Kidney disease and high blood pressure (hypertension) often coexist in cats, leading to a vicious cycle of deteriorating kidney function and increasing blood pressure. Understanding the relationship between these two conditions is important to help break this cycle and manage both kidney disease and high blood pressure effectively…
1. High blood pressure is common in cats with kidney disease
Studies indicate that approximately 60 percent of cats with chronic renal failure, the most common form of kidney disease in cats, also develop high blood pressure.1 While the exact figure may vary, there is no doubt that kidney disease is one of the main causes of feline hypertension, emphasizing the importance of monitoring blood pressure in cats with kidney disease.
2. And kidney disease is common in cats with high blood pressure
Not only can kidney disease lead to high blood pressure, but high blood pressure can also cause kidney disease in cats and contribute to disease progression. Determining which condition came first can be challenging, since they may develop concurrently. However, it is crucial to address both issues to manage the overall health of affected cats.
3. Both kidney disease and high blood pressure can be ‘silent’ diseases
Detecting these conditions in their early stages is challenging as cats may not show noticeable signs until the diseases have significantly advanced. In fact it takes the loss of around two thirds to three quarters of the total functioning kidney tissue, before signs of chronic kidney failure become apparent.2 And when it comes to high blood pressure, more than 80 percent of cats present with sudden onset blindness,3 by which time irreversible damage to the eyes, and other important organs, has often been done.
Regular veterinary check-ups, including blood pressure measurements are essential for early diagnosis and treatment.
Blood pressure should be measured at least once a year in cats over seven years of age and twice a year in cats suffering from kidney disease.
4. Treating high blood pressure slows the progression of kidney disease in cats
The kidneys rely on normal blood pressure to effectively filter the blood. When blood pressure rises, the rate at which the kidneys filter waste increases. However, prolonged high blood pressure damages the delicate renal blood supply and results in excessive loss of proteins through the kidneys, accelerating kidney disease progression. By treating high blood pressure this vicious cycle is broken and the progression of kidney disease is slowed.
5. Treating high blood pressure improves quality of life
Although there is no cure for chronic kidney disease in cats, a tailored management plan can help to improve both quality of life and may also increase lifespan. Feeding a prescription diet formulated to support renal function, maintaining adequate fluid intake and managing high blood pressure, are some of the most important ways to support cats with kidney disease.
If your cat is over the age of seven, or has been diagnosed with chronic renal failure, it is crucial to talk to your vet about regular blood pressure checks. Early detection and intervention can make a significant impact on the management of these conditions ensuring your cat remains healthy and happy for as long as possible.
- Kobayashi, D.L., Peterson, M.E., Graves, T.K., Nichols, C.E. and Lesser, M. (1990), Hypertension in Cats With Chronic Renal Failure or Hyperthyroidism. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 4: 58-62
- iCatCare (2018) Chronic Kidney Disease
- Littman MP. (1994) Spontaneous systemic hypertension in 24 cats. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 8:79–86