You know I just want to back up before I dive into this whole topic and say that I, probably like you reading this, never in a million years expected to be taking a cat’s blood pressure at home but here we are. I am assuming your furry one has a chronic condition that requires monitoring of your cat’s blood pressure. For us we have now had two cats with chronic kidney disease which as the disease progressed started to affect their blood pressure.
Should You Take Your Cats Blood Pressure at Home?
The short YES! When managing a chronic condition having measurements to track progress is a great tool in managing the disease. It can alert you when your cat’s condition has gone from stable to not. However, you always want to make sure your tools are up to par and giving you accurate information.
We were finding our cat’s vet bills were mounting to high levels with constant checkups and we wanted to be able to reduce costs while still giving our cat the best care. So not only did we start weighing our cat at home but we also started measuring his blood pressure at home too. Every blood pressure reading at the vet’s office ran us $60! When he was going in 4+ times a year for medicine adjustments and bloodwork this really added up fast.
While we didn’t have the money to invest in the official vet measuring tool of a doppler machine in addition to a pediatric cuff or vet designed oscillometric devices we did find a nice alternative of an automatic blood pressure machine from Amazon.
An added bonus for taking at home readings is your cat will be calmer and you will get a more true idea of their blood pressure. Cats just like humans often get nervous at the vet, and their blood pressure readings can jump due to this.
Why Monitor Your Cats Blood Pressure
High blood pressure in your cat can cause very severe issues. Unfortunately, when you start to see signs of high blood pressure it can often be too late and cause permanent damage. If you can stay on top of monitoring their blood pressure at home this can be avoided.
Symptoms of high blood pressure in cats include:
- behavioural changes
- heart murmurs
What is a Cat’s Blood Pressure Supposed to Be?
Keep in mind that cats, normal blood pressure is typically higher than humans. So don’t be alarmed if you first see a reading and think it is too high. According to Cornell University it is ideal to see a reading of 160 mmHg systolic or lower. While 160 mmHg is the max a vet will like to see, the target range for cats is 120-130 mmHg range.
Pet MD has a more complete breakdown of cat blood pressure levels. The standards for cat blood pressure are:
- 150/95 – at this reading or below, there is minimal risk and treatment is not recommended
- 150/99 to 159/95 – intervention is routinely not recommended at these readings
- 160/119 to 179/100 – treatment should be sought to limit the risk of organ damage
- 180/120 – immediate treatment should be sought to limit the degree of other more severe complications
When trying to calculate your cat’s blood pressure five to seven measurements are generally taken. The first measurement will often be discarded.
How to Take Your Cat’s Blood Pressure
First up you will need to invest in a blood pressure machine. We went with this one off of Amazon. It’s an electronic Sphygmomanometer that can measure blood pressure for animals. The device features in full-automatic measurement, high-definition color LCD display and strong visibility. An added plus was the small blood pressure cuff came included and I didn’t need to order it separately.
Calibration for your Cat’s Blood Pressure Monitor
Now that you have your blood pressure machine you will want to check it’s accuracy. We did this by bringing it along with us on a trip to the vet and checking the machine from Amazon against the vet level technology. To everyones amazement it was only 2-3 points off from the readings the vet was getting. Pretty dang close and made us extra happy with our purchase.
Make sure that you are comparing reading from the same location on your cat. More about the reading location options below.
Where to Place the Cat Blood Pressure Cuff
You have several places you can take your cat’s blood pressure reading from. You will want to be consistent in the location you take the readings from if possible.
Second rule of thumb when picking a location is the snugness of the blood pressure cuff. The cuff will need to be snug against their body. This is often what triggers them to want to shake it off so also picking a location where they won’t bite at it is a bonus.
The ideal spot is to place the blood pressure cuff around one of your cat’s front two limbs, between the elbow and upper end of its leg. If you cat is being extra fussy, the base of the tail is another spot to measure blood pressure.
Tips on Getting your Cat’s Blood Pressure Reading
When taking your cat’s reading at home I find it best to catch them in a nap. This means they are calm and less antsy. Expect that your cat is going to be fussy having a blood pressure cuff placed on. Also I recommend some distracting chin scratching because as the cuff inflates it also triggers an unhappy cat.
During the readings if your cat moves too much they will not come out. You need your cat as still as possible which is why I don’t recommend my usual bribery of cat treats. Sometimes an extra set of hands and some extra pets is what helps the best.
Conclusion on Taking your Cat’s Blood Pressure at Home
We found this a great way to take some stress of our cat by avoiding some extra vet trips. This also helped give us peace of mind knowing where his readings were at and if his blood pressure was stable or getting worse. If you are battling a chronic condition like Kidney Disease in Cats I highly recommend getting your own at home blood pressure monitor for cats.