Statistics show that 10% of cats over ten years old are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. As a cat owner, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and treatment options for this condition. Besides, no matter how old your cat is, it’s always safe to know the signs of illness so you can get them to the vet for treatment as soon as possible.
What Is Hyperthyroidism in Cats?
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine, a hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism. Cats typically have two thyroid glands on each side of the neck. In some cases, one of the glands may become enlarged and produce too much hormone. This condition is most common in older cats but can occur in cats of any age.
There are various reasons for this overproduction, but the most common cause is a benign tumor on the gland. The condition can also result from autoimmune disease or thyroid gland inflammation.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Cats
The most common symptom of hyperthyroidism in cats is weight loss, even if they eat more than usual. You may also notice that your cat is drinking more water and urinating more often than normal. Other symptoms include:
- Increased appetite
- Restlessness or hyperactivity
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive shedding
- Muscle wasting
Diagnosing Hyperthyroidism in Cats
The first step in diagnosing hyperthyroidism is a physical examination by a veterinary radiologist. They will feel your cat’s thyroid gland to see if it is enlarged and check their heart rate and breathing.
They may also recommend blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels and rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. Find out more here about feline hyperthyroidism diagnosis.
Treatment Options for Hyperthyroidism in Cats
The most common cat hyperthyroidism treatment is medication. Only one drug is approved by the FDA, which is methimazole – an oral medication that helps reduce hormone production.
Other treatment options for hyperthyroidism in cats include surgery and radioactive iodine therapy. Surgery is usually only recommended if the tumor is small and localized. Radioactive iodine therapy is considered the best long-term treatment option, but it’s not available in all areas.
Caring for a Cat with Hyperthyroidism
If your cat is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you should closely monitor their symptoms and weight. The goal is to keep them as comfortable as possible and prevent further weight loss.
You also need to give them their medication as prescribed by the vet. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully and contact your vet if you have any questions or concerns.
Moreover, choosing a vet clinic is vital to your pet’s wellness, especially when they’re suffering from hyperthyroidism. Make sure to find one with specialists and complete facilities and diagnostic tests, including whole body pet scan, for a more thorough examination, precise diagnosis, and better treatment options for your beloved cat.
Preventing Hyperthyroidism in Cats
There is no sure way to prevent hyperthyroidism in cats, but early detection is key. This is why taking your cat for regular check-ups is essential, especially as they get older. Your vet can detect any signs of the condition and recommend treatment options before it becomes severe.
Here are other ways to prevent feline hyperthyroidism:
- Keep your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations to help reduce the risk of developing autoimmune thyroiditis, which is one of the possible causes of hyperthyroidism.
- Feed your cat a healthy diet and keep them at a healthy weight. Obesity can lead to thyroid gland inflammation, which can trigger hyperthyroidism.
- Limit your cat’s exposure to environmental toxins, such as herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products. These chemicals can cause thyroid problems.
- Do not give your over-the-counter human medications without first talking to your vet. Some human medications may trigger hyperthyroidism in cats.
- If you think your cat may have hyperthyroidism, contact your vet immediately for an appointment. With early diagnosis and treatment, most cats can live a long and happy life despite this condition.