High potassium levels, or hyperkalemia, in cats is a serious medical condition because it can prevent the heart from functioning normally. Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, weakness and collapse. The condition is often associated with urinary tract conditions.
If your cat displays any symptoms of hyperkalemia, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Diagnosis of Hyperkalemia and Underlying Conditions
Hyperkalemia is diagnosed with a blood test that reveals high potassium levels. The blood profile may help to diagnose the underlying condition of the disease.
In healthy cats, excess potassium is removed from the bloodstream in the kidneys. Kidney failure may prevent the kidneys from performing this function. Problems in the urinary tract, such as an infection or blockage, that prevent proper elimination of urine and the potassium removed by the kidneys are another possible cause.
Other possible causes of hyperkalemia include:
- High dietary potassium.
- Supplements containing potassium.
Determining the cause of hyperkalemia is critical for effective treatment. Additional diagnostic testing may include:
- Ultrasound of the urinary tract.
- Electrocardiogram to check heart function.
Initial treatment of hyperkalemia is aimed at lowering the blood potassium levels. This can be achieved by administering a 0.9 percent saline solution. Another method to quickly decrease potassium levels is to administer glucose, which causes the potassium to be pushed out of the bloodstream and into the cells. Fluids are given if your cat is dehydrated.
Additional treatment varies based on the underlying cause. Stop administering supplements that contain potassium and switch to a food with lower potassium content. If the cause is a medical condition, such as a urinary tract disease or kidney failure, your vet will determine the best course of treatment based on your cat's condition.