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Feline Hyperthyroidism

I’ll admit I am a crazy cat person. I absolutely love these wacky balls of fur. I have cohabitated with 13 and fostered countless others. There is a rather common illness that “middle-aged” cats can develop and three of mine had… hyperthyroidism. All three of mine first showed symptoms of losing weight but having a wonderful appetite and not grooming themselves like they used to. My one boy also had uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea. However, other cats can become hyper excitable, become extremely talkative and have an increase in thirst and urination. Taking your kitty to the vet is the first step in finding out what is going on with them. A physical exam can allow the vet to make note of their body condition score (which should be 4-5 out of 9), the condition of their coat and if the cat has an enlarged thyroid gland (located in the throat region). Hyperthyroidism can cause problems with the heart as well. The veterinarian will be able to listen for abnormal heart rhythms or sounds or a rapid heart rate. The veterinarian may request bloodwork to confirm if the cat has hyperthyroidism. If the thyroid gland is producing too much T4 hormone, it will show an increase level in their bloodwork. There is the chance that the cat is in the early stages of the illness and shows a normal T4 level – this may require the cat to have a more specialized thyroid test performed. There are a couple different options to treat hyperthyroidism in cats.  Some cats do well on a prescription Hill’s Y/D diet, but the owner must be hyper vigilant to make sure the proper amount of food is being fed and that the cat doesn’t get any other types of foods. Most cats need to take an oral medication that controls the production of the thyroid hormone. Some more severe cases or cats that absolutely cannot be orally medicated can be treated with a radioactive iodine solution which selectively destroys the overactive thyroid tissue. This treatment is done by a specialist. Regardless of which treatment option is used, it is recommended that in 4-6 weeks after the treatment has started, a recheck thyroid test should be checked to make sure the cat’s level is back into the normal range. Once a cat has a stabilized T4 level, annual bloodwork is done to make sure that treatment levels are still working properly. I know hearing your cat has hyperthyroidism can be scary but hopefully after reading this blog, it sounds like a more manageable illness for your kitty friend.

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