Cat Disease: Hyperthyroidism – Part 1

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Dr. Jane Matheys is a veterinarian and blogger for cat insurance provider, Pets Best Insurance.

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise,Idaho. Today I’ll be answering some questions about cat health from questions posted on the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page.

I’ve got several questions here about hyperthyroidism in kitties. The first one is from Marissa and she says:  “My cat is 12-years-old and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She got very lethargic from the anti-thyroid medication, even on a very low dose, so we stopped it. She does not like her y/d thyroid food, and if she does eat it, she vomits. Are there any other options?”

Sharon also has had some similar problems with her kitty as far as not being able to medicate her cat because her cat fights her too much, and her kitty won’t eat that special diet either. Then finally, Sarah also has a kitty that just was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, and her veterinarian is giving her an option between giving the cat anti-thyroid medication or radiation therapy.

So first of all, let’s talk about hyperthyroidism in cats in general.

This is a very common endocrine disease in our senior kitties. Ninety-seven percent of these kitties that have hyperthyroidism, we see it caused by a benign, which means it’s a non-cancerous, tumor in the thyroid gland. This tumor increases the cat’s metabolism that kicks the kitty’s body into high gear, and that puts a lot of stress on all the cat’s body organs.

Usually, what we see is a cat that’s wasting away. The kitty will have an increased appetite, but despite that, the kitty will still be losing weight. Sometimes that increase in appetite is even described as what people call “voracious,” meaning the cats are begging for food, they’re stealing food off the tables or the counters. They’re just eating everything they can find, but they’re still losing weight. That’s kind of the main symptom that we see.

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Other signs can include vomiting. Occasionally, some agitation, restlessness or aggressive-type behavior. Oftentimes these kitties will get heart problems, including heart murmurs. Sometimes we’ll see kidney problems along with it, too. If hyperthyroidism is not treated, eventually it’s fatal. It will kill the kitty-cat.

This is post 1, of a 3 part series. View Cat Disease: Hyperthyroidism – Part 2 here.

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