How Important Is it to Check Your Cat’s Blood Pressure?

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By Molly Dalrymple



An Editorial in The Lancet ten years ago predicted that by 2025, over 1.5 billion adults will develop hypertension, or high blood pressure.  Now the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of International Cat Care, is calling attention to the same concern regarding cats.

Many older cats suffer from hypertension, yet it remains significantly undiagnosed.  The effects can be severe, causing damage to the eyes, heart, brain and kidneys.  Some damage, such as complete retinal detachment resulting in blindness, is irreversible.  However, other damage is treatable with early diagnosis and intervention.



The problem is that in general, routine blood pressure checks on cats are rarely performed.  Also, cats are highly susceptible to stress in a clinic setting and can make the interpretation of results difficult.

To help guide veterinary practitioners, this month the society has published the “ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Hypertension in Cats” in its flagship Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.  The recommendations include: how often to monitor blood pressure for cats of different ages and health status; when antihypertensive therapy is needed based on different pressure readings and evidence of organ damage; and what an investigation of hypertensive cats should include.

Samantha Taylor, a specialist in feline medicine and a co-chair of the guidelines panel explains, “Well illustrated and easy to read, it is hoped that these guidelines will encourage more widespread monitoring of blood pressure in veterinary clinics to increase the early identification of this treatable condition, and prevent the severe clinical consequences of untreated hypertension.”


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