Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

Hyperthyroidism in cats
8 November 2023

Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

Feline hyperthyroidism is a common disease that affects older cats, with the average age of diagnosis occurring around 13 years old. With an estimated 10% of older cats being diagnosed with thyroid problems, we’re going to take a look at what it means for a cat to be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and what treatment options are available to help. 

What is Hyperthyroidism in Cats?

Hyperthyroidism (also called thyrotoxicosis or an over-active thyroid) is the most common hormone disease to occur in senior cats, which is caused by an increase in thyroid hormone production. This itself is often the result of an enlargement of the thyroid glands on one or both sides of your cat’s windpipe because of a non-cancerous (but sometimes cancerous) tumour. 

This can have a severe impact on your cat’s health and well-being as the thyroid glands are responsible for the hormones that regulate your cat’s metabolism, and an over-active or underactive thyroid greatly impacts the rest of your cat’s organs.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Due to the thyroid’s job of maintaining your cat’s metabolism, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be broad and overlap with other conditions. The most common symptoms include: 

  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst and/or appetite appetite
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Poor or unkempt coat quality 
  •  Frequent urination and urination outside of litter trays

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s essential you have your cat examined by your vet. Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed via a blood sample to check your cat’s hormone levels, which can also help your vet to rule out any other health conditions.

Hyperthyroidism Causes

There is no official cause for thyroid problems in cats. However, there have been some possible connections drawn between feline hyperthyroidism and an excess of certain compounds or over-exposure to thyroid-disrupting chemicals in your cat’s diet or environment. 

Can Hyperthyroidism be Cured?

In some instances, hyperthyroidism can be cured with a treatment called Radioactive Iodine Therapy, which is generally considered the best option. Another treatment for hyperthyroidism in cats is surgery, which can be risky as cats afflicted with this disease are rarely in good enough health for the procedure and will still require daily hormone treatments afterwards or daily medications, which can be stressful for your cat and do not cure the disease, only manages the symptoms. 

What Can I Give My Cat for Thyroid Problems?

As well as the treatment recommended by your vet, there are steps you can take at home to help manage your cat’s hyperthyroidism, including changes to their diet and lifestyle. 

The key thing to look for in cat foods for hyperthyroidism is controlled iodine levels, such as the Hill's™ PRESCRIPTION DIET™ y/d Thyroid Care Cat Food, as this is what your cat’s thyroid needs to produce the necessary hormones. However, you should only make changes to your cat’s diet after a professional diagnosis and consultation with your vet.

While this sounds simple in practice, in order to manage hyperthyroidism with diet, you need to ensure your cat only eats their condition-specific cat food and nothing else. This can be problematic if your cat is allowed outdoors, as you can’t monitor what they eat while out of the house. 

Can a Cat Live with Thyroid Problems?

Absolutely! With the right combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ins with a vet to manage their condition, cats with hyperthyroidism can continue to live happy lives. 

However, it’s important to remember that hyperthyroidism can make your cat more prone to other conditions throughout their body that can greatly affect their quality of life. This is why frequent vet visits and tests are essential for any cat diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

Managing a cat with a lifelong condition can be taxing both emotionally and financially, which is why it’s important to save money where you can. By buying your cat’s prescriptions online from us, you could save up to 76% on repeat prescription costs, giving you the peace of mind to give them all the love they need.

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This post is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.