Blood Pressure (High & Low) in Cats

Last Updated on July 2, 2021 by Julia Wilson

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force in which the blood is exerted against the walls of the arteries in the body. Think of your arteries as a pipe, for cats with high blood pressure, the blood travels through these pipes at a higher pressure than normal.

There are two readings from blood pressure tests:

  • Systolic – Is the pressure as the heart contracts
  • Diastolic – Is the pressure as the heart relaxes and fills with blood

High blood pressure is an under-diagnosed disease that can lead to significant health problems. Senior cats should have their blood pressure checked every 6 months.

Blood pressure ranges in cats

Normal Low High
  • Systolic: 110 to 160mm/Hg
  • Diastolic: 55 to 100mm/Hg
  • Systolic: 90 – 100mm/Hg or lower
  • Diastolic: 50mm/Hg or lower
  • Systolic: 160mm/Hg or greater
  • Diastolic: 100 – 110mm/Hg

 How do veterinarians measure blood pressure?

An inflatable cuff is placed on the cat’s front leg or tail which is attached to a monitor.

High blood pressure in cats

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common disorder which most often affects middle-aged to senior cats. Common causes include kidney problems, Cushing’s disease or hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hypertension can vary depending on the underlying cause. High blood pressure damages the blood vessels, leading to damage to organs, especially the eyes, heart, brain, and kidneys.

Clinical signs

  • Visual impairment, including fixed and dilated pupils, retinal haemorrhage, retinal detachment or blindness.
  • Enlargement of the heart leading to congestive heart failure and accompanying symptoms such as lethargy, breathlessness.
  • Neurological symptoms such as ataxia (wobbly gait) and seizures.

Finding the underlying cause (if there is one) and treating that is necessary to bring high blood pressure under control. Other treatments may include controlling dietary sodium, administration of vasodilators, beta-blocking drugs and diuretics.

Low blood pressure

Known as hypotension, there are several causes, which include:

  • Shock
  • Trauma – Internal or external bleeding
  • Certain heart conditions
  • Certain medications such as anesthesia

Clinical signs

  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

The most common cause of hypotension is low blood volume. This may occur as a result of heavy/prolonged bleeding, excessive fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea, or dehydration.