Feline Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure, or hypotension, in cats may occur for various reasons including trauma, kidney problems or no reason at all. A cat’s normal blood pressure is between 80 to 90 systolic and 160 to 170 diastolic. If the values are below 80 to 90 systolic, the cat has hypotension. 

Causes of Low Blood Pressure

A low blood pressure in cats may have no cause. Just like humans may have a higher or lower blood pressure for no apparent reason, cats can also have hypo or hypertension.

Common caused of low blood pressure can include:

  • Trauma or shock
  • Excessive blood loss
  • Medication side effects
  • Kidney problems or kidney failure
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Heart disease; if the heart walls have lost their elasticity and are no longer able to pump the necessary amount of blood to the other organs
  • Anaphylactic shock; can occur in pets that are allergic to a substance or an insect bite
  • Dehydration

Symptoms of Hypotension

A cat with hypotension will also display symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden collapse or fainting
  • Nausea
  • Superficial breathing
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Pale gums
  • Confusion and lack of coordination, if the blood pressure is very decreased
  • Depression
  • Lack of activity and lack of interest in activities

Not all these symptoms may be present and sometimes these symptoms may be too subtle to be noticed.

Diagnosing Low Blood Pressure

Given that the symptoms may not always alarm a cat owner to consult the vet, low blood pressure is discovered most of the times during a routine visit to the vet.

If you notice fainting and excessive thirst and urination, you should let the vet know. Low blood pressure can be detected through the use of a sensor that will measure the blood pressure of the pet. The test measures the pressure of the cat’s blood against the blood vessel walls. Any value below 80 to 90 systolic will be considered hypotension.

The vet will also check the vital organs to see if these have been affected by the low blood pressure. If your vet suspects any underlying disease, he will perform some additional tests.

Treatment for Feline Hypotension

The treatment for low blood pressure should be administered as soon as the condition is detected, as hypotension can cause organ failure. The blood brings oxygen and nutrients to all the vital organs and when there is not enough oxygen in the organs, they can be damaged or fail completely. Cats with undetected hypotension may get heart disease and liver or renal failure.

The medication for hypotension will focus on treating the underlying medical condition. If the cat has lost blood, the vet will administer blood transfusions. Fluid therapy will be needed for dehydrated cats; any medication that causes low blood pressure should be discontinued. A cat with low blood pressure should also be closely monitored, to see if the treatment will alter the blood pressure.