How to Check a Cat's Blood Pressure

The normal blood pressure range for a healthy cat is between 80 and 140 mmHg for systolic pressure and between 55 and 75 mmHg for diastolic pressure. Although cats can live with high blood pressure for an extended period of time, low blood pressure is an indicator of a health crisis. If you believe that your cat is suffering from either high or low blood pressure symptoms, contact your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Pet during medical appointment
Kidney failure and hypothyroidism can cause a cat's blood pressure to rise.
credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Hypotension Signs and Symptoms

Hypotension, or low blood pressure, is caused by a variety of conditions or diseases including low blood pressure, liver failure, certain medications and anesthetic drugs, diarrhea, vomiting or physical trauma. Cats with low blood pressure often have an erratic pulse that is too fast or too slow. Mucous membranes tend to be pale and capillary refill time will be slow. Your cat may be unable to pass urine and his ears and feet may be cold to the touch, indicating hypothermia. Your cat may be unaware of his surroundings and may exhibit weakness, according to the Animal Specialty and Emergency Center in Los Angeles, California.

Hypertension Signs and Symptoms

High blood pressure usually occurs in cats 4 years and older. It can affect most of your cat's major body systems, including the nervous system as well as the heart, eyes and kidneys. Though the cause for primary hypertension is unknown, it may be linked to a cat's genetic code. Secondary hypertension accounts for 80 percent of feline high blood pressure victims, according to PetMD, and may be caused by renal disease, fluctuating hormones and hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hypertension include seizures, circling, disorientation, bleeding from the nose and blood in the urine, dilated pupils and weakness on one side of the cat's body.

Methods for Checking Blood Pressure

Direct measurement, which includes the insertion of a catheter into the cat's pedal artery, is an invasive procedure that can lead to pain, infection and bruising, according to Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM, of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York City, New York. The Doppler technique is a noninvasive technique that involves the use of an ultrasound probe placed over a large artery in the cat's leg or tail. A blood pressure cuff next to the probe is inflated until the blood vessel is squeezed snugly enough for pulse sounds to cease. Once the cuff is deflated and the pulse returns to normal, the veterinarian records the cat's systolic blood pressure. The oscillometric measurement technique also involves the use of a cuff, which detects oscillations in pressure due to pulses from the artery. The oscillometric technique is reasonably accurate in determining a cat's systolic blood pressure.

Visiting the Veterinarian

If you suspect that your cat is suffering from hypertension or hypotension, visit your veterinarian. The underlying cause of the condition will be determined first, and then a treatment regimen can begin. Many medications, including diuretics and beta blockers, may be prescribed for felines with hypertension. Cats with hypotension may be treated with fluid therapy to increase their cardiac output and vascular volume, according to the Animal Specialty and Emergency Center in Los Angeles, California. Once your cat begins his treatment regimen, be sure to have his blood pressure checked once every three months and report to your veterinarian with any new symptoms or concerns.