Category Archives: Medical & Health Care

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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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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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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How to Afford the Cost of Veterinary Care

When you adopt a cat, you aren’t thinking about the day when your cat may become ill, or get injured, or need emergency care. But cats do get sick and sometimes do require expensive diagnostic tests and emergency care. You may be faced with veterinary expenses far beyond what you can afford, or need unexpected medical care that you didn’t anticipate and don’t know how you’re going to pay for it. Of course, you want to make the best decision for your cat, regardless of the cost, but how to pay for it? Here’s how to afford the cost of veterinary care.

I have been in this situation countless times with our many rescue cats. So often, I have needed to pony up and pay for complicated dental care, full-mouth extractions, multi-day emergency hospitalizations, or treating kidney failure to the tune of thousands of dollars—and I had no idea how we were going to pay for it.

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Why Your Cat Needs Good Dental Care

February is dental month! Dental disease has become the number one health concern in adult cats. Your cat needs good dental care just like you do. Without it, cats are more prone to problems associated with poor dental hygiene and can get serious and painful dental diseases. Without good dental care cats can suffer from having a painful mouth and as a result, can even stop eating. Good dental hygiene is as important to cats as it is to humans and contributes to your cat’s overall well being, comfort and happiness. The good news is most periodontal disease in cats is completely preventable with good dental care and annual wellness checks.

Roughly 4 out of 5 cats develop periodontal disease. Why? Partly because dental care in cats is often overlooked and left untreated. Cats hide their pain very well though they may be silently suffering, and many cat owners don’t take their cat for regular annual wellness exams each year. Untreated gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) often progresses into gum infection, chronic disease and can even impact vital organs.

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Don’t Ignore the Signs of Dental Disease in Cats

Cats Need Dental CareFebruary is Dental Awareness Month, so it’s a perfect time to start the year off right by providing good dental care for your cat. Dental or periodontal disease can lead to many serious health and medical issues if left untreated. And untreated dental disease can be very painful for your cat and can even cause them to stop eating. The key to good dental care and managing dental disease is prevention.

Dental disease and oral tumors can start in cats as young as 1-2 years old so it’s important to have your cat’s mouth, gums and teeth evaluated starting when they are young. Gum disease is an infection that results from a build-up of dental plaque or bacteria on the surfaces of the teeth around the gum line. If plaque is allowed to accumulate it can lead to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth. The gums will then become inflamed causing bleeding and oral pain. Inflammation can progress affecting both soft and bony tissues causing gum disease, bone loss, and periodontal damage. When severe periodontal disease is present bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and damage the kidneys, heart and liver.

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The Importance of Annual Physical Exams for Cats

Maybe you adopted a new cat or have had your cat for years now—in either case annual physical exams are highly recommended for maintaining the optimal health of your cat. Your cat may be low-maintenance, but that’s no reason not to take them for a wellness exam every year. This article will highlight the reasons why annual physical exams for cats are so important.

Cats mask when they are sick or feel bad—they can hide suffering and pain very well, it’s an evolutionary trait—so you may not know that they’re suffering. And just because your cat lives indoors doesn’t mean they can’t get sick, or don’t have a congenital or chronic disease, bacterial or viral infection, severe tooth decay or gum disease, inflammation causing health issues, or a possible stress-related illness. All of these are possible for indoor-only cats.

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The Dreaded “H” Word – Treating Hyperthyroid Disease in Cats

Hyperthyroid disease in cats is very treatable and manageable, and though I had always feared being told one of my cats has “hyperthyroid disease,” I have found that it isn’t the dreaded word or disease that I thought it would be.

Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Beautiful, blind Godiva

Godiva was our first cat diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.  She’s a beautiful blind chocolate Persian who as a kitten, was taken to our local animal shelter where she was adopted by a volunteer. But at five years old she was given up again, and found her way to our rescue group where we became her foster parents. When Godiva was never adopted, we adopted her ourselves and have found her to be a courageous, determined blind girl that navigates our house beautifully, despite her blindness and many cat “obstacles.”

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