Blood Pressure Monitoring

If your cat suffers from hypertension (high blood pressure), or if they have a related disease where hypertension is a concern, you might want to check their blood pressure at home.

The International Society for Feline Medicine (ISFM) has published some excellent guidelines for monitoring and treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) in cats.

You can read more about hypertension here: http://felinecrf.org/hypertension.htm
Urgent symptoms are here: http://felinecrf.org/hypertension.htm#urgent_symptoms
Other symptoms are here: http://felinecrf.org/hypertension.htm#other_symptoms

For information on measuring blood pressure at home, and different machines that are available to use, read here: http://felinecrf.org/hypertension.htm#bp_equipment_home

I, personally, am using the Contec08A-VET model. I find it works well for all but one of my cats. One of them, Cat, has a problem where the cuff does not maintain pressure appropriately so his readings are wildly inaccurate.

This model, from what I’ve seen on Amazon, comes with a single neonatal cuff included. That cuff is often not listed in the product description, so be sure to contact the seller and ask if the cuff is included before purchasing. If the cuff is not included you will need to purchase a separate neonatal cuff.

This model also requires 4 AA batteries to operate and DOES NOT come with them.

The first real problem I found when I tried taking blood pressures at home is that I didn’t actually know the proper cuff placement or any of the “rules” about whether cats should be sitting, standing, laying down, etc. And, it was surprisingly hard to find clear information online. Eventually I found this short video that explains what to do.

My vet always takes 3 readings in a row, to make sure the numbers are consistent with each other, and suggested that I do the same at home.

If you get 3 high readings in a row, especially if your cat is relaxed, then you need to get your cat to the vet ASAP! I suggest bringing your record of the results you had at home, as well as your machine. While at the vet they can compare the results of your machine to theirs, to make sure yours is functioning properly.

If your cat has high blood pressure that requires medication, you will want to talk to your vet about treating it with Amlodipine. You can read all about why here: http://felinecrf.org/hypertension.htm#amlodipine_best_treatment

Troubleshooting

How do you know if it’s a good reading?

First, check the Heart Rate that the machine reports. One of my own cats had dramatically high pressure readings, but the heart rate listed was only around 85 bpm (beats per minute). That’s much too low for a cat. Cats are normally 140-220 bpm. If your cat’s heart rate is wildly outside that range (and they’re not in a state of coma or panic) then the reading is not accurate.

For the problem I had, where I could not get an accurate reading, my vet suggested using an actual veterinary blood pressure cuff. My vet had a size #1 cuff on hand compatible with my machine, so we tried it and were able to get consistent readings compared with their very expensive machine.

Interestingly, the neonatal cuff I was using and the veterinary cuff have the same size for the limb they can be used on (3-6cm) but the neonatal cuff has a longer “tail” than the veterinary one. My vet believes the longer tail is what caused the readings to fail on my underweight cat.

If you find that the neonatal cuff does not get accurate readings for you, then a vet cuff may do a better job. I have only been able to find one good cuff online, the SunTech Veterinary Blood Pressure Cuff, but it only comes in a set.

You may be able to ask your vet to order a single cuff in the appropriate size for you rather than paying for a lot of cuffs in sizes you will not use

Here’s a video on how to convert SunTech veterinary cuffs to work with the Contec08A-VET machines: