High blood pressure is widespread among people and is considered a typical disease of civilization. In Europe alone, every fourth inhabitant suffers from hypertension – many of them without even knowing it. Because the disease does not cause any symptoms at the beginning. But the consequences, such as a stroke or cardiovascular disease, are often fatal. It is similar to our cats: cats are getting older and not only suffer more often from obesity and diabetes, but also from high blood pressure. We explain how you can prevent hypertension in your cat or get high blood pressure under control.
What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
High blood pressure is a disease of the cat’s cardiovascular system. Hormones, nerve, and vascular actions work together to determine the pressure with which the heart pumps blood through the veins. The normal blood pressure value for cats is 120/70 mmHg. If the fur noses are under stress – for example during a visit to the vet – it can rise to 160/100 mmHG. Only then do experts speak of hypertension in cats, i.e. high blood pressure.
Causes of High Blood Pressure in Cats
As with humans, the following applies: As you get older, the risk of developing high blood pressure increases. Every seventh cat is affected from the age of seven. High blood pressure is usually not an independent, primary disease, but is added to existing diseases. We, therefore, speak of “secondary high blood pressure”.
The risk of high blood pressure is particularly high for cats who suffer from chronic kidney disease or an overactive thyroid. In addition, hypertension is a common symptom of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Symptoms: Detecting High Blood Pressure in Cats
Unfortunately, high blood pressure is not externally recognizable and only becomes noticeable through consequential damage. If left untreated, it damages organs and vessels over time. For example, high blood pressure often leads to destroyed blood vessels in the eye. This causes blood or other fluids to leak out. If these collect, the retina can become detached – the cat goes blind. Externally, damage from high blood pressure to the eye can be seen in large pupils or visible bleeding, among other things. It can also lead to disorders of the kidneys, the heart – this is where rhythm disturbances occur – and the brain. Neurological symptoms such as cramps and an unsteady gait pattern as well as changes in behavior in the form of less appetite or frequent meowing are possible. If symptoms occur, the disease is already well advanced.
Measure Blood Pressure in Cats
It is true that the owner cannot recognize high blood pressure in the four-legged friend from the outside. But blood pressure measurement can be carried out easily and painlessly at the veterinarian’s. This places a blood pressure cuff for animals around a leg or tail and reads the result. Even more sensitive velvet paws like the measurement. When does blood pressure measurement make sense?
Check-ups for cats with heart, kidney, and thyroid problems should become part of the veterinary routine. You should also have overweight cats or cats older than seven years of age take a measurement once a year.
Detecting high blood pressure can provide an initial clue to other underlying conditions. In this way, in consultation with the veterinarian, you can react early and, under certain circumstances, give your cat many more symptom-free years.
Lower Blood Pressure in Cats
High blood pressure can be controlled well with drugs in cats. Various medications in the form of tablets are available for this. The calcium channel blocker amlodipine is most commonly used. Depending on the cause and stage of the disease, ACE inhibitors such as benazepril and ramipril or the beta-blocker atenolol can also be considered. With sick kidneys, in particular, setting the right dose is like walking a tightrope, as medication for high blood pressure can further worsen kidney performance.
Lowering the pressure enables a symptom-free cat life. Often the therapy has to be lifelong. It is important that you follow the veterinarian’s instructions. For this, regular checks are necessary in order to adjust the medication if necessary. In some cases, successfully treating the primary condition, such as diabetes or being overweight, can eliminate the need for high blood pressure medication.
Accordingly, healthy body weight and sufficient exercise can help effectively prevent high blood pressure. This applies to cats as well as to their humans.