High blood pressure, or hypertension, is common in older cats. Usually in cats it is found as a complication of other underlying medical conditions such as kidney disease. To detect hypertension early, and because it is more common in older cats, regular blood pressure checks are recommended in cats from 7 years of age (as per the ISFM guidelines).
As part of our dedication to older cat care, we include an annual blood pressure check for all cats who are members of our Complete Care Club. This can be done at the same time as the 6 month nurse check for silver members, or at the time of the booster if you let us know when booking.
Why is it important to detect high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can damage the body. The most serious effects are on the following organs:
Eyes – bleeding into the eyes and changes to the retina at the back of the eye can occur. This may result in damage to the cat’s vision and even blindness.
Brain – bleeding in the brain can cause neurological signs such as unusual behaviour and wobbliness.
Heart – the muscle of the heart can become thickened, as the heart must work harder to pump the blood.
Kidneys – high blood pressure can increase the risk of renal failure and make concurrent kidney disease worse over time.
In many cats no signs of the high blood pressure will be noticeable until the condition advances to the point that they present with severe effects such as blindness. Early recognition is important to minimise the damaging effects and to manage any underlying diseases.
How do we diagnose high blood pressure in cats?
We use an inflatable cuff placed around one of the legs or the tail and then a device called a Doppler machine to listen to the pulse (in humans a stethoscope is used). Measuring blood pressure only takes a few minutes, is completely pain-free and is extremely well tolerated by most cats – as demonstrated by the lovely Billy in the photo above.
We do take stress into account when measuring blood pressure in cats, but try to minimise this effect by allowing them to become familiar with the room, or by having their owner present for example.
You can book your cat in to have their blood pressure checked by one of our nursing team. The normal price for this is £32.98, but for cats on our Complete Care Club one check per year is included. Blood pressure can be checked alongside your cat’s annual health check, to minimise visits – just let us know when booking your booster appointment.
What do we do if high blood pressure is diagnosed?
If hypertension is diagnosed your cat will require an assessment to see if there are any underlying problems e.g. kidney disease and if there are any complications e.g. changes to the appearance of the back of the eye.
Treatment involves tablets to reduce the blood pressure and management of any underlying disease.
For more information, or to book, give us a call on 01803 606059 (Torquay) or 01803 843836 (Paignton), or book a nurse consult online.