Feline Hyperthyroidism

Feline Hyperthyroidism is known to be the most common hormonal condition of older cats.  Hyperthyroidism is caused by the overproduction of hormones from the thyroid gland.  The primary function of the thyroid gland is to secrete thyroid hormones, which are responsible for controlling the body's metabolism.

This condition usually arises as a result of a benign growth of the gland, but in some rare instances it can be caused by a malignant cancer of the thyroid gland.

It usually affects older cats, usually older than 10 years. As with all diseases, there is most likely a genetic predisposition to develop this condition. There may be other risk factors that predispose cats to developing the condition. One of the most common theories is that certain types of food may be contributed to this condition. It is believed that some of these diets are deficient in iodine which forces the thyroid gland to start increasing activity. This is not conclusive and, as in other diseases, there are probably many factors involved, including a GENETIC PREDISPOSITION.

Symptoms of Feline Hyperthyroidism

  • The most common symptom of feline hyperthyroidism in cats is weight loss despite increased or normal appetite.
  • Later on they tend to lose their appetite.
  • They may become hyperactive, restless or irritable.
  • They may show signs of gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and occasionally diarrhoea, and may increase frequency of urination or water intake.
  • Some cats have neurological symptoms such as seizures or have a sudden stroke leading to brain damage.
  • Blindness, in one or both eyes, may occur suddenly or over a period of weeks.
  • Sometimes the hyperthyroidism maybe associated with hypertension, kidney disease and heart disease.


How to diagnose feline hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism in cats is diagnosed by sending a blood sample to the lab to measure thyroid hormone. Occasionally, cats with hyperthyroidism may have normal thyroid levels. This may be due to an unrelated condition such or illness caused by feline hyperthyroidism. We then, either do other tests or re-test after the illness is under control. Sometimes a nodule or tumour can be felt in the thyroid region.

Treatment of feline hyperthyroidism

Once diagnosis is confirmed treatment can begin. There are a few treatment options, these include :

  • oral hormone blockers,
  • surgical removal of the gland or
  • using a prescription food that is low in iodine.
  • Overseas radioactive iodine is sometimes used to destroy the thyroid gland.
  • These cats will then need thyroid supplementation.

With treatment, most cats can maintain a good quality of life.

Dr Larry Kraitzick B.V.Sc
Bruma Lake Veterinary Clinic (Find Dr Larry on Facebook)

Dr Larry KraitzickQualified in 1990 with Bachelor of Veterinary of Science from Onderstepoort Veterinary Faculty.
In 1991 he ran a welfare clinic in Alexander Township. He went to the United Kingdom to register as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1992 and began working at Yeoville Veterinary Clinic, which he took ownership of in 1993. Whilst running Yeoville Veterinary Clinic Dr Kraitzick  collaborated with Dr Leo Reinecke (Human Radiotherapy Specialist)  in treating selected pet cancer Patients with Chemotherapy.
He started Bruma Lake Vet Clinic in Johannesburg in 2002.  He travelled to the USA in 2013 to learn about the value of client communication and education using Media  with the emphasis on Electronic and Social Media. In October 2014 he started The Old Folk Pet Support Group and was part of a group who intervened to prevent senior residents of Tweedy Park (a government housing project on the East Rand) from being forced to get rid their pets.
Dr Kraitzick is married with two sons, three cats and a dog.



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