart failure as there is increased pressure placed on the heart.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
Symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- decrease in activity
- circling behaviour
- drinking more fluids than usual
- weight loss
- urinating indoors
- hiding away or difference in overall behaviours
- vomiting (if the kidneys are also affected)
- seizures (if hypertension is left untreated)
- bleeding in the eyes or blindness
How can I protect my cat?
As a preventative measure, we recommend that you book a blood pressure check once a year when your cat reaches seven years old. For older cats, a blood pressure check should be checked as directed by your vet.
How do we check for high blood pressure?
A blood pressure check can be conducted quickly and painlessly, using an inflatable cuff around your cat’s tail or leg.
How do we treat hypertension?
If your cat is diagnosed with hypertension, medication may need to be taken daily for the rest of your cat’s life. That’s why it is so important to spot the signs early and include regular blood pressure check-ups as part of your cat’s routine preventative healthcare.
What should you do next?
If your cat is aged seven years or older, we recommend that you book them in for a blood pressure screening once every year.