Hypertension can cause damage to the internal organs of our pet, with hardly any symptoms. That is why it is important to know what it is and, above all, how to identify and act on high blood pressure in cats. 

How pressure measured and what is considered abnormal blood pressure in a cat?

First of all, we must know that it is possible and important to measure feline blood pressure. Taking a measurement is not as easy in veterinary medicine as in human. In felines, it is more difficult to do so due to the arrangement of their organs and the low intensity of their pulse wave.

There are invasive methods and non-invasive methods for taking blood pressure. The latter, which are easier to use, offer reliable measurement values. Our veterinary team, through a Doppler or the oscillometric or photoplestimographic method, will be able to obtain in a visit the blood pressure values of our cat and detect any anomaly.

It is recommended to take between five and seven readings (with a variability of 20%) to obtain reliable values.

Mean, systolic, and diastolic blood pressure in cats

Blood pressure is the value of the force of the blood when it is pushed against the walls of the arteries by the beat of the heart, which pumps it through the circulatory system. The stronger the heartbeats, the higher the pressure. We call the blood pressure produced when the heart pumps blood, systolic pressure (SBP).

When our cat is at rest and the heartbeat is slower, blood pressure (BP) drops. This is the diastolic blood pressure (DBP).

When taking a reading of our cat’s blood pressure we use these two values ​​(SBP and DBP) and, using a formula, we obtain the mean arterial pressure (MAP). This value will always be closer to the diastolic blood pressure.

Generally, the systolic value (SBP) is placed before the diastolic value (DBP). Thus, 120/80 will be interpreted as a systolic pressure of 120 and a diastolic pressure of 80.

Feline blood pressure

  • Normal-pressure in cats not under sedation should be:
  • Between 120 and 180 mmHg of systolic blood pressure(SBP).
  • Between 100 and 150 mmHg mean arterial pressure(MAP).
  • Between 60 and 100 mmHg of diastolic blood pressure(DBP).
  • Values ​​greater than 160 mmHg of SBP and/or 100 mmHg of DBP(obtained in repeated measurements, obviously always correctly) can be considered arterial hypertension (HTN).
  • PAS values ​​above 180 mmHg are considered severe hypertension and will require immediate evaluation and treatment.

What Causes Feline Hypertension?

The high voltage cat usually occurs because of another disease that affects the health of the cat. The most common cause of hypertension is a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight in our pets. Older animals are more prone to hypertension, so their examination protocol should include systematic blood pressure measurement.

Also, depending on the origin of the cat’s hypertension, we can divide hypertension into three types:

  • Primary (or idiopathic) hypertension: it is not usually related to the presence of other diseases. Its cause is not specifically known; therefore, it is related to the genetics of the animal. It is estimated that between 13% and 20% of hypertensive cats suffer from idiopathic hypertension.
  • Secondary hypertension: the blood pressure problem is due to another disease, such as diabetes or kidney damage.

In addition to primary or secondary hypertension, episodes of occasionally high blood pressure can also occur, due to moments of fear or stress/excitement of the cat (such as that which can occur during a visit to the veterinarian). Punctual high pressure should not be considered hypertension as such, since it will not last over time and will not necessarily have negative effects.

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Dangerous effects of hypertension in cats

The pressure in cats can be very dangerous because of the effects that can cause organs this health problem.

In the eyes

The high voltage in cats can cause intraocular hemorrhage, detachment or retinal swelling, and even loss of vision, usually unrecoverable.

In the brain and nervous system

The pressure in cats can cause problems in the neurological system of the animal. Therefore, the feline will have strange behaviors, wobbly when walking, and can suffer dementia, seizures, and even go into a coma.

In the heart

When there is hypertension, it is harder for the heart to pump blood, especially affecting the left ventricle. One of the effects of severe systematic arterial hypertension in cats is congestive heart failure, which manifests itself in our pet in lethargy (decrease its activity and increase its drowsiness) and respiratory problems.

In the kidneys

Chronic renal failure is the most common condition associated with cats with high blood pressure. In addition, as we have seen before, it is very common for cats that suffer from this kidney problem to have hypertension.

How to know if a cat suffers from hypertension?

As we have explained previously, Hypertension, generally, usually manifests as a consequence of another underlying disease. Therefore, affected patients are likely to have symptoms associated with the underlying disease. On many occasions, the owners go to the vet when the symptoms are severe and there is, for example, sudden blindness or eye bleeding.

Early diagnosis will prevent organ damage. Therefore, it is essential that, at the slightest symptom, you go to an emergency veterinarian.

What are the main symptoms?

This is a list of the symptoms associated with hypertension that should put us on alert:

  • Litter box rejection.
  • Hyperactivity and nervousness.
  • Changes in basic behaviors: defecations in strange places and blood in the urine.
  • Sadness and apathy.
  • Nasal bleeding.
  • The cat hides.
  • Sudden loss of weight and appetite.
  • Blindness, either temporary or permanent.
  • Hemorrhage of the eyeball and dilation of the pupils.
  • Strange and constant movements of the eye.
  • Temporary paralysis of the extremities.
  • Heart disease and seizures.
  • Enlargement of the kidneys.

In the most severe cases, the minnow may show hypersensitivity to light and movement problems. In addition, it can be difficult for you to coordinate movements and suffer from disorientation.

Can feline hypertension be treated or prevented?

As with people, prevention is the best treatment to avoid high blood pressure in cats. The most advisable thing is to make periodic visits to the vet to monitor the health of our pet and measure its blood pressure periodically.

  • In healthy cats from 3 to 6 years of age, itis recommended measuring blood pressure every 12 months.
  • In healthy senior cats 7 to 10 years of age, itis necessary to measure blood pressure at least every 12 months.
  • In healthy geriatric cats from 11 years of age, the measurement is necessary every 6 – 12 months at the most.
  • In any cat with risk factors such as hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, etc. … the measurement is recommended every 3 – 6 months.

Hypertension cannot be avoided 100%, but an active and healthy life is the best method to prevent it. In cats, in addition, a calm environment, good nutrition, and environmental stimulation and play will help our cat to be strong and healthy.

Once you notice your cat suffers from this, the most important thing is to know if hypertension occurs as a cause of secondary disease or if it is of a primary type. To do this, it is best to go to a specialist who can help.

We should suspect hypertension in any feline with chronic kidney failure, heart disease, or hyperthyroidism. Therefore, if another disease has caused hypertension, the origin must first be resolved. 

Prognosis of the cat with hypertension

The prognosis depends on the type of hypertension of the animal and how it has affected it.

When we talk about primary hypertension (that is, there is no underlying disease that causes high blood pressure) it is likely that we can achieve adequate control of hypertension and avoid complications, such as eye damage and that the problems do not go further.

Normally, cats with hypertension and blindness can live, thanks to antihypertensive treatment, for several years with a good quality of life.

If the hypertension is secondary, the prognosis will depend on the severity of the disease-causing high blood pressure. Cats suffering from chronic kidney failure and suffering from hypertension tend to have a worse prognosis than those with a condition such as hyperthyroidism, which is treatable.

In any case, if our cat is diagnosed with Hypertension, the most important thing is to perform periodic blood pressure measurements to prevent severe damage to the eyes, nervous system, kidneys… and to identify and treat the disease that causes it, if hypertension is secondary type.