Educational Resources

Blood Pressure in Cats

Beware of a Silent Killer

For cats, high blood pressure is a very dangerous and often life-threatening health concern, as it commonly remains unnoticed until they become suddenly blind or have a stroke. It is therefore very important that cats, especially cats 10 years of age and older, have their blood pressure checked at their semi-annual or annual exams. In fact, in the last month we have seen two cases of hypertension that had gone unnoticed and caused blindness. Depending on other illness that may be present, hypertension in cats can be effectively controlled with a medication called amlodipine. Even just a fraction of this tiny tablet given on a daily basis can be life-saving for a cat with high blood pressure!

There are many dangerous myths about high blood pressure in people and non-human animals. According to the American Heart Association, the worst myth of all is that there are symptoms associated with climbing blood pressure. Hypertension is silent. This means that there are no obvious symptoms until a hypertensive crisis occurs. In a hypertensive crisis permanent physical damage can occur including blindness. Headaches, severe anxiety, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds are also symptoms in a crisis.

Because silent hypertension is so very dangerous, the goal is always to catch high blood pressure before a crisis occurs and physical damage is done. This is precisely why our human physicians check our blood pressure at routine check-ups, and why your cat's veterinarian recommends routine blood pressure checks as well. Read more about hypertension in cats from the Animal Health Foundation.

This article appeared in Cats Exclusive's Fall 2012 Mewsletter.

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