High Blood Pressure: A Silent Killer in Older Cats

by Lucy Nowell MRCVS
Published: Last Updated on

As pet owners ourselves, we at Station House Vets understand how special our older feline companions are.

There are a number of conditions commonly encountered in older cats that, if identified early, can be effectively managed. And, as cats can be masters of disguise, diagnosis and treatment can dramatically improve their quality of life. Bringing your cat to the clinic can be stressful for both owner and pet so we do have some tips to help minimise this.

This Autumn we are promoting care for older cats and our feline-friendly nurses would like to invite you to a senior cat clinic, a free check up at the practice (if your cat is due a booster vaccination, this could be combined with consultation).

During the clinic they will ask you to fill in a questionnaire about your cat’s habits whilst your cat settles in. The nurses will then do a weight check, body condition score and a blood pressure check. “What?” you may ask? Yes! A blood pressure check with a baby cuff on a blood pressure monitor!

About 20% of cats over nine have high blood pressure and, as with people, the symptoms might not be obvious.

Known as the ‘silent killer’ in humans, high blood pressure can result in damage to the kidneys, brain and spinal cord, heart and blood vessels and the eyes.

Sadly, some cats come to us with sudden onset blindness as the first symptom, which is very distressing. The good news, though, is that we have very effective treatment for high blood pressure in the form of small tablets given every day. Ideally all cats aged 9 and over should be screened once a year, increasing to every 6 months for pets over 11 years.

If your pet is very anxious on the day, we might suggest repeating the blood pressure check again in 1-2 weeks and usually with a vet, who will also look at other things like your cat’s eyes, to give us further clues.

Some nervous cats may benefit from having a calming medicine before they come in or be left a little longer to settle in.

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