Thyroid Disease in Cats

A thyroid disease may refer to either hypo or hyperthyroidism, which are conditions of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland has 2 lobes, which are responsible for producing the thyroid hormones. These hormones are essential for the cat’s metabolism. Older cats are more at risk of developing a thyroid condition.

Thyroid Disease in Felines

A thyroid disease may affect felines and will manifest through a high production of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) or an impaired production of these hormones, which indicates that the cat is affected by hypothyroidism. These hormones are important in the metabolism of the pet and when there is a deficit or an excess of these hormones, the cat will either lose weight or gain weight. Felines are more exposed to developing hypothyroidism.

Feline Hypothyroidism

Feline hypothyroidism typically occurs after the age of 5, but in some cats, it may manifest earlier. The low production of thyroid hormones may be due to:

  • A tumor or a different type of growth located on either of the thyroid gland lobes
  • An atrophy of the thyroid gland
  • An autoimmune disease that results in the production of certain antibodies that hinder the normal activity of the thyroid gland

The cat requires a normal production of T3 and T4 hormones to have a regular metabolic rate. If there is a lack of sufficient thyroid hormones in the cat’s system, all organs may be potentially affected. You may notice symptoms such as:

  • The cat gains fat in a short amount of time, without actually eating more
  • Reduced appetite
  • The muscles can turn into fat
  • Poor coat and fur condition
  • Alopecia
  • Decreased pulse and heart beat
  • Increased levels of cholesterol
  • Scaly skin, which may present certain hyperpigmented spots

Some blood tests can indicate if the thyroid hormone levels are lower than usual. The normal levels of thyroid hormones will depend on the breed and the age of the cat.

Once detected, hypothyroidism in cats may be managed with various types of treatment. Medication treatment is recommended if the hormone production is close to normal. The main caveat of this treatment is that it will not cure the pet and will have to be administered for life. Radioiodine treatment may be applied and may have permanent results, but there are a few risks that are associated with this type of treatment. Alternative treatments can also be used in the management of feline hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that manifests through a high level of thyroid hormones and is less often seen in cats. Certain breeds are more exposed to this condition. Growths on the thyroid gland may also be causing hyperthyroidism. The cat will display a few symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss, despite the fact that the cat eats more than usually
  • Acne
  • Agitation and irritability

The condition can be fully treated if 1 lobe of the thyroid gland is surgically removed or if the cat receives radiation treatment. Medication treatment may also be applied in the pet.