A cat's thyroid gland, which is located in the neck, releases hormones that control nearly all of the animal’s organs and functions. When cats get older, sometimes the thyroid glands enlarge and produce more thyroid hormones than necessary, causing problems with the animal’s heart and other organs. A veterinarian can diagnose and treat hyperthyroidism in many cases.
Signs of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is mostly a disease of older cats, seen most commonly in animals age 10 or older. Usually, the enlarged thyroid gland is caused by a benign, or noncancerous, tumor called an adenoma. This condition is rarely caused by a malignant tumor, called an adenocarcinoma. Your veterinarian may be able to feel one of the enlarged lobes of the thyroid gland when you bring in your cat for an appointment. Seek your veterinarian's help if your cat displays the following signs:
- Weight loss despite an increased appetite
- Increased restlessness
- Change in behavior, such as crankiness
- Occasional weakness or difficulty breathing
- Faster heart rate
- Increased thirst and urination
- Change in coat
If enlarged glands cannot be detected by the veterinarian, he or she may recommend blood tests. These tests show whether your cat has high levels of the hormone T4 in its blood, a sure indication of hyperthyroidism.
Treatment Options for Hyperthyroidism
The veterinarian will also carefully check your cat’s organ function to determine whether hyperthyroidism has caused any damage to the cat's heart, kidneys, or other organs. It's important to assess your cat's overall health before deciding on treatment. The veterinarian might recommend a daily medication that can reduce the overproduction of thyroid hormones; this medicine doesn't cure the disease but will keep it in check.
Surgery or radioactive-iodine therapy can cure hyperthyroidism with high success. Your veterinarian will discuss the various treatment options with you, taking into consideration your cat's health, the disease’s severity, and your wishes.
The Vet House has an in-house lab and facilities for medical and surgical care of your cat or dog. Call us today at (972) 690-8741 if your cat shows signs of hyperthyroidism or you have questions about your pet’s health.