How to Detect & Treat Hyperthyroidism in Your Cat

Posted on: 12 March 2015

Just like humans, cats can also suffer from hyperthyroidism, which can cause a wide range of health problems. Hyperthyroidism is characterized as a glandular disease where your cat's circulating levels of thyroxine hormone are present in excess amounts in the cat's bloodstream. It's important to be able to recognize the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in your cat and offer the appropriate treatment to maintain your cat's health over the years.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is the most frequent glandular disorder that cats experience, meaning it's especially important to watch out for the signs of this disorder in your cat. One of the most common symptoms is serious weight loss coupled with increased appetite. If you notice these two symptoms, you should definitely schedule a visit with your veterinarian. However, there are other symptoms your cat can experience due to hyperthyroidism, including:

  • Panting
  • Increased shedding
  • Vomiting and panting
  • Frequent urination
  • Hyperactive behavior and mood swings
  • Excessive thirst
  • Urinating outside the litter box

Hyperthyroidism is not really associated with any one particular breed, and all cats are generally susceptible to this glandular disorder. However, age can play a large role, with older cats far more likely to experience hyperthyroidism than younger cats.

Diagnosing Your Cat's Hyperthyroidism

Often, your cat's hyperthyroidism can be confused with other diseases and conditions, such as kidney failure, diabetes, and certain cancers. You will need a veterinarian to perform a chemistry panel, a urinalysis and test your cat's blood for thyroid levels and elevated liver enzymes for a clear diagnosis and to rule out other potential diseases. You may have to have your cat tested more than once, as thyroid hormones can fluctuate wildly during the day, meaning that one test may not be enough.

Treating Your Cat's Hyperthyroidism

There are several options for treating your cat's hyperthyroidism, including anti-thyroid medication. This medication can help alleviate your cat's hyperthyroidism, but some cats will also suffer side effects, such as lethargy, vomiting, blood clotting, and serious liver problems. Your cat will be required to take this medication for the rest of its life.

Radioactive iodine therapy is also highly effective. Your vet will inject radioactive iodine into your cat's body, which will concentrate in your cat's thyroid gland and help kill off hyperactive thyroid tissue. It's often more expensive than other treatment options, but can help provide a longer term cure without daily giving your cat daily medication.

If your cat is suffering from a tumor in its thyroid gland, your vet may also opt to remove your cat's thyroid gland or only the tumor.

With the above information, you should better be able to detect and treat your cat if it's suffering from hyperthyroidism. Speak with your vet about the best treatment option based on your cat's age and specific type of hyperthyroidism.