Cats Living With Hypothyroidism
As a pet owner, maintaining a treatment plan with an animal that has a chronic condition can be difficult and daunting. If your cat has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism that is not transitory and requires prescribed medication to control, then you will need to make a shift in your life to accommodate their health condition. In many cases, your cat will need to take a dose of medication each day for the rest of his life, will need a regular blood test to check thyroid levels, and may require a diet change to help control symptoms. This can dramatically shift your daily routine and requires a conscientious approach to successfully treat your cat for hypothyroidism long-term.
It is also important to note that you should not introduce new foods or medications to your cat without consulting with your veterinarian first. It can be tempting to try a new herbal remedy or medication that someone you know had success with when treating their cat for hypothyroidism, but it may interact with his current prescription drugs in an adverse way. Switching medications or trying an herbal remedy is only one example of a situation in which you need to consult with your veterinarian, another important facet of your catâs health to consult with your veterinarian about is their diet and any modifications you plan to make.
Surgically Removing The Thyroid Gland
Surgical removal of the diseased thyroid gland is another potential treatment. Like I131 treatment, surgical treatment is curative, but these cats also must be monitored afterward for hypothyroidism.
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is best performed when only one thyroid gland is affected, as removal of both can possibly lead to hypothyroidism. Another complication that can occur after surgical removal of the affected thyroid gland is the successive hyperactivity of the remaining thyroid gland.
Recognizing And Confirming Feline Hyperthyroidism
Heather L. Kvitko-White, DVM, DACVIMdvm360
In most cats, hyperthyroidism is a relatively straightforward diagnosis, but some cases require a more extensive workup, including measurement of the complete thyroid hormone panel.
Hyperthyroidism is one of the most prevalent geriatric feline diseases, affecting 1 in 10 cats.1
First documented in 1979, hyperthyroidism has grown from a disease once unrecognizable to a condition screened for in routine wellness monitoring. The availability of the total thyroxine test on feline panels has allowed for earlier diagnosis such that the disease may now be confirmed before the first clinical sign.
Also Check: How To Make Your Thyroid Active
What Do Vets Find When They Physically Examine A Cat With Hyperthyroidism
As well as noting that their patient is an older, bright, thin cat, there are three specific signs that vets look out for when examining a suspected case.
Causes Of Hypothyroidism In Cats
Because of how rarely hypothyroidism occurs in cats, there is no significant understanding as to how and why hypothyroidism develops in some cats. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in cats is as a result of treatment for hyperthyroidism. When a cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism, their thyroid gland overproduces levothyroxine, causing the metabolism to function on overdrive. Hyperthyroidism can cause cats to display symptoms of diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, vomiting, hyperactivity, weight loss, and increased appetite. To correct this condition, veterinarians utilize one of three main treatment options: oral medication, radioactive iodine therapy, or surgery.
Hypothyroidism in cats most often occurs after a cat has received surgery or radioactive iodine therapy to treat hyperthyroidism. During the surgery, which is called a bilateral thyroidectomy, the overactive thyroid glands or the thyroid adenoma is removed. During the radioactive iodine therapy, radioactive iodine is injected into the cat and concentrated within the thyroid gland, where it irradiates and destroys the hyperactive tissue. While both of these methods of treatment are useful for curing hyperthyroidism, in some cases cats can develop hypothyroidism as a side effect of the treatment.
You May Like: Thyroid Cancer Spread To Lymph Nodes Survival Rate
Treatment Of Feline Hyperthyroidism
If you suspect that you are facing an imbalance of the thyroid hormone in cats, take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible!
Typically, a blood test is sufficient to make a diagnosis. However, as thyroid hormone levels fluctuate, sometimes the results are inconclusive and it is necessary to repeat the test. Sometimes the increase in the size of the thyroid is even detectable by touch.
Depending on each particular case, the treatment may be of three different types. The veterinarian will decide which is the most appropriate:
- Oral medication keeps the problem on the sidelines but does not cure it. Therefore, it is a lifelong treatment.
- Surgery, which just roots with the problem.
- Treatment with radioactive iodine, increasingly used and very effective.
If your cat has hyperthyroidism, its not your fault! It is a disease that can not be prevented. Just take care of your cat as much as possible always, whether it is sick or not.
Can Hypothyroidism In Cats Be Treated
For many cat’s with hypothyroidism no treatment is necessary. That said, if your pet’s symptoms are severe your vet may prescribe synthetic hormone supplements, and schedule followup blood tests to monitor your kitty’s overall health and hormone levels. A modified diet containing reduced fat may also be recommended for your cat while they are recovering from hypothyroidism.
Typically cats recover well from hypothyroidism, with a notable improvement in their health seen in a short period of time.
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.
Is your cat in need of urgent veterinary care? Visit our emergency animal hospital in Tuscon any time you need urgent care for your pet outside of your regular vet’s hours. Has your cat been diagnosed with a serious medical issue that requires specialized care? Contact our Tucson specialty vets today to book a consultation.
You May Like: Breast Cancer Metastasis To Thyroid
Life Expectancy Of Cats With Hyperthyroidism
Cats with a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism can live happily for many years with appropriate management and lifelong monitoring. Seeking veterinary advice early can be very beneficial, so that your cat can receive treatment before they lose too much weight or suffer from the effects on their vital organs. Some vet clinics offer annual blood tests for senior cats these tend to include screening for conditions that are common in this age group and can help with early detection of hyperthyroidism.
What Causes Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Nobody knows what causes hyperthyroidism, but the following factors have been noted as possible risk factors:
- Use of cat litter.
- Eating a diet consisting of more than 50% canned food.
- Eating a fish-based, canned food diet.
*Flea treatments have been ruled out as a contributing factor
The excessive thyroid hormone is produced by abnormal thyroid tissue: technically, it is described as functional adenomatous thyroid hyperplasia or thyroid adenomas.
In laymans terms, this is often described as a benign tumour: it is not malignant or cancerous, and it will not spread to elsewhere in the body.
In around 70% of cases, both thyroid glands are affected, with 30% affecting just one gland only. Malignant cancer of the thyroid gland is rare in cats its known as thyroid carcinoma and it causes only 1-2% of cases of hyperthyroidism.
Recommended Reading: Armour Thyroid Manufacturer Coupon 2022
What Are The Clinical Signs Of Feline Hyperthyroidism
The typical clinical signs of hyperthyroidism in cats include increased appetite, increased drinking and progressive weight loss. Affected cats are also often reported to be overactive and can sometimes become progressively more aggressive. Less frequently, cats can show the opposite clinical signs to this and become very quiet and lethargic. Other common signs include an increased frequency of vomiting and development of diarrhoea.
When examining your cat, your vet may identify an enlarged thyroid gland by feeling up and down his or her neck. The presence of such a sign is known as a goitre. Hyperthyroid cats typically also have a very high heart rate and some show dangerously increased blood pressure.
What Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Hyperthyroidism occurs when there is an elevated level of thyroid hormone produced by one or both of the thyroid glands in a cat.
It is an astonishingly common problem in cats: its seen more than any other cat hormone problem, and in one recent study of cats over the age of ten being blood sampled, 21% had elevated thyroid hormones. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 13 years.
You May Like: Signs You Have Thyroid Cancer
Hypothyroidism In Cats Faqs
Is hypothyroidism fatal in cats?
Acquired hypothyroidism, which affects adult cats, is rarely fatal. However, hypothyroidism can lower the kidney glomerular filtration rate, which is a measure of how well your cats kidneys are working to filter waste.
If a cat has chronic renal disease in addition to hypothyroidism, the combined effect of these factors can lead to severe azotemia or renal failure, which is fatal in cats.
Congenital hypothyroidism, which is present at birth, can be fatal in kittens.
How long can cats live with hypothyroidism?
Kittens with congenital hypothyroidism have an unknown prognosis. As this is a rare disease for cats, not much research exists for survival rates. Individual kitten survival depends on the severity of changes in their skeleton and nervous system.
Adult cats with acquired hypothyroidism have a good prognosis with management of their disease and can achieve a nearly normal life expectancy.
Is hypothyroidism in cats painful?
The side effects of untreated hypothyroidism can be painful.
In kittens with congenital hypothyroidism, pain and discomfort can arise from the lameness associated with the illness.
Discomfort for adult cats with untreated acquired hypothyroidism can arise from the following:
Inflammation from excessive weight gain or abnormal skin barriers
Dehydration from lowered kidney function or chronic renal disease
Buildup of toxins in the bloodstream
Weakness and a general feeling of being unwell
Dramatic Increase In Appetite
It’s common for older cats to have changes in appetite anyway, but cats suffering from thyroid cancer are likely to have dramatic increases in appetite. You may notice that your pet consumes all of his food as well as the food of other cats in your home. He may try to eat human food and may even be seen attempting to open up cupboards to get access to additional food as well. The reason for this is that the thyroid cancer oftentimes prompts an overproduction of certain thyroid hormones that help to control appetite.
Along with an increase in appetite, you may quickly see an increase in your pet’s weight as well. This can cause a variety of health problems in and of itself, thereby giving you even more of a reason to eliminate your pet’s cancer as quickly as possible. Notably, however, some cats experience weight loss as a result of thyroid cancer.
Don’t Miss: Why Did I Get Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid Cancer And Panting
Unlike dogs, cats do not regularly pant. If you notice your pet panting at all, it is a sign that something is seriously the matter with his health. Cats suffering from thyroid cancer will tend to pant, although this symptom is not enough for a conclusive diagnosis in and of itself.
If you notice these or any other symptoms that you think may suggest that your pet has thyroid cancer, take him in to the vet immediately. The vet will begin with a thorough physical examination and will continue with a set of blood samples and exams. He may even request a biopsy to be performed in order to conclusively diagnose the condition. The sooner that you’re able to diagnose your pet’s thyroid cancer, the better the odds are that you’ll be able to treat your pet fully.
Feline Hypothyroidism Is A Very Complex Disorder
You may have heard people commonly say things such as ‘Cats are so simple. All you need to do is leave them food, water, and a litter box”. For the most part, yes with a healthy cat that would be true when coupled with some TLC. However, there is a rare but serious condition that affects several cats worldwide. This is called Feline Hypothyroidism.
Endocrine disorders such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism symptoms of hypothyroidism in women are often not deadly and are treatable. Both of these ailments are the result of a thyroid condition found most commonly in older cats. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Feline Hypothyroidism is a very complex disorder and is often in most cases very challenging to diagnose. Your vet will need a thorough medical history of your cat along with documentation logging of any hypothyroid symptom. It would be a good idea to keep a journal and you may even want to title it hypothyroidism cat’s symptoms and turn this information over to your veterinarian. Along with detailed records there are also clinical tests that can be conducted by your vet. Some of these tests include Complete blood count ,, Urinalysis, as well as chest and abdomen X-Rays in some cases. Your vet may also conduct other tests to rule out other disorders.
Read Also: Foods That Are Good For Your Thyroid Function
What Are The Clinical Signs Of Hyperthyroidism
The typical cat with hyperthyroidism is middle aged or older the average age of affected cats is approximately 12 years. Only about 5% of hyperthyroid cats are younger than 10 years of age.
The most common clinical sign of hyperthyroidism is weight loss due to the increased rate of metabolism despite an increased appetite. Affected cats are often restless, and may become cranky or aggressive. They may have increased water consumption and urination. It is also common for hyperthyroid cats to exhibit increased vocalizing, particularly at night. They may develop periodic vomiting or diarrhea, and fur may appear unkempt. In some cats, anorexia develops as the disease progresses.
Two secondary complications of hyperthyroidism can be significant hypertension and a particular form of heart disease called thyrotoxic cardiomyopathy. Hypertension develops due to the increased pumping pressure and elevated heart rate that occurs with thyrotoxic cardiomyopathy. About 25% of cats with hyperthyroidism become hypertensive. In some cats, blood pressure can become so high that retinal bleeding or retinal detachment will occur, resulting in sudden blindness.
“Both cardiomyopathy and hypertension are potentially reversible with appropriate treatment of the disease.”
Whats The Recovery For Cats With Hyperthyroidism
Typically, your kitty can get back to normal if he or she stays on daily medication.
It depends on your cat, so lets chat about it at your next visit.
Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.
This article is intended to provide general guidance on hyperthyroidism in cats. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian.
Read Also: Blood Test For Thyroid Levels
Are There Any Complications Associated With Feline Hyperthyroidism
As well as the clinical signs listed above, long term hyperthyroidism can also have severe consequences internally. The most important of these is the development of hyperthyroidism-associated heart disease as a result of the consistently high heart rate. If severe, specific treatment to support the heart may also be required.
A proportion of cats with hyperthyroidism will also have significantly increased blood pressure. In cats, the result of this can include damage to the kidneys, eyes, brain and heart, therefore, if detected, treatment for high blood pressure may be required alongside other medication if this does not resolve with treatment of the hyperthyroidism.
Treatment Failures Of Hyperthyroidism In Cats
More than 9 in 10 cats respond well to recommended treatment, although it wont always work well for everyone.
If medication isnt working for your cat, it may just mean trying the alternative tablet. Any of the other management options discussed can be explored, even if hormone levels havent been stabilised. If your cat is not responding to treatment for hyperthyroidism, they will require extra monitoring from your vet.
The main reason surgery may not be successful is due to both glands being affected. In rare cases, there may be abnormal thyroid tissue inside the chest, and its not normally possible to diagnose this before both glands have been removed. Abnormal thyroid tissue can be controlled by any of the other treatments quite successfully, or your cat can be referred for specialist surgery.
Radioactive iodine is successful in more than 95% of cases. It will also target any part of the body that is producing thyroid hormones and can be used after surgery if required for ectopic thyroid tissue. Very occasionally, a second treatment will be required to get the full effect.
Don’t Miss: Can Thyroid Cancer Cause Pain In Back Of Neck