Overactive Thyroid in Cats

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Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism is a common glandular disorder found in cats. The cause of an overactive thyroid is an excessive amount of thyroxine circulating in the body. The thyroid hormone is popularly known as T4 in the bloodstream. Increased appetite and loss of weight are common clinical signs in cats afflicted with this condition. About 98 percent of hyperthyroid cats suffer from weight loss. A hearty appetite is observed in 81 percent. The list of other symptoms includes excessive thirst, unkempt appearance, diarrhea, a rise in urination, panting, and increased shedding.

Signs and diagnosis

About 50 percent of hyperthyroidism affected cats suffer from vomiting. The clinical signs are results of rising T4 on the different organ systems. This disorder can strike any breed of cat, and both the sexes.  A vast majority of those afflicted cats are older, with this disorder rarely observed in young kittens. The median age when hyperthyroidism affects a cat ranges between 12 years to 13 years. Only rarely does this happen to cats below six years of age.

Diagnosing hyperthyroidism can be a little hard as the disorder shares many symptoms with other diseases like chronic kidney failure, diabetes, and intestinal cancer.  No wonder your veterinarian would battery test your kitty. A urinalysis, CBC, and a chemistry panel will not help to diagnose hyperthyroidism fully, but will enable your veterinarian to cross off kidney failure and diabetes from the list. Although cats suffer from hyperthyroid would get normal urinalysis and CBC findings, the chemistry panel frequently exhibits a rise of a number of liver enzymes. Definitive diagnosis in most cases is made through a simple test done by extracting the blood. If the T4 levels are high, then the cat inevitably suffers from hyperthyroidism. There is a problem though: about 10 percent of cats suffering from hyperthyroidism will have normal T4 levels.

Complications and treatment

The T4 levels can fluctuate in and out of the cat’s normal range. Another problem is that any concurrent illness may suppress the higher T4 levels, and push them into the normal range. In older cats, concurrent diseases are, and an inexperienced veterinarian could be fooled into thinking that the cat suffering from hyperthyroidism may not have the disease at all. For hyperthyroid cats, many treatments are there. Each procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. The most common treatment is oral medication Methimazole. It has for a long time been a vital drug therapy for hyperthyroidism affected felines. It is incredibly effective but comes with some unpleasant side effects. Alternatively, you can opt for the thyroid gland to be removed. The anesthesia, however, could be a problem for older cats. The most effective and safest treatment is the radioactive iodine therapy. No surgery is needed.

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