Hyperthyroidism In Cats – Banfield Pet Hospital®

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What is Feline Hyperthyroidism?
Feline Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common endocrine disorders that affects cats over the age of 10. In fact, of the cats over age 10 Banfield saw in 2014, more than 1 in 15 had hyperthyroidism. With prevalence numbers like that, it's critical for cat owners to understand this disease and what it could mean to their pets. Hyperthyroidism occurs when there's an overproduction of a hormone produced by the thyroid gland (located in the throat region near the voice box). This hormone's main function is to set your cat's metabolic rate at the right pace.
How do cats get hyperthyroidism?
Feline Hyperthyroidism in cats usually stems from the development of a benign tumor in the thyroid gland, which is primarily made up of thyroid cells. An increase in cells creates an increase in the secretion of the thyroid hormone, which can lead to an overactive metabolism.
What does this mean for cats? If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause heart failure, kidney disease and increased blood pressure. That's why it's important to be on the lookout for the following signs, which could indicate a problem with the thyroid.
Signs of  thyroid disease in cats:
  • Weight loss with a good or increased appetite
  • Restlessness (increased activity and vocalization)
  • Increased urine production
  • Increased food and water consumption
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Unkempt or greasy appearance to the coat and fur
  • Panting or labored breathing
  • A desire to seek out cooler places and/or avoid heat
  • Increased heart rate or heart murmur (commonly found during physical examination)
Diagnosing and treating Feline Hyperthyroidism
Feline Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by measuring the level of thyroid hormone in the blood. There are currently four common ways to treat hyperthyroidism in cats.
These types of feline thyroid treatment include:
  • treatment with radioactive iodine (injection)
  • surgical removal of the affected glands
  • treatment with anti-thyroid medication
  • nutritional therapy through a specially formulated diet
All treatment requires repeat testing of the thyroid hormone level to monitor results and to see if therapy needs to be modified. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of each treatment option with your family and local veterinarian, as they have both advantages and disadvantages.
For more information on hyperthyroidism, please refer to our Hyperthyroidism Handout.
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