Hyperthyroidism in Older Cats

Many elderly cats suffer from the effects of an overactive thyroid gland. This little gland can be found at the front of your cat’s neck, and the hormones it produces are responsible for regulating many aspects of his body’s metabolism.

hyperthyroidism in cats

Signs of Hyperthyroidism in Cats

When too much hormone is produced, the result is an accelerated metabolism. You’ll notice that your cat is always harassing you for food, and is eating much more than usual. However, he is still losing weight. He may show behavioral changes such as meowing all the time, and passing feces in strange places. Some cat owners have no idea that their old friend has a problem until he starts defecating in the pot plants!

These symptoms are eventually enough of a problem that a visit to the veterinarian is in order. Your cat will then be found to have an extremely high heart rate and high blood pressure, which is also a characteristic of this disease. At this point, your vet will have a good idea of what is going on, and will recommend blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. The blood test will show an increased amount of thyroid hormone in your cat’s blood.

Treating an Overactive Thyroid Gland

The cause of this condition in your older cat is usually a benign tumor of the thyroid gland. If it isn’t treated, it can result in heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and death.

There are several ways this disease can be managed. Your vet will help you choose the best treatment for your cat based on his health and your family budget.

1. The thyroid gland tumor can be removed. This can result in a permanent cure but it can lead to its own set of problems. If it is necessary to remove the whole gland, then you’ll need to give your cat a thyroid hormone supplement for the rest of his life. There can also be problems with calcium metabolism after the surgery and of course, a general anesthetic in an elderly cat carries its own risks.

2. Your cat can be given medication to control the disease. He will need to take these tablets daily for the rest of his life. If he doesn’t like taking pills, then the medication is available as a gel that is applied to the skin inside his ear.

3. Treatment with radioactive iodine will destroy the abnormal thyroid gland and leave the remainder of the gland untouched. This usually results in a cure, but in some cases, another treatment is needed.

There’s no need for your cat to suffer the effects of hyperthyroidism. Treatment is available that will allow him to lead a normal life, without any symptoms of his disease.

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