How Common Is Pulmonary Hypertension in Cats? What to Know About Pulmonary Hypertension in Cats and How to Manage It

How Common Is Pulmonary Hypertension in Cats? Photo by Cats Coming:

Pulmonary hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure in the lungs, is a dangerous and potentially fatal disorder that can affect cats of any age, breed, or gender. This article covers more about this illness.

Pulmonary hypertension, also known as high blood pressure in the lungs, is a relatively uncommon but potentially life-threatening condition that can affect cats of any age, breed, or gender. This condition occurs when the blood vessels in the lungs become narrowed or blocked, making it difficult for blood to flow through them properly.

In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for pulmonary hypertension in cats, as well as its recovery process.


Numerous conditions, such as underlying heart or lung illness, infections, inflammation, or blood clots, can result in pulmonary hypertension in cats. The following are a few of the most typical causes of pulmonary hypertension in cats:

  1. Heartworm disease: Heartworm is a parasitic infection that can cause damage to the blood vessels in the lungs, leading to pulmonary hypertension.

  2. Chronic bronchitis: Long-term inflammation in the airways can lead to narrowed blood vessels in the lungs, causing pulmonary hypertension.

  3. Thromboembolism: Blood clots can form in the heart or blood vessels, and if they travel to the lungs, they can block blood flow and cause pulmonary hypertension.

  4. Chronic lung disease: Long-term damage to the lungs can lead to narrowed blood vessels and increased blood pressure in the lungs.

  5. Other underlying diseases: Some cats may have underlying conditions such as hyperthyroidism, which can contribute to the development of pulmonary hypertension.

However, sometimes the cause of pulmonary hypertension in cats is unknown. The best course of action will be recommended by a veterinarian who can identify the underlying reason.


Depending on the severity of the problem and the underlying cause, pulmonary hypertension in cats can present with a variety of symptoms. Typical warning signals to watch out for include:

  • Shortness of breath: Cats with pulmonary hypertension may have difficulty breathing or may pant excessively.

  • Fatigue: Cats may tire easily and have decreased energy levels.

  • Rapid breathing: Cats may take rapid, shallow breaths or have an increased respiratory rate.

  • Blue or pale gums: Because of the lack of oxygen, the cat's gums may turn blue or pale. This is a sign of cyanosis.

  • Collapse: In severe cases, cats may collapse due to the inability to get enough oxygen.

  • Loss of appetite: Cats may lose interest in food or may have difficulty eating due to breathing difficulties.

  • Rapid heartbeat: Cats may have a fast or irregular heartbeat due to the increased pressure on the heart.

  • Coughing: Cats may have a persistent dry or moist cough due to the pressure on the lung vessels.

Some of these symptoms may also be caused by other conditions, so it's important to seek veterinary care if your cat is showing any of these signs. If your cat has pulmonary hypertension, a veterinarian can diagnose it and recommend a course of therapy.


Given that the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension in cats might resemble those of other illnesses, the diagnosis can be difficult. The following diagnostic tests may be performed by a veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension:

  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will examine the cat's heart and lungs, listening for any abnormal sounds or rhythms.

  • Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemistry profile will be done to check for any underlying conditions that may be contributing to hypertension.

  • Chest X-rays: X-rays can help the veterinarian see if there are any changes in the lungs, such as an increased heart size or fluid in the lungs.

  • Echocardiogram: This test uses ultrasound to create a detailed image of the heart, allowing the veterinarian to see if there is any damage to the heart or blood vessels.

  • Pulmonary artery pressure measurement: This test measures the pressure in the pulmonary artery, which will help determine if the cat has hypertension. This test is usually done under general anesthesia.

  • Additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or a blood gas analysis, may also be carried out to acquire more details about the cat's condition.

In some cases, the underlying cause of hypertension can not be determined. A veterinarian will provide the best treatment plan for your cat, taking into consideration the results of the diagnostic tests and the cat's symptoms.

Treatment Options

Treatment for pulmonary hypertension in cats will depend on the underlying cause of the condition, as well as the severity of the symptoms. Some common treatment options include:

  1. Medications: Vasodilators, such as calcium channel blockers, may be prescribed to dilate the blood vessels in the lungs and reduce blood pressure. Diuretics may also be given to reduce fluid in the lungs.

  2. Oxygen therapy: Cats with pulmonary hypertension may require oxygen therapy to help them breathe more easily.

  3. Treating the underlying cause: If an underlying condition such as heartworm disease or chronic bronchitis is found to be the cause of hypertension, the veterinarian will treat the underlying condition as well. This means hypertension medications may be used alongside deworming drugs or bronchitis medications.

  4. Surgery: Surgery could be necessary in some circumstances to get rid of blood clots or to repair or remove damaged blood arteries.

  5. Hospitalization: Critically ill cats may need to be hospitalized for close observation and medical care.

The treatment of pulmonary hypertension can be difficult, and the prognosis for cats with this condition can be guarded. Cats with severe hypertension may have a poor quality of life, and the treatment may not be effective. Therefore, it is important to follow the veterinarian's recommendations and to provide the best care for your cat.

Recovery and Management

The recovery and management process for pulmonary hypertension in cats will depend on the underlying cause of the condition and the severity of the symptoms.

  • Medication: Cats with pulmonary hypertension will likely require lifelong treatment with medications to manage blood pressure and other symptoms. It's important to give the medications as directed by the veterinarian and to monitor your cat for any side effects or changes in symptoms.

  • Oxygen therapy: If oxygen therapy is required, it will typically be administered at home, and your veterinarian will provide instructions on how to use the equipment properly.

  • Diet: Feeding a high-quality diet and providing enough fluids can help to keep your cat healthy.

  • Monitoring: Regular check-ups with the veterinarian are important to monitor the cat's condition and adjust treatment as needed.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Keeping your cat indoors, away from exposure to pollutants and allergens, can help prevent the development of respiratory conditions that can lead to hypertension.

Managing pulmonary hypertension can be difficult, and it's important to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that works best for your cat. Some cats may require long-term hospitalization and intensive care, while others may require only occasional check-ups. Even with the best care, some cats may not respond to treatment and may have a poor prognosis.

Was this article helpful?

You May Also Like

Image for Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heart Disease Symptoms to Watch Out For

Read More
Image for Heart Valve Defects in Cats: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Heart Valve Defects in Cats: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Diagnosing and Managing Feline Heart Valve Defects

Read More