Cat Hyperthyroidism Symptoms Explained

Cat hyperthyroidism is more common in senior cats, but may also affect younger felines and causes an excess of thyroid hormones. The thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism and when in excess, the metabolism is hyperactive and the other body functions will accelerate as well. The symptoms of cat hyperthyroidism may range from hyperactivity to kidney and gastrointestinal problems.

Causes of Cat Hyperthyroidism

The endocrine system contains the thyroid gland, which is in charge of producing the thyroid hormones. When an excess of thyroid hormones is produced, the cat will be affected by hyperthyroidism. This may be due to a thyroid gland problem, but may also be due to tumors located in the endocrine system area.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Felines affected by hyperthyroidism will have an increased metabolic function and this will lead to an acceleration of all the other body functions. A cat affected by hyperthyroidism may display different symptoms such as:

  • Excessive sweating through the paws, caused by an excessive secretion of thyroid hormones
  • Increased appetite; the cat may eat more, but will not gain weight, as the metabolism will work faster than usual and this will break up faster the foods; the cat may even lose weight due to the hyperactive metabolism
  • Increased thirst followed by more frequent urination
  • Hyperactivity; the cat may spend more hours awake, may meow excessively
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, due to the hyperactive metabolism
  • The excess of thyroid hormones will lead to an excess of essential oils that are secreted by the skin; the cat may have a greasy coat and this may also cause secondary skin infections and acne
  • Behavioral changes and aggressiveness are also common in felines with hyperthyroidism
  • High blood pressure, as the body requires more blood and oxygen to function
  • Kidney problems
  • Heart murmur or palpitations

Treating Hyperthyroidism in Cats

The symptoms displayed by the cat may also point to other conditions such as diabetes or kidney and liver disease. A vet can establish if the cat is affected by a thyroid hyperfunction.

The treatment will depend on how severe the condition is. There are a few drugs (i.e. Methimazole) that can inhibit the thyroid hormone production.

Radioiodine therapy may also be applied, which is a permanent solution, unlike the medication, which can only manage the condition. The radioiodine therapy destroys the thyroid tissues that are hyperactive.

Surgery can also be applied in more severe cases; the surgery, also known as thyroidectomy will consist of the removal of one or both thyroid glands. The surgery should reestablish a normal thyroid hormone production. If only one thyroid gland is removed, the cat should be supervised, as the remaining thyroid gland may get hyperactive, in attempt to compensate for the removed gland. Post surgery, calcium supplements should be administered to the cat.