Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is fairly common in cats. Although it can occur on its own, it is usually a sign of other serious health problems. High blood pressure can also cause problems with other parts of the body, including the eyes, kidneys and heart.
Cats are more likely to develop high blood pressure as they grow older. Though high blood pressure is potentially dangerous, proper diagnosis and treatment can reduce the harm that it does to a cat’s health.
Symptoms of Hypertension
It is rare for a cat to develop hypertension without another underlying cause—although it is possible. In most cases, another disease leads to the elevated blood pressure.
Kidney disease is the most common cause of hypertension in cats. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) and diabetes can also cause high blood pressure. Less commonly, this condition can be caused by a heart problem or a tumor that produces excess amounts of certain hormones.
Left untreated, hypertension can lead to problems in other parts of the body, such as:
- Sudden blindness or other eye problems
- Kidney problems that lead to loss of appetite or weight, and increased drinking or urination
- Brain problems, such as a cat being disoriented or having seizures
- Difficulty breathing
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypertension
A veterinarian can detect high blood pressure during a regular wellness visit. This is done in the same way as with people. In addition, blood work may be needed to identify the underlying cause.
Hypertension in cats is treated with medications that relax the walls of the blood vessel. This causes the blood vessel to widen, which lowers the blood pressure. These medications include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
Other health problems caused by the hypertension—or that are causing it—may also need treatment. Together, these treatments can reduce the effect of hypertension on a cat’s health.
Contact our office if your cat is exhibiting symptoms of hypertension. We will examine, diagnose and treat your feline friend.