Does Your Cat Have High Blood Pressure?

Feline high blood pressure or hypertension can be a dangerous problem for your cat’s health. If left untreated it can affect your cat’s organs including their eyes, kidneys, heart and even brain. A simple blood pressure test can be done during your cat’s annual veterinary exam to quickly determine if your cat’s blood pressure is in the normal range. Detecting it early is the key to success and will minimize damage to vital organs.

Cats that are particularly vulnerable to developing hypertension are often older cats as well as cats that have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, heart or hyperthyroid disease. If your cat has been diagnosed with any of these diseases, you want to watch carefully for the signs and symptoms of hypertension, and get annual or bi-annual veterinary exams to avoid the possible damage caused to organs by hypertension. Since it’s more common in older cats, you’ll want to include regular blood pressure checks in your annual exams starting with cats that are 8 years of age and older. For cats that are 14 years and older, include a blood pressure test in their bi-annual exam.

Symptoms and Problems Caused by Hypertension for Cats

If hypertension is left untreated it can cause blindness, heart abnormalities and disease, stroke, seizures, paralysis of the hind legs, and various neurological and nervous disorders. The most common complaints related to hypertension left untreated in cats is retinal detachment, retinal hemorrhage, and acute blindness. Some cats with hypertension will show signs of vomiting, abnormal vocalization, have tremors, frequent blinking, are depressed, lethargic, disoriented, and may show weakness on one side of the body. Some cats may have blood in their urine or bleed from their nose, in addition to other signs.

Checking your cat’s blood pressure to make sure it’s in the normal range can prevent not only these from happening, but can mean treatment before there is more damage. Fortunately, high blood pressure or hypertension is a highly treatable disease with medication and regular monitoring. Diagnosing the disease early can significantly minimize the damage and discomfort caused to your cat’s vital organs.

Measuring High Blood Pressure in Cats

Does Your Cat Have High Blood Pressure?
Doppler blood pressure test on cats

Blood pressure testing is a fairly simple, inexpensive, non-invasive and pain-free procedure. Some cats when visiting the vet can experience increased anxiety and stress, which can elevate their blood pressure. To measure your cat’s blood pressure, your veterinarian will likely use a Doppler Flow Detection device, which is commonly used for cats and small animals. The simple procedure involves applying a surgical fluid for conductivity and cuffing your cat’s leg or tail. The cuff is inflated and then the pressure is slowly decreased and a reading is taken. This method measures systolic pressure only, which for cats is considered normal between 120-160 depending on how relaxed they are. Sometimes the measurement will need to be taken several times to make sure the reading is accurate, particularly if the cat is feeling anxious. In addition, a blood chemistry panel may be taken for a more complete, thorough analysis and accurate diagnosis. An eye exam may be beneficial as well since ocular disease is common in many hypertensive cats.

Treatment of High Blood Pressure in Cats

Management of hypertension will depend on if there are other secondary underlying causes linked to the disease like chronic renal disease and hyperthyroidism. Some 19-65% of chronic renal failure cats have hypertension1 and roughly 87 percent of cats with hyperthyroidism have mild high blood pressure2. Secondary hypertension accounts for approximately 80 percent of all hypertension cases. Cats with an underlying cause of hypertension will be treated first for that disease in addition to the hypertension. If your cat has been diagnosed with either chronic renal disease or hyperthyroidism, or both, be sure to have their blood pressure tested regularly.

The most common treatment used for hypertension is a beta blocker or calcium channel blocker therapy—a medication given in pill form daily. Cats that have repeated high systolic blood pressure readings over 160 mm will require regular monitoring of their blood pressure along with being given their medication. Cats with both kidney disease and high blood pressure should have plenty of access to fresh, clean water, since they can become dehydrated quickly. To provide enough water, add more water bowls in key locations of your home to give them more access to water. You can also add warm water to your cat’s canned food to increase their hydration level. Your vet may also recommend and prescribe a cat food that is lower in sodium.

Cats that have high blood pressure can live very normal, healthy, long lives with proper care and treatment, high blood pressure medication, and regular monitoring.

 

References

1 Syme, HM et al (2002) Prevalence of systolic hypertension in cats with chronic renal failure at initial evaluation. J Am Vet Med Association 220:1799

2 Petmd.com: High Blood Pressure in Cats

 

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Preventing Lower Urinary Tract Problems in Cats

Lower urinary tract problems in cats can be life threatening, are extremely painful, and need immediate attention and treatment by a veterinarian. Preventing lower urinary tract problems in cats is critical for your cat’s health.

Urinary crystals can quickly turn into kidney stones, and kidney stones are deadly in a short period of time, so never wait or postpone seeing your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Your vet will determine if there are underlying medical conditions causing the symptoms through conducting a urinalysis, culture and cystoscopy and a complete medical review. If your cat is visiting the litter box repeatedly in a short period of time, straining in the box and sitting in the box trying to urinate, or urinating outside the litter box, it’s time to visit your vet.

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How to Create a Happier, Stress-Free Environment For Your Cat

Sometimes change is unavoidable for our cats, like moving into a new home, bringing home a new baby, having house guests, or adopting a new dog or cat. All of these can truly rock a cat’s world and trigger behavior changes. Sometimes even the slightest change can cause some cats to become uncomfortable, fearful, stressed, and anxious. Here’s how to create a happier, stress-free environment for your cat and ways to enrich their environment at home.

Cats are very vulnerable to changes in their life, and they will often show us when they are feeling anxious and uncomfortable by hiding more often, obsessively licking or vocalizing more, uncontrollably chewing or drooling, sleeping all day or more than normal, urine marking or even potting outside the litter box. Sometimes external changes in the cat’s home environment can even negatively impact your cat’s overall health and quality of life.

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Pet Fooled – How Commercial Pet Food is Making Our Pets Sick

“I don’t trust companies anymore. They don’t care about me or my pets, they only care about my money. That’s a terrible thing.”

“Once you start digging the evidence becomes overwhelming that the industry has significant issues.”

Domestic cats and dogs in the U.S. are experiencing an epidemic of health problems at levels that have never been seen before. Increasingly, our pets are more diseased than ever, getting chronic illnesses very similar to those in people. The rates of cancer, kidney and liver disease, arthritis, chronic degenerative diseases, auto-immune diseases, allergies, pancreatic disease, Inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal lymphoma, and diabetes—have all skyrocketed in recent decades, and all of them are linked to diet say veterinarians. Pet obesity is at epidemic levels. Yet, Americans have never spent more on their pets and on pet food. So why is this happening?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that cancer in pets now accounts for almost 50% of all deaths of cats and dogs over 10 years of age in the U.S.

Consumers may think the pet food industry is heavily regulated with strong federal oversight. But that could not be further from the truth. The FDA, the federal regulating body with oversight for the industry, allows harmful standards of toxic and carcinogenic ingredients set by the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) and created by the pet food manufacturers themselves, for pet food in the U.S. That’s where the problems start. They end with sick pets being diagnosed with chronic health problems requiring long-term medical care because of the unhealthy commercial pet food they are eating.

Pet Fooled is a wake up call for today’s pet guardians. With interviews by leading veterinarians and prominent pet food experts, the film examines the highly unregulated pet food industry and the negative and deadly impact it is having on the health of dogs and cats in the U.S. today. Our cats and dogs are slowly and progressively getting sick and dying from commercial pet food. They are at risk of dying prematurely because pet food manufacturers are feeding them harmful, toxic, carcinogenic, and poisonous ingredients, and there is little to no oversight and accountability. Pet food companies are getting away with using toxic and poison-laden foods containing bio-chemicals, deadly preservatives, rendered animals (from road-kill, euthanized animals from vets, and dead farm animals), pesticides, industrial chemicals, drug residues, contaminated animals, along with foods lacking in the essential nutrients that our dogs and cats really need. The pet food industry is badly broken and the government is looking the other way and allowing it. Watch Pet Fooled to find out why.

Film Length: 1 hour / 10 minutes

Film Release: 2016

“Dogs and cats are nutritionally much more resilient than other species, what that means is we can nutritionally abuse them. They don’t die immediately, but they decline over time, they have overall vitality decline and an increase in health problems.”

Continue reading Pet Fooled – How Commercial Pet Food is Making Our Pets Sick

Preventing and Treating Fleas in Cats – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Summer is a favorite season for picnics in the park, enjoying the seashore, and dining al fresco—but with warm summer temperatures also come the fleas! Fleas can wreak havoc on cats causing discomfort, severe skin conditions, allergic reactions, parasites (tape worms), anemia and even death in the worst cases, if left untreated. So it’s important to protect your cat from fleas, but it’s also important to know the dangers of some flea control products on the market today. In this article, you’ll become knowledgeable about the different flea treatment options, some of the health consequences associated with them, and you’ll learn ways to provide your cat with the safest possible flea treatments and precautions available. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly on preventing and treating fleas in cats.

Does Your Cat Have Fleas?

To check whether your cat has fleas, you can run a flea comb through your cat’s fur pressing along the skin to check for adult fleas or flea feces and eggs. These will look like little specks of salt and pepper or tiny black and white grains in the fur. The white grains are flea eggs, and the black grains are flea feces. If you have found and removed some grains on your flea comb, rub the grains onto a piece of white paper and if the grains turn a reddish-brown color, you know you have a flea problem.

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Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe On July 4th

Tips For Keeping Your Cat Safe On July 4th
Keep cats inside on July 4th!

The July 4th holiday may be a fun time for us humans, but it’s a stressful, terrifying time for cats. The sound of fireworks can frighten cats and send them running for cover or bolting out the door. Explosions – even miles away – can cause cats to panic. Every year, animal shelters around the country are suddenly flooded with scared, lost cats and dogs that could have been prevented with some simple precautions.

You can make the July 4th holiday less stressful for your cat by thinking ahead and following some simple tips to protect them and keep them as comfortable as possible.

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Safety and Protection Checklist for Cats

Cats are curious animals, and because of it, they can get themselves into trouble at times. This list of dos and don’ts will help you be a more responsible guardian of your cat, and help to keep your cat safe from harm; free from unnecessary injury and accidents; free from unnecessary disease and suffering; and keep your cat as healthy and happy as possible!

Some Don’ts

DON’T leave your cat unattended in your car. NEVER leave a cat inside a car on a warm or hot day, not even for one minute.

DON’T let your cat roam free in the neighborhood.

DON’T re-home or give your cat away. Always try to keep your cat even when life requires making unexpected changes or facing unexpected challenges. If you must re-home your cat, be sure to screen and interview the potential adopters in person for their experience and history with cats; learn everything about them and meet all family members that live in the home; check their work/landlord/school/personal references; and visit their home in advance to make sure the cat will have a safe and loving environment to live. Here is a list of tips for preparing to adopt a cat.

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Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Your cat’s body is made up of 70-80% water or three-quarters of your cat’s body weight is water, so it’s critical that your cat gets enough fluids daily to maintain good health and prevent dehydration. Water is essential for cat’s urinary and kidney health, circulation, digestion, and waste removal. With hot summer days now upon us, it’s even more important that your cat has access to and drinks enough water, as dehydration can lead to a number of serious medical problems and even death. Here are the signs of dehydration in cats and why it’s so important to treat dehydration immediately.

Why Hydration is So Important

Dehydration happens when your cat loses body fluids faster than he can replace them, and it can happen when your cat is either not drinking enough water or is losing too many fluids. Fluids lost through daily urination, elimination and respiration all need to be replaced to normal levels everyday. But if your cat hasn’t been drinking enough water; has been vomiting or has diarrhea; or has been ill or had a fever; or your cat is old, then rehydration is even more critical as all of these can leave your cat severely dehydrated.

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Cats Need Clean Water Daily to Maintain Their Health

Cats are made up of about 70% water, so they need clean, fresh, cool water daily to maintain their health. If you feed your cats dry food, then water is even more critical as dry food has a very low water content (about only 10%), so they will need an additional supply of water.

It’s critical to always provide your cat plenty of fresh water in various places of your home. Make sure that the bowls are large enough and be sure to clean, wash, and refresh the water bowls at least every other day.

Just because you have larger bowls doesn’t mean you should wash them less. Be sure to wash bowls with soap and water. Bacteria and germs develop quickly when water sits still after a couple of days.

Cats Need Clean Water Daily to Maintain Their Health
Pyrex Glass Bowls for Cats Water

Consider using only glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bowls for water—avoid using plastic for water or food. Plastic can leach out chemicals and can hold bacteria.

The more cats you have the more water bowls you need. We have several in each area of our house and refresh them daily. I like and recommend using large Pyrex glass bowls, they’re very inexpensive, strong, ample, and safe for cats to drink from them.

Most Toxic Plants for Cats, Lilies and More

With Easter right around the corner and springtime here, it’s time to highlight the list of the most poisonous and toxic plants for cats.

Most Toxic Plants for Cats
The Lily is Extremely Toxic and Deadly for Cats

Many people give and receive lilies for Easter, but know that lilies are considered highly toxic and poisonous to cats—they are so severely poisonous they are in fact deadly.

The reported mortality rate for lilies is as high as 100% if left untreated later than 18 hours after ingestion.

For cats that even ingest a small amount of most types of lilies, severe kidney failure can occur within 36 hours. Just the yellow-orange pollen that falls off the stamen onto your table or counter is lethally poisonous to cats. Since cats groom, if the pollen gets onto your cat’s fur, be sure to wash it off with water or a wet towel, and make sure there are no traces left. Continue reading Most Toxic Plants for Cats, Lilies and More