Julia's Midsussex Times Weekly Column

High blood pressure can blind your cat, unless they are treated immediately

“Quick! We need to see the Vet straight away! Socks has gone blind!” Not a phrase you want to hear, but Socks’ owner was told to bring him straight to me.

In that same month I had had two cats seek my help for the same problem. Lily, an attractivetortoiseshell, had seemed perfectly normal when her family retired for the night.

They came down the next morning and noticed that Lily seemed to have lost her sight. Assuming nothing could be done for her, they left it, finally deciding to seek my assistance a week later.

But later the same month, we got the call about Socks and rushed him straight in to the Clinic. He was a cranky black and white soul, for whom co-operation was tricky. He had been losing a bit of weight, and perhaps was drinking a little more, but what had brought his owners rushing in that day was that he had suddenly started bumping into things around the home that morning.

In both cases I was able to recognise that the cats had experienced detachment of the retina - the light sensitive inner lining of their eyeballs. I took their blood pressures, and a blood sample from them both. They were both suffering from the early signs of kidney disease, which are quite manageable, but the problem with the kidneys had caused their blood pressures to become abnormally high. This hypertension in their blood streams had resulted in the retina effectively just blowing off.

As Socks’ problem was very recent I was able to confidently predict a return of his sight within days by prescribing tablets to bring down his blood pressure. He learnt to accept these tablets (somewhat against his principles!) and began to receive supportive care for his kidneys. He went on to live for many comfortable, sighted years.

Lily was not so lucky. After 7 days of floating free from their moorings her retinae were no longer able to re-attach themselves where they belonged. Her sight was totally – and permanently - lost. Her family and I were forced to reluctantly make the decision to let her go, as she was not adapting at all well to her new disability and seemed distressed. Pets that gradually lose their sight over months often adapt to their new circumstances, but this had been too sudden.

So now I have many conversations with owners of older cats, coaching them that if ever their little pet seems to have suddenly lost their sight they are to bring them to me the same day, as miracles are definitely possible

14th February 2018