Hypertension, blood pressure, cat, stress, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, senior, accident, weight loss, vomiting, blindness, check up, treatment, thyroid
My mom went to see her doctor the other day and was told that her blood pressure was too high. She, like millions of Americans, suffers from hypertension. The cause in people can be a chaotic lifestyle, diet, genetics or a host of medical conditions. Were you aware that this silent killer could also plague cats?
Cats have a pretty cushy lifestyle. So why would a cat have high blood pressure? The two most common reasons are chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland. In a recent study, 87% of cats with untreated hyperthyroidism were hypertensive. Typically it is the middle to older aged cat that grapples with these diseases but occasionally a younger feline is afflicted.
How would you know if your cat was hypertensive? Usually you don't. Most frequently, pet owners notice the signs of the underlying primary condition. Kidney disease as well as an overactive thyroid can cause a cat to drink excessive amounts of water, flood the litter box or have urinary accidents. Weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea are also seen.
Hyperthyroidism can give a geriatric cat the false appearance of a sudden increased vitality by ramping up the appetite and its activity levels. You might also see changes in behavior, seizures, or collapse. Sudden blindness due to retinal detachment may be the first indication that a cat is hypertensive.
Determining blood pressure in cats and people is done in a very similar manner. An inflatable cuff is placed on a limb or tail base. The cuff is pumped up with air until it temporarily collapses the blood vessel underneath it. The veterinary technician or doctor then checks the monitors to determine the maximum pressure the blood exerts on the vessel when it is forcibly ejected from the heart. This is called the systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, the monitor registers a lower value known as diastolic pressure. You may be wondering how you are ever going to put that cuff around a cat's leg. The main difference between obtaining pressure readings in pets and people is patience and persistence.
If your cat is determined to have high blood pressure, will it need to be treated? It really depends on the severity of the elevation and the underlying disease. Often controlling the primary disorder is all that is needed in the early stages. However, if medication is indicated, several effective and safe drugs are available. Which treatments are best for your pet? Your veterinarian will decide the most appropriate course of action. Be sure to ask your doctor what possible side effects you might observe at home and which ones need to be brought to his or her attention.
Reassessing your cat's health and response to therapy will be accomplished by follow up consultations. These visits are critical to help insure that your cat experiences the best quality of life for as long as possible.
Are there ways to prevent hypertension is cats? Since this condition is usually a secondary finding to kidney disease or an overactive thyroid, early detection of these conditions is vital. A twice-yearly examination of all cats, especially those over 7 years of age along with routine blood and urine testing is of paramount importance. Early detection affords improved management and often an enhanced prognosis.