Much like humans, cats can suffer from issues with their blood pressure. Keep reading to find out the potential causes, signs to look out for, and treatment.
High vs. low blood pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when your cat’s blood pressure is continually higher than normal and can affect their heart, kidneys, eyes and nervous system.
The condition can be caused by other diseases, in which case it’s called secondary hypertension, or it can be the main issue itself, which is called primary hypertension.
Hypotension, or low blood pressure, is usually a result of blood loss or shock, leading to weakness, lethargy and fainting.
Due to the link between hypotension and trauma or injury, most cats with low blood pressure need critical emergency care to treat trauma or injury.
High blood pressure in cats
Cats between four and 20 years old are at most risk of high blood pressure.
While the causes of primary hypertension are unknown, research suggests that it could be hereditary. Secondary hypertension is far more common and accounts for around 80% of all high blood pressure cases.
It can be caused by a variety of factors, including renal disease, obesity, hormonal issues and hyperthyroidism. Diabetes can also cause high blood pressure, although this is rare in cats.
Symptoms of high blood pressure in cats include:
- behavioural changes
- heart murmurs
Your cat may not show any physical symptoms until the condition is severe, so the best indicator that something is wrong is a change in their behaviour.
If your cat is showing behavioural changes or any of the above symptoms,you should see your local vet as soon as possible. Your vet will then take several blood pressure tests using an inflatable cuff - similar to that used on humans - around the paw or tail.
If your cat has secondary high blood pressure, treating the underlying disease or illness will bring their blood pressure back to normal levels. If this isn’t possible, your cat will need to be on medication to control the condition indefinitely. Feeding them food that’s low in sodium may also help manage it.
Your cat’s blood pressure will need to be checked regularly and lab tests may be required to measure their reaction to medication.
Low blood pressure in cats
Low blood pressure can be caused by an accident or injury that leads to a significant loss of blood, due to there being less blood in their system.
Various health problems may also lead to low blood pressure, including heart, liver or kidney issues, anaemia or a low red blood cell count. Long-term neglect, malnutrition and dehydration can also contribute to hypotension.
One of the most common effects of low blood pressure is that the major organs don’t receive enough oxygen and nutrients, causing them to weaken, become damaged and, in some cases, fail.
Symptoms of low blood pressure include:
- fainting or collapse
- pale or white gums
- excessive urination
- increased thirst.
Although not commonly encountered, low blood pressure is very serious when it occurs. Since hypotension is usually as a result of a critical injury or trauma, immediate emergency care is needed.
Diagnosing the cause of hypotension is relatively simple and treating the underlying cause helps bring your cat’s blood pressure levels back to normal.
Generally speaking, it’s unusual for a vet to provide medication or treatment for low blood pressure as a standalone issue.
Blood pressure checks with Medivet Healthcare Plan
As your cat gets older, they’re much more likely to experience issues with their blood pressure. That’s why our Medivet Healthcare Plan offers twice-yearly blood pressure checks for cats over the age of eight. This helps identify any underlying issues as soon as possible, keeping your cat happy and healthy for years to come.
Our bespoke plans also include:
- annual booster vaccinations
- complete flea, worm and tick protection for the year
- a nose-to-tail health check every six months.
Speak to your local Medivet practice to choose a Medivet Healthcare Plan that suits you and your cat.