Hyperthyroidism in cats is an endocrine disease in which there is an overproduction of thyroid hormones. The increased hormone concentration has an effect on many metabolic processes as well as on the behavior of the cat. With the right feeding you can support the treatment.
Hyperthyroidism In Cats – Cause And Symptoms
Hyperthyroidism is also known as hyperthyroidism. In cats, it is considered the most common endocrine disorder and is most often diagnosed in cats of advanced age (eight years and older) and is a common diagnosis with 9% prevalence.
In hyperthyroidism, your cat experiences uncontrolled production of the thyroid hormones T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These hormones enter the bloodstream and influence numerous body processes in cats. As a cause, nodules are found in one or both lobes of the thyroid gland in cats. In most cases, these are adenomas, benign tumors that autonomously produce thyroid hormones, which are usually well treated with medication or surgery. In very rare cases, it can also be a carcinoma (malignant tumor). In this case, the chances of cure are rather poor. Even if all therapy methods are used, the disease usually comes back.
In healthy cats, the hormone production of the thyroid gland is subject to a feedback mechanism. A high thyroid hormone concentration is registered by the body and higher-level centers in the brain signal the thyroid to reduce hormone production. Conversely, too low a concentration will trigger the production of hormones in the thyroid gland. In cats with thyroid adenomas, this control loop has no effect. The adenomas function autonomously and continuously produce hormones that are released into the bloodstream.
Why hyperthyroidism develops in cats is not yet well understood. Reports exist linking the occurrence of hyperthyroidism in cats to the feeding of canned food. However, it is not clear whether contaminants from the metallic can coating that get into the food and into the cat’s body when eaten are responsible, or the iodine content of the food. Likewise, there is a theory that toxins from the environment may lead to the formation of the adenomas.
Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism In Cats
The increased concentration of thyroid hormones in hyperthyroidism affects numerous metabolic processes and organs. Your cat’s cardiovascular system, digestion, kidney function, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system can all be affected and harmed by untreated hyperthyroidism. Since an uncontrolled release of thyroid hormones affects the entire body, the symptoms are also varied:
- Weight loss with increased appetite at the same time
- increased drinking
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- accelerated breathing
- nervous or aggressive behavior
- palpable thickening of the cat’s neck
- Skin or coat changes
If left untreated, the disease can lead to retinal detachment and blindness, or heart or kidney failure, resulting in the cat’s death.
Treatment Of Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Since it is not yet conclusively clear why hyperthyroidism occurs in cats, prophylaxis is difficult. You can’t prevent hyperthyroidism by feeding a certain diet, for example. The only known risk factor is increased age. If your cat is eight years old or older, you should have it checked regularly by your veterinarian for hyperthyroidism. This is recommended even if there are no clinical symptoms. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the chances of treatment.
Hyperthyroidism in cats is treated with medication, radioiodine therapy, or surgical removal of the autonomous thyroid tissue. In many cases – when it is possible to administer the medication to the cat, good control can be achieved with agents such as carbimazole or methimazole. The medications are available in the form of tablets, liquids or ointments. Even if you choose radioiodine therapy or surgery for your cat, it is a good idea to start with medication first. Hyperthyroidism can mask kidney disease. Whether this is the case will become apparent once control of hormone production is achieved with the medications. Hospitalization is required for radioiodine therapy and surgical removal of thyroid tissue. A cure can be achieved with both methods.
Hyperthyroidism In Cats And Diet
If your cat is treated with medication for hyperthyroidism, he will usually need to receive this therapy for the rest of his life. In consultation with your veterinarian, you can additionally switch to a diet with reduced iodine content to help control the condition. Hill’s y/d, for example, is a food specifically designed for hyperthyroid cats. In addition to reduced iodine content, it also supports kidney health and skin and coat health. It is available as a wet and dry food.
Feeding a special diet makes sense if your cat tolerates a change in diet well and if it is not an outdoor cat that has access to many other food sources. If you own several cats, it is recommended to separate them during feeding so that the healthy cats do not ingest the food. Also, cats that are still developing, as well as pregnant or lactating animals, should not be fed the iodine-reduced food.
Since the excessive thyroid hormones in circulation affect the entire metabolism, the cat’s digestion is also affected if the disease is uncontrolled. Nutrients from the food are not properly broken down and absorbed and are therefore not available to the body. A protein, vitamin and mineral deficiency can occur as a result. The best way to support your cat is to feed it a high-quality, easily digestible food that provides it with sufficient amounts of all the important nutrients. Your veterinarian will recommend appropriate food.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats Treatable With Homeopathy?
Naturopathic methods can always be used in a supportive way, if they help to increase the well-being of the cat. However, as the only therapy, they will not help your cat because they do not inhibit thyroid hormone production.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Thyroid Medication?
Medications for hyperthyroidism in cats are usually well tolerated. Some cats experience mild side effects such as diarrhea or vomiting at the beginning of therapy. Serious side effects such as extensive substance defects of the skin, liver damage and blood value changes can occur, but are very rare. In that case, the drug must be discontinued or switched to another preparation.