The Surgical Treatment of Cat Thyroid Problems

The cat thyroid gland is located on either side of the cat's windpipe. It controls endocrine activity. Hyperthyroidism is caused due to an overactive thyroid gland, while hypothyroidism occurs due to decreased production of the thyroid hormone.

Older cats are more susceptible to hyperthyroidism. During the development of hyperthyroidism, the cat will have a benign tumor in the thyroid gland which secretes excess thyroid. The cats' thyroid problems need to be treated as it eventually causes kidney failure which is both dangerous and fatal.

Hypothyroidism is not common in cats and often occurs due to the effects of medication for hyperthyroidism. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are generally noticed in cats over 10 years of age.

Symptoms Include:

  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy and weakness

To detect thyroid problems in your pet, the vet will conduct a blood sample analysis that measures the level of thyroxine (T4) in the blood. The initial treatment for hyperthyroidism is medication. Although the drugs regulate thyroid hormone in your cat's body, it will not cure the disease.

Radioactive iodine therapy is an injection that destroys the malfunctioning parts of the thyroid gland. This injection is administered only once and most cats respond positively to the treatment. The therapy is expensive and many doctors don't have the appropriate facilities to conduct the procedure.

Surgical Treatment for Feline Hyperthyroidism

Surgery for hyperthyroidism in cats is known as a thyroidectomy. The surgery is conducted by most doctors. It requires several days of hospitalization. In addition to this, the surgery is conducted under anesthesia which is known to cause side effects in certain cats. Before the cat is treated for surgery, the thyroid levels are brought to normal with medication. During the surgery, the malfunctioning parts of the thyroid gland are removed. In most cases of feline hyperthyroidism, both glands are abnormal and require removal. After surgery, it's necessary for thyroxin levels to be monitored. Although thyroid surgery is very beneficial to most cats, complications may arise such as damage to the laryngeal nerve and calcium crisis.

In a few cases of cats treated with thyroidectomy, symptoms of hypothyroidism persist either temporarily or permanently. This condition is then monitored with medication such as supplement tablets. Pet owners should consult the vet and discuss the most appropriate treatment option for the cat. The surgery can be quite stressful to the owners and constant post surgery monitoring will be necessary. The benefit of surgical removal of the thyroid gland is its permanent cure, unless accompanied by complexities. Surgery is also more accessible to pet owners in contrast to radioactive iodine therapy.

The true cause of thyroid problems in cats is not certain. The most likely reason is lack of iodine in the cat's diet. Food enriched with iodine may be beneficial to cats with thyroid problems. Although cats with thyroid troubles require plenty of medical help and post operative care, most cats return to normal in just a few months.