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Posted on 03-04-2015
March will be dedicated to Hyperthyroid awareness!!
Hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine (hormone related) disease in cats. As many as 10-15% of cats will develop this disease sometime in their lifetime. Luckily, this disease is generally very easy to control in feline patients.
The thyroid gland is an organ that lies just below the larynx (voice box). Cats have a single, bi-lobed thyroid gland that is roughly shaped like a butterfly that rests on the trachea (windpipe). The thyroid gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormone which is important for many processes that affect metabolism.
In cats, hyperthyroidism is caused by a tumor of the thyroid gland. Generally (greater than 98% of the time), these tumors are classified as functional adenomas of the thyroid gland. An adenoma is a growth of abnormal cells that is NOT cancer, and therefore benign. In the normal thyroid gland, thyroid hormone is produced only when thyroid stimulating hormone is produced in the brain in response to low thyroid hormone concentrations. In cats with hyperthyroidism, the tumor is producing thyroid hormone without any direction from the brain. This excess hormone production leads to many problems with many of the body’s organ systems.
Cats affected by hyperthyroidism almost always lose weight despite eating well. Increased thyroid hormone concentrations will increase the metabolic rate of almost all cells in the body. The heart will beat more quickly and with greater force. Blood flow to the organs and muscles will increase and energy utilization will quickly rise. This greater demand for energy makes affected cats lose large amounts of weight and they eat more in the attempts to maintain their original weight. Many cats will also increase their water intake and will use the litter box more. Increased anxiety, vomiting, diarrhea, more or less attention seeking, urinating or defecating outside of the litter box, increased vocalizations (especially at night), and poorly cared for hair and skin are other clinical signs that owners often notice.
Feline Hyperthyroidism is usually easily diagnosed. Most affected cats will have signs noticed by their owners, obvious abnormalities with their blood work and high levels of thyroid hormone in their blood. Among other things a total T4 test will be ordered by your veterinarian to measure the thyroid hormone in your cat’s blood. Sometimes further testing is needed to confirm the presence of the disease. Your doctor will discuss these options if necessary.
There are many treatment options for hyperthyroidism.
Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, kidney damage and even blindness. Luckily, at Elm Creek Animal Hospital, screening for hyperthyroidism is part of every senior health screen for aging cats. This disease is rarely left untreated in cats who maintain their regular check-ups with their doctor at Elm Creek.
If you have any questions or concerns about hyperthyroidism or your cat’s health, please contact Elm Creek Animal Hospital today!
Well, all the symptoms add up and I'm pretty sure that our cat has hypothyroidism. She's quite wild all the time and gets pretty ferocious when she plays. Also, she meows all through the night and hardly sleep, comparing to cat standards. I hope we can solve her problem through a good diet, I don't think I could afford to get Radioiodine therapy for her. http://www.mybaysidevet.com
This is really interesting. I wonder if my cat had this problem before he passed away. He was a really old man, so I'm sure he had quite a few issues. He lost a ton of weight the last year he was alive even though his eating habits didn't change. http://www.robertirelandvm.com/
Thank you so much for sharing more about hyperthyroidism in cats. I have been hearing more about this and I am concerned that my cat may have this disease. She has been losing weight for quite some time, even though she has been eating a lot more. She also has been acting a bit strangely and seems to not be caring for her fur very well. I should probably go get this checked out soon so that we can get the tumor removed if necessary. Thanks for the great post! http://www.windsorvet.com