The proper functioning of your cat's body relies significantly on its hormonal balance. If the thyroid is not functioning correctly, it can adversely affect your cat's well-being. Our vets in Babcock Ranch discuss the repercussions of hyperthyroidism on your cat and explore how adjusting their diet could potentially assist in symptom management.
Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Like humans, cats possess thyroid glands in the neck responsible for producing vital hormones. These hormones regulate various bodily processes and oversee your cat's metabolic rate. An imbalance in hormone production, whether excessive or insufficient, can lead to symptoms of either hypothyroidism (low hormone levels) or hyperthyroidism (excessive hormone levels).
In instances of hyperthyroidism, a cat generates an excess of hormones, causing a significant acceleration in metabolism. Consequently, your cat may burn energy accelerated, resulting in weight loss, even if you observe an increased food intake compared to their usual consumption.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Hyperthyroidism can impact cats across various breeds and age groups, although it tends to be more frequently diagnosed in older felines. Typically, this condition manifests in cats aged around 12 or 13, affecting both males and females.
Similar to many health conditions, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats tend to worsen gradually over time. Additionally, other underlying health issues can either complicate or conceal the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Therefore, it is crucial to consult your veterinarian at the earliest sign of any symptoms outlined below. If your cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism, it may display one or several of the following symptoms:
- Increase in thirst
- Mild diarrhea and vomiting
- Increase in heart rate
- Poor grooming habits
- Hearty or increased appetite
- Low heat tolerance
If you notice that your cat is panting, it might indicate that it is already experiencing an advanced stage of the condition. Although most cats suffering from hyperthyroidism have a good appetite and are restless, others may feel weak, lethargic, or experience a lack of appetite.
Potential Causes of Hyperthyroidism in Cats
In the majority of feline cases, hyperthyroidism stems from the presence of a benign tumor situated on the thyroid gland. Nonetheless, there have been infrequent instances wherein the tumor has undergone mutation, leading to the development of thyroid cancer.
Implications of Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Untreated hyperthyroidism in cats can lead to severe complications, particularly impacting the feline's cardiac function and potentially culminating in heart failure.
In addition to cardiac issues, hyperthyroidism may induce elevated blood pressure in cats. Although this occurrence is less frequent, feline hypertension is associated with significant health risks, including potential damage to the brain, kidneys, heart, and eyes. If your cat is diagnosed with hypertension alongside hyperthyroidism, medication becomes essential for blood pressure regulation.
Furthermore, older cats often experience a simultaneous onset of hyperthyroidism and kidney disease. The coexistence of these conditions necessitates vigilant monitoring and management, as the treatment of hyperthyroidism can occasionally exert adverse effects on kidney function.
Diagnosing Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Diagnosing hyperthyroidism in older cats poses a certain level of complexity. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination and assess your cat's neck area through palpation, searching for indications of an enlarged thyroid gland. At Animal Hospital at Babcock, our veterinarian's internal medicine relies on diagnostic tests to identify your pet's condition effectively and deliver advanced care.
Given the overlapping clinical symptoms of various conditions with hyperthyroidism, a range of tests may be employed to pinpoint your cat's specific condition. A comprehensive assessment, including a complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, and chemistry panel, aids in ruling out potential issues such as kidney failure and diabetes. While a straightforward blood test revealing elevated T4 levels in the bloodstream can be conclusive for diagnosis, your veterinarian may also assess your feline companion's blood pressure or conduct additional examinations such as an electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, or ultrasound.
Treatment Options for Your Cat
There are a number of different treatment options available for cats with hyperthyroidism. They may include:
- Radioactive iodine therapy (likely the safest and most effective treatment option)
- Antithyroid medication
- Surgery to remove the thyroid
- Modified diet
Diet For Cats With Hyperthyroidism
Cat hyperthyroidism can be effectively managed through a prescribed diet with restricted iodine, overseen by your veterinarian. Since iodine is essential for synthesizing thyroid hormones, this therapeutic diet aims to curtail thyroid hormone production by minimizing iodine intake in your cat's food.
Adhering strictly to the low-iodine diet is imperative for the success of hyperthyroidism treatment in cats. This may present a challenge for some pet owners and their feline companions. In addition to providing your cat with the prescribed food, meticulously monitoring treats and preventing outdoor hunting for meals are crucial components of the management plan.
Research indicates that after three weeks of consistent adherence to the prescribed hyperthyroidism diet, there is a notable decline in thyroid hormone levels. Within a few months, these levels may even return to normal, underscoring the efficacy of the prescribed regimen.
Outlook for Cats With Hyperthyroidism
The outlook is typically favorable when cat hyperthyroidism is identified and addressed promptly. However, complications with other organs may exacerbate the prognosis in instances where the condition has progressed significantly.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.