Feline Hyperthyroidism Prognosis

Feline hyperthyroidism is a common condition in senior cats (over 8 years old) although it may occur in younger cats as well. Hyperthyroidism leads to a faster metabolism which consumes the resources of the body. Diagnosed and treated early, hyperthyroidism has a very good prognosis. In some cases, lifelong home care might be necessary, but still cats can live a normal life with hyperthyroidism.

Prognosis of Feline Hyperthyroidism

The prognosis of hyperthyroidism is typically good if the disease is detected in a timely manner. However, the prognosis will also depend on the cause of the disease.

The prognosis will be poor only if the cat has a tumor affecting the thyroid glands leading to hyperthyroidism.

In other cases, the cat can live a normal life, but will require treatment and regular tests to monitor the thyroid levels.

Symptoms of Feline Hyperthyroidism

As there is no method of preventing hyperthyroidism is cats, the only way of avoiding your cat being seriously affected is to notice the symptoms and start treatment as early as possible:

  • Increased appetite
  • Losing weight in spite of the growing appetite. The cat is losing body fat as well as muscle mass due to his faster metabolism
  • The cat becomes restless, hyperactive as the thyroid hormones in excess make him more agitated
  • Increased thirst
  • The cat needs to urinate more often and the quantity of fecal matter is larger
  • The bowel motility is stimulated by the thyroid hormones resulting in diarrhea
  • Regurgitating and vomiting due to overeating
  • Labored breath leading to increased heart rate

Treatment and Prognosis of Feline Hyperthyroidism

Once your cat has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you will need to choose a treatment from the ones available:

  • Tapazole is the most common medication used in cats with hyperthyroidism. This drug does not affect the thyroid gland itself, but the production of hormones. This treatment also helps stabilizing the heart. Should you choose this treatment, your cat will be on medication for the rest of her life, which will be otherwise normal. You will have to take your cat to be monitored periodically and maybe change medication doses depending on the results and the thyroid hormone levels
  • Surgery is preferred when only one of the thyroid lobes is affected.  Commonly, after the removal of one lobe, the other one becomes affected in time. If both lobes have to be removed, the cat will need thyroid hormone supplement for the rest of his life. Also, surgery may be risky and cause damage to the parathyroid glands.
  • Radioactive iodine therapy is a one-time therapy; no anesthesia is necessary and no medication afterward. Its disadvantages are that it is not always available, it is expensive (although the cost of life-long medication will probably be comparable) and it involves hospitalization of the cat for at least 7 to 10 days. In this case, the cat will live a normal life with no medication necessary.