Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Symptoms & Treatments

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

If your cat is middle-aged or older, it is more likely that he or she may be affected by hyperthyroidism. Here’s what you need to know about hyperthyroidism.

What Is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition caused by an excessive production of thyroid hormones. By the thyroid glands it is a common condition in older cats but is very rarely seeen in dogs.

What Are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?

In cats, the main symptom is usually weight loss. Because hyperthyroidism encourages an over production of thyroid hormone, metabolism speeds up more than ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ. The majority of cats with hyperthyroidism will lose weight, and this will often happen alongside an increased appetite. If your cat is losing weight while still eating normally or more than usual, hyperthyroidism will often be suspected. Other symptoms can include strong thirst, frequent urination, panting, diarrhoea and increased shedding.

How is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed?

Tests will be needed as hyperthyroidism symptoms can be similar to a range of other conditions. Blood work and a urinalysis can rule out some of these, such as kidney failure and diabetes. A blood test measuring T4 levels of thyroid hormone in the blood will show whether this is on the high side. In some pets, this will not necessarily be enough to diagnose hyperthyroidism by itself as some cats who do have the condition will show ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ T4 levels, especially if the condition is in the early stages or if there is another illness that is masking the true situation.

Can Hyperthyroidism Be Treated?

For cats, the outlook is positive unless symptoms are particulary advanced or there are other diseases along side. Most cats with hyperthyroidism will successfully respond to treatment, which will fall into one of these categories:

1) Medication: Oral medication is the most common form of treatment for hyperthyroidism in cats. This is designed to regulate the production of thyroid hormone. Some cats will experience side effects such as appetite loss, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice while taking hyperthyroidism medication. Because oral medication is only intended as a way to manage the condition (rather than act as a cure), it will need to be taken on an on-going basis. This can be a challenge if your cat is not keen on taking tablets.

2) Surgery: This involves the surgical removal of one or both thyroid glands. Because it is deemed to be major surgery, it is higher risk for cats who would not cope with an anaesthetic, especially older cats.

3) Radioactive iodine therapy: This involves an injection under the skin, which focuses in the thyroid gland and destroys the tissue that is at fault. It does not involve surgery or an anaesthetic and is designed as a one-off cure for the condition, but involves a period of isolation whilst radioactive.

[Photo credit: humanesocietyoftheunitedstates]

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  • Leda Schoen

    I have a 17 year old cat, who has developed hyperthyroidism in the last 2-3 years. He is a rescue cat from Uzbekistan, has been always healthy, but he has this problem now. He was prescribed a medicine by the vet. but has difficulties to digest it, if I put it with his meal he will detect it and reject feeding. Followinig homeopathic medicine I have given him Phosphorous x30, two and two a day with his food, and now for the past 2 months Nat.Mur. x30 again twide a day. We don’t want him to undergo an operation, nor receive the Radioactive iodine Therapy..They seem to do more damage than good. Is there anything else I can do or can add? He is a gorgeous cat, always chatting, loving and friendly. He certainly does not behave like a 17 year old.