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High Blood Pressure: Understanding the Silent Killer

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

While cats are known for their independent and self-reliant nature, they can still face health challenges that require our attention. In this blog post, we delve into the often-overlooked medical condition of high blood pressure (hypertension). Join me as I explore the causes, symptoms, potential complications, and management strategies for this silent killer that can affect all older cats of all breeds.

  1. Unveiling the Hidden Threat: High blood pressure can have a significant impact on a cat's overall health. It is often associated with underlying conditions, especially kidney disease. Regular blood pressure monitoring is particularly important for senior cats, as high blood pressure is usually a silent condition with subtle signs. Early detection is key to implementing appropriate management strategies. By understanding the potential consequences and prioritising regular veterinary check-ups, we can ensure the well-being of our cats and provide timely intervention to reduce the risks associated with high blood pressure.

  2. Signs and Symptoms: It is not called the silent killer for nothing. Often there are no outward sighs of high blood pressure in cats. Some cats will become more vocal and start to cry more, especially overnight. Your vet may be able to spot high blood pressure in your cat by checking their retinas, as changes to the retina are often the first sign anything may be wrong. This is why all cats over 9 years of age should have their retinas checked at least once a year at their annual check up.

  3. Complications and Consequences: The main complication of high blood pressure is that your cat can become suddenly and permanently blind in one or both eyes. Some cats will only lose some vision, but any vision loss is permanent. When this happens, it can be very distressing for the cat and tragically it often results in euthanasia of an otherwise well cat.

  4. Diagnostic Process: Diagnosing high blood pressure is straightforward and can be done by your vet using a simple cuff around the leg or tail. You can get more information about this, including dos and don'ts at the vet clinic, by watching this video that I have made.

  5. Treatment and Management: Treatment of high blood pressure is straightforward with either pills or a cream that you rub into the inside of your cat's ear. Regular monitoring of your cat's blood pressure is essential, and once your cat is diagnosed with high blood pressure, they will require treatment for life.

  6. Prevention and Awareness: If your vet is not checking your cat's retinas or offering to check your cat's blood pressure - ask them! All cats over the age of 9 should have their retinas checked at least yearly and all cats over 12 should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. If your cat is younger but they have kidney disease, they should also have their blood pressure checked regularly.

High blood pressure in cats may be a silent killer, but with awareness, early detection, and appropriate management, we can safeguard our feline friends' health and well-being. Stay informed, be proactive, and remember that your vet is your ally in ensuring your cat's overall wellness.

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