Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


As a cat ages and changes its behavior, hormones may be going haywire. The suspicion of an overactive thyroid gland is obvious. The vet should examine and treat the cat to prevent complications. So your cat still has a good life ahead of him despite an overactive thyroid.

But what exactly is an overactive thyroid in cats? The thyroid gland in cats is located in the neck, just like in humans. The organ consists of two lobes that attach to the trachea. The thyroid produces hormones that affect overall metabolism and energy expenditure.

If the thyroid produces too many hormones, you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Too much hormones make the cells in the organs work too fast. This can damage the organs. Affected are mostly older cats from the age of eight, explains the “Uelzen insurance“.

Cat lies on sofa and is sad
Photo: pixabay.com/yairventuraf (Symbolfoto)

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid can manifest itself differently in different cats. The animals are more active than they normally would be. Some cats are even persistent restless or nervous. Some are irritable or even aggressive.

In addition, increased appetite, weight loss or even diarrhea and vomiting are common. As well as increased drinking and increased urination. It is also possible that your cat gets an unkempt coat or hairless patches if it suffers from an overactive thyroid.

“If cat owners notice one or more of the symptoms mentioned, they should take the cat to the vet as soon as possible. Because the first signs are not immediately noticeable. The disease can therefore exist for a certain period of time. In order to prevent secondary diseases, treatment should be initiated quickly,” says Dorothea Spitzer, veterinarian at “Uelzener Versicherung”. “Without treatment, the affected cats would become increasingly ill.”

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The vet examines the cat’s blood for the hormone thyroxine (T4). If the concentration of this hormone is increased, the diagnosis is clear: the cat is suffering from an overactive thyroid gland. Since an increased concentration of T4 has a harmful effect on the organs, these should also be examined more closely. This is done by means of urine, X-ray and ultrasound examinations as well as a further and more comprehensive analysis of the blood.

An ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism in cats.
Photo: Uelzen Insurance

Causes of hyperthyroidism in cats

The good news: a malignant tumor is the cause of hyperthyroidism in only two percent of cats. In all other cases, benign tissue growths on one or both thyroid lobes are responsible for the hyperthyroidism.

Treat hyperthyroidism properly

There are two common methods of treating hyperthyroidism in cats: lifelong administration of tablets or radioiodine therapy, which is carried out once. While the tablets reduce hormone production, radioiodine therapy destroys thyroid cells so that these cells can no longer produce hormones. Both methods are effective and allow the cat to continue living a good life. Your vet will decide which method makes more sense on a case-by-case basis.

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