A cat's thyroid produces hormones that regulate it's body's metabolism. Hyperthyroidism is a common
endocrine disorder most often found in older cats over the age of 10. The term hyperthyroidism means that too much thyroid hormone
is being produced in the feline, usually due to an enlarged thyroid gland. The most common cause of feline hyperthyroidism
is the result of a benign tumor known as an adenoma in the thyroid gland, just the same, it can sometimes be
difficult to determine the exact cause of the hyperthyroid activity. Regardless of the cause, the result can be deadly
when left untreated and cats with untreated feline hyperthyroidism will often eventually die of heart or kidney failure.
Some signs to look for in your cat include weight loss, hyperactivity, increased appetite, excessive thirst and
frequent urination. Vomiting, diarrhea, and heart abnormalities may also be signs of hyperthyroidism. Diagnosis
may include a blood test to measure thyroid hormone levels and to evaluate other body systems.
The body's other functions are often checked because other ailments can show similar symptoms.
There can also be a link between hyperthyroidism, liver, kidney and heart problems at times.
There are a few treatment options including orally dosed daily tablet medication (tapazole or methimazole),
surgical removal of the thyroid or radioactive iodine treatment. The tablet medication option costs less
and does not require invasive procedures or anesthesia, however, should a tumor be present it might continue
growing. Hyperactive thyroid meds such as tapazole and methimazole can also have side effects
including, but not limited to - loss of appetite, lethargy vomiting, liver toxicity and skin disease.
If surgery is determined to be necessary to remove a tumor there may be
certain risks from the surgery and it's outcome is not always 100% predictable. Irradiated Iodine treatment
involves injecting radioactive iodine into the vein to destroy the thyroid tissue. No anesthesia
is necessary, however, it is the most costly of the three treatments and it usually requires special knowledge,
facilities and three to seven days isolated hospitalization until the cat is again safe for human exposure.
Treatment is often determined by whether or not other processes such as kidney functions are working properly,
as well as, heart function, your cat's overall health, your budget and or what risks you are willing to take.
If left untreated, hyperthyroidism in cats can lead to sickness, suffering and even death,
however, with treatment many cats can live an active, happy life for their remaining years. Visit thoroughly with your veterinarian
to determine what may be the cause of your cats hyperthyroid problem and obtain advice regarding what
treatment option may be best for your specific pet.