If your cat has been diagnosed with a medical condition like high blood pressure, it can be a worrying time. Of course the best place to get advice and support is your veterinary practice, but talking to other pet owners can also be a source of reassurance. So, read on for our top tips and find out about the experiences of people who have owned cats suffering from high blood pressure.
1. Monitor your cat for any changes in behaviour or other abnormal signs
Just as in people, there are often no visible signs of high blood pressure, so the disease may remain undiagnosed for prolonged periods of time. However, there may be subtle clues that all is not right, which can be easy to dismiss as normal age-related changes. For example, cats with high blood pressure may sleep more, or they may be more vocal. Changes in vision are common too.
“I first knew that something wasn’t right when Zippy hid in the back of the wardrobe. When I coaxed him out, that was when I noticed his left eye was completely blood shot. I took him to the vets where he was diagnosed with high blood pressure.”
2. Book your cat in for regular blood pressure checks
Measuring blood pressure is easy, fast and pain free. It is far better to diagnose high blood pressure before signs become apparent, because high blood pressure can do irreversible damage to important organs including the brain, eyes, kidneys and heart. That’s why Tamara, owner of Hubertus says…
“…at least annually, check your cat’s blood pressure to avoid surprises or severe damage. ”
3. Ask for a blood pressure check if your cat has problems with their vision
Did you know that the eye is one of the organs most sensitive to damage from high blood pressure? Of the one in five cats over the age of nine that suffer from hypertension, 50 percent will have changes in their eyes due to high blood pressure.1
Here is Ramona’s story about her cat, Tomita:
“When Tomita lost his sight, he had an eye check with an ophthalmologist and was diagnosed with hypertension.” After starting a course of medication prescribed by the vet, “His blood pressure has been in the normal range and his sight came back completely. I would advise owners to insist for a blood pressure check with a vet on general check-ups….even more so for senior cats, just like for senior humans.”
4. Ask for a blood pressure check if your cat has chronic kidney disease
High blood pressure in cats is usually what is known as secondary hypertension, in other words it occurs secondary to another underlying cause. Chronic kidney disease, along with an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) have been identified as the most common predisposing factors.
“Merlin was a CKD [chronic kidney disease] kitty. During a normal visit, his blood pressure was high. I had to bring him in for several re-checks… and he was placed on blood pressure meds. CKD is an overwhelming disease… but being proactive and dealing with each problem is imperative for your cat’s health.”
5. Make sure your cat gets their medication regularly
High blood pressure in cats can be successfully controlled with medication and this will have a positive impact on your cat’s quality of life as well as reducing the likelihood of irreversible damage to vital organs. Most cats with high blood pressure, will need lifelong treatment to control the condition, so back to Merlin’s owner for our last top tip:
“Please ensure they are given their medication every day.”
Tablets that are palatable or flavoured to encourage your cat to take their medication voluntarily are always a winner. If you need more tips on giving medication to a reluctant feline, why not head over to our blog, How to give your cat a tablet.
- ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Hypertension in Cats; JFMS, 2017