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Hypertension in Cats

Just like humans, cats can also develop Hypertension, which is the medical term for high blood pressure. Hypertension is a condition seen in older cats whereby blood pressure increases and can have harmful secondary effects on other organs around the body including the eyes, kidneys and heart.

Hypertension is often seen as an effect of other diseases, cats with hypertension may be showing signs attributable to their underlying problem.  Causes of hypertension can include kidney disease, endocrine or hormonal diseases, idiopathic (unknown cause)/spontaneous and “White coat effect”.

 True hypertension can lead to blindness, progressive kidney disease and heart disease. Signs of hypertension that may be noticed by owners at home, are often severe or permanent, but early signs may be noticed by your veterinarian, stressing the importance of regular checkups for senior cats.

Clinical signs of hypertension may include:

  • Impaired vision and bumping into objects
  • Acute blindness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyphaema (blood in the eye)
  • Polyuria/polydipsia (drinking and urinating more) may be seen with concurrent kidney disease.

Your veterinarian may notice changes to the back of the eye (the fundus/retina) 6 months before vision is impaired by performing a fundic (eye) exam on your cat. Early intervention can halter high blood pressure before seeing these devastating and often irreversible secondary effects of this condition.  

When concerned about high blood pressure your veterinarian may measure your cat’s blood pressure, perform a fundic (eye) exam and perform a blood test. Regular examinations of cats over 7 years of age is recommended and as they get older 6-monthly checks should be done.

Blood pressure can be controlled with oral medications and should be regularly monitored.