You may have heard about hypertension (high blood pressure) in humans; a disease that can sneak up on us without warning and lead to heart and kidney disease, sudden strokes and blindness. It’s a real killer if not picked up early. Well unfortunately our feline friends can suffer from exactly the same problem, with the same consequences if we don’t look out for it.
Cats with this disease can range from 4 to 20 years old. It is most commonly triggered by other diseases such as an overactive thyroid, kidney disease, or diabetes – so if your cat has these he or she should have his or her blood pressure tested, ideally every 3 - 6 months. But in about 20% of cats it can occur spontaneously, and these are the ones that are very hard to pick up as there are no signs until damage starts to occur.
Signs of a hypertensive cat can include some or none of the following: seizures, circling, disorientation, blindness, blood in the eye, dilated pupils, retinal detachment, blood in the urine, protein in the urine, bleeding from the nose, swollen or shrunken kidneys, heart murmurs and weakness.
Checking for hypertension in a cat is easy: booking him or her into the practice for a day so we can check his blood pressure periodically over a few hours to get an average result. Like in humans, this is done with a small cuff around their forearm.
If the results are positive, the disease can be controlled with medication, and if there is a primary disease that is triggering the high blood pressure, this can be evaluated and addressed as well.
So if you’re worried about your middle aged or older cat, have a chat with your Wellpets vet and see if he or she could do with a blood pressure check.