The Effect of Hyperthyroidism on Cats
Hyperthyroidism in cats occurs when their thyroid gland begins to overproduce hormones, typically once they have reached their senior years. Unfortunately, when the thyroid gland creates an excessive amount of hormones, this can begin to affect your feline companion's heart and other organs negatively.
Non-cancerous and cancerous tumors are two of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism in cats. If you notice that your cat id displaying any signs of hyperthyroidism, we recommend contacting your primary veterinarian to book an appointment for an examination. Your veterinarian may refer you to VRCC if required. If this condition is diagnosed and treated early, your cat will have a higher chance of living a long, comfortable life.
Common Signs & Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Cats suffering from hyperthyroidism may experience several symptoms, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased thirst
- Greasy/matted hair
- Weight loss
- Aggressive behavior
- Increased urination
Treating Hyperthyroidism in Cats
There are many treatment options for hyperthyroidism in cats, including:
Medication - Your veterinarian or veterinary specialist may prescribe an anti-thyroid medication that's designed to decrease the production of the thyroid hormone. You'll need to administer this medication daily for the rest of your cat's life.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy - Iodine therapy treatments involve injecting iodine directly into your cat's body so that it enters the bloodstream. The radioactive iodine will spread throughout the body, destroying any abnormal cells it interacts with. You can expect to see results in as little as a few weeks.
Surgical Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in Cats - One of the potential options for treating hyperthyroidism in cats is surgical intervention. Your vet would surgically remove the thyroid which eliminates the need for daily medications. Your vet would need to complete diagnostics before surgery to ensure that your cat can safely undergo anesthesia during the procedure.
Treating Hyperthyroidism with Dietary Changes - Your vet may also suggest making changes to your cat's diet to alter the amount of iodine in their diet which might affect their thyroid. This type of treatment is still a relatively new option and you should consult your vet before making any changes.
What food should I feed my cat if they have hyperthyroidism?
The diet recommended for cats with hyperthyroidism includes a specific amount of iodine. Iodine intake is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, so the goal of an iodine-restricted therapeutic diet is to help reduce the production of thyroid hormones by reducing iodine in your cat's diet.
Strict adherence to the low-iodine hyperthyroid diet is necessary for cats with this condition. Along with feeding your cat a prescription food, you will need to strictly monitor your cat's treats, and prevent your cat from hunting for their meal while outside.
Some studies show that after three weeks of following a prescription hyperthyroidism diet, levels of thyroid hormones begin to decrease, and within a few months, they may even return to normal levels.
If you'd like to learn more about what makes up a hyperthyroidism diet for cats, don't hesitate to speak with the attending vet.
The Prognosis for Cats with Hyperthyroidism
Thankfully, the prognosis for cats with hyperthyroidism is quite good. Especially if their condition has been diagnosed early. Regardless of the type of treatment that your vet recommends you can expect your cat to bounce back and live a happy and healthy life as long as you continue to bring them in for regular checkups and stay on top of managing their condition.
The Potential Complications of Untreated Hyperthyroidism
As with most conditions, leaving hyperthyroidism untreated can lead to serious complications. Your cat will become more ill over time. You may notice symptoms such as blood in their stool and they may not eat very much which can lead to other issues.
Many cats that are suffering from untreated hyperthyroidism experience potentially fatal heart issues due to their heart working extra hard to keep your cat's body running.