Like people, cats can have high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, unlike people, there is usually an underlying disease process that is causing the high blood pressure.
Causes of Hypertension
The most likely causes of high blood pressure, or hypertension, in cats are kidney disease and an overactive thyroid gland. There are no specific indicators that your cat has a problem with his blood pressure, but you may notice some signs of disease such as increased thirst, vomiting or weight loss.
Blood pressure in cats is measured with a cuff around his leg. Your vet will also recommend blood and urine tests to identify what is causing his hypertension.
Untreated, hypertension in your cat can cause serious secondary conditions.
Blindness occurs as blood vessels in the back of the eye rupture. Your cat may also have a stroke because of increased pressure in the blood vessels in his brain.
If his kidneys aren’t already diseased, then hypertension can cause problems with these organs.
Because his heart is working harder than usual, he may also develop congestive heart failure. The heart muscle thickens and it isn’t able to pump as effectively.
Treating Hypertension in Cats
This condition can be managed by giving your cat medication that reduces blood pressure. However, at the same time you need to properly diagnose and treat whatever is causing the hypertension. Otherwise his hypertension may persist and continue to cause problems.
If your cat has kidney disease, he will benefit from a prescription diet and possibly intravenous fluids, multivitamin injections and anabolic steroids. Treatment usually results in a significant improvement in his condition, and his blood pressure will return to normal.
Thyroid disease is treated with surgical removal of the affected part of the thyroid gland, or with medication.
Whether or not your cat’s hypertension can be effectively managed depends on the underlying cause.
Hyperthyroidism responds well to treatment, and your can can live a relatively normal life after his diagnosis. On the other hand, kidney disease in old cats is irreversible and progressive. He will initially improve and feel better after treatment, but ultimately he won’t respond very well.
Hypertension is known as the silent killer in cats, because they can have this disease with no specific symptoms. If you have any concerns about even subtle changes in your elderly cat’s health, have him examined straight away. The earlier these conditions are treated, the better his prognosis.