Being a cat owner and an ardent pet lover, the questions that come to our mind related to cat hyperthyroidism are
- At what age does a cat have hyperthyroidism?
- How to I know that my cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism?
- Is there any way I can avoid or prevent my cat from hyperthyroidism?
- Has feline hyperthyroidism got anything to do with my cat’s diet plan?
- If diagnosed, what are the treatment methods for feline hyperthyroidism?
- Is there any effective natural solution for feline hyperthyroidism?
- If left unidentified and untreated, what are the consequences of feline hyperthyroidism?
Why am I writing about Feline Hyperthyroidism is because of a real incident I had.
My neighbor had a cat named Jiggs. Jiggs was a frequent visitor to my home also. I do feed Jiggs with fish, meat and snacks. I was always amazed at the way Jiggs use to behave with my daughter who was 7 years old. It is as if Jiggs knew my daughter’s school timings and her daily eating patterns. My daughter would have a very light breakfast in the morning which normally includes bread, butter and a glass of milk. She used to take light lunch stuff to school as she is a slow eater. She wanted to finish her lunch fast and play with her friends during lunch break. When she comes home in the evening, I do feed her properly as that is the only time she talks to me about her school activities and eat leisurely. I used to provide fish, meat or chicken stuff along with rice or chapatti during this meal of hers. Though Jiggs visit our home as and when he feels like, he would be at home during my daughter’s evening meal time and my daughter used to feed him with whatever she eats. But Jiggs had his preferences and will eat only when he feels like. I think Jiggs visit home to be with my daughter as she used to play with him. Normally Jiggs will not walk outside his home when it is dark.
I don’t know exactly what the age of Jiggs is, but I started noticing the changes in Jiggs’ behavior as well as his appearance. Jiggs started looking thin. He started eating whatever we give him and at times vomits also. I thought it might be because Jiggs was also growing and his hunger might have increased. And vomiting, I considered it as indigestion of food. When I discussed this with my neighbor, he had also noticed this. This made him take Jiggs to a vet where he was diagnosed with feline hyperthyroidism and the treatment started.
Now this incidence made me think of all the questions given in the beginning of this article. I would be happy to share my Vet’s answers to these questions.
Feline Hyperthyroidism is a common glandular disorder seen usually in middle-aged or older cats. It is found in cats at the age of 10 or above. Hyperthyroidism is the increased production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid glands situated in the neck.
The signs and symptoms of feline hyperthyroidism are many and it differs from cat to cat. But the most common signs include weight loss, increased appetite or increased intake of food, increased thirst, restlessness, irritability, untidy hair coat, vomiting and/or diarrhea, increased heart rate and unusual panting which is uncommon in cats.
Feline Hyperthyroidism is due to the increased production of a hormone called thyroxine or T-4 that regulates all body processes in cats. A balanced diet which provides good metabolic activities for your cat can help in regulating the production of thyroid hormones in your cat. 9 out of 10 cats diagnosed with hyperthyroidism are 10 or more years older and is the most common hormone abnormality in cats.
As the proverb ‘Anything too much is always bad’. Proper hyperthyroidism diet plan can help the cats to have an easy life.
- Cat diet should include meat as it provides taurine supplement, natural source of beta-carotene (less than 10% of cat’s meal), yin tonifying meats to strengthen yin and cool the body and go for herbal natural therapies than allopathic medications.
- Avoid seafood, salty food or chlorinated water as it can unbalance the thyroid gland due to the presence of iodine.
- Avoid grains, sugar and carbohydrates as these foods stimulate the nervous system into over-activity.
Feline hyperthyroidism treatment methods are Anti-thyroid drug therapy, Surgical Thyroidectomy, Radioactive Iodine Therapy and Dietary Treatment. Though every treatment has its advantages and disadvantages, dietary treatment is a natural way of feline hyperthyroidism treatment where the cats are fed on a special diet that has very strictly controlled levels of iodine.
As specified in point no.5, the best and effective natural treatment is dietary treatment where controlled levels of iodine is included in the diet which is just sufficient for normal levels of thyroxine or T-4 hormone production by the thyroid glands.
The potential complications of hyperthyroidism in cats are hypertension which can cause damage to eyes, kidneys, heart and brain, major heart problem which is increased heart rate that eventually cause heart failure and kidney disease which is not a direct effect of hyperthyroidism but seen commonly in older cats.
Jiggs was suffering from the starting stages of hyperthyroidism and was given a dietary treatment which controlled all his behavior problems. Jiggs died at the age of 16 and till then was such a cute and lovely cat and he still stays in our thoughts.