Occasionally, cats can experience an overactive thyroid gland that can cause a number of conditions and accompanying symptoms, some of which can be serious. Here, our Nashua vets discuss the purpose of the thyroid gland, what symptoms appear when it's overactive and what type of diet can benefit cats with hyperthyroidism.
The Effect of Hyperthyroidism on Cats
Hyperthyroidism in cats happens when their thyroid gland begins to overproduce hormones, usually once they are well into their senior years. Unfortunately, when the thyroid gland creates more of the hormone than is needed it can begin to have an adverse effect on the heart and other organs of your feline friend.
One of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism in cats is non-cancerous tumors while these can occasionally turn out to be cancer.
If you notice that your cat is showing any of the signs of hyperthyroidism you should reach out to your vet to have them examined right away. When diagnosed and treated early your cat will have a better chance of living comfortably.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
The typical symptoms that are experienced by cats suffering from hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight Loss
- Increased Thirst
- Increased Urination
- Vomiting / Diarrhea
- Restlessness / Hyperactivity
- Aggressive Behavior
- Difficulty Breathing
- Greasy / Matted Hair
Treating Hyperthyroidism in Cats
There are a number of different options for hyperthyroidism in cats treatment including
Medication for hyperthyroidism in cats: With this treatment, you will need to give your cat an anti-thyroid medication that works to decrease the production of the thyroid hormone. Your cat will need to be given this medication twice daily for the remainder of their life.
Radioactive iodine therapy: Treating hyperthyroidism in cats with iodine therapy includes the injection of iodine directly into their body so that it enters the bloodstream. This radioactive iodine will make its way through the body, destroying any abnormal cells it comes into contact with. You can expect results usually in as little as a few weeks.
Surgical treatment for hyperthyroidism in cats: One of the potential options for treating hyperthyroidism in cats is surgical intervention. Your vet would surgically remove the thyroid which eliminates the need for daily medications. Your vet would need to complete diagnostics before surgery to ensure that your cat can safely undergo anesthesia during the procedure.
Treating Hyperthyroidism with dietary changes: Your vet may also suggest making changes to your cat's diet in order to alter the amount of iodine in their diet which might have an effect on their thyroid. This type of treatment is still a relatively new option and you should consult your vet before making any changes.
What food should I feed my cat if they have hyperthyroidism?
The diet recommended for cats with hyperthyroidism includes a specific amount of iodine. Iodine intake is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, so the goal of an iodine-restricted therapeutic diet is to help reduce the production of thyroid hormones by reducing iodine in your cat's diet.
Strict adherence to the low-iodine hyperthyroid diet is necessary for cats with this condition. Along with feeding your cat a prescription food, you will need to strictly monitor your cat's treats, and prevent your cat from hunting for their own meal while outside.
Some studies show that after three weeks of following a prescription hyperthyroidism diet, levels of thyroid hormones begin to decrease, and within a few months, they may even return to normal levels.
If you'd like to learn more about what makes up a hyperthyroidism diet for cats, don't hesitate to speak with the attending vet.
The Prognosis for Cats with Hyperthyroidism
Thankfully, the prognosis for cats with hyperthyroidism is quite good. Especially if their condition has been diagnosed early. Regardless of the type of treatment that your vet recommends you can expect your cat to bounce back and live a happy and healthy life as long as you continue to bring them in for regular checkups and stay on top of managing their condition.
The Potential Complications of Untreated Hyperthyroidism
As with most conditions, leaving hyperthyroidism untreated can lead to serious complications. Your cat will become more ill over time. You may notice symptoms such as blood in their stool and they may not eat very much which can lead to other issues.
Many cats that are suffering from untreated hyperthyroidism experience potentially fatal heart issues due to their heart working extra hard to keep your cat's body running.
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.