Does Your Cat Have a Thyroid Problem?
by Hal E. Ott, D.V.M.
Cats are living longer. When a cat reaches the age of 8 years in good health, routine visits to the veterinarian are simply to update immunizations, check weight and clean teeth. However, when your kitty reaches middle age, it is now at risk for a serious disease common in older felines-hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid disease now surpasses diabetes mellitus as the most frequent endocrine disorder in cats. Left untreated, the remarkable speedup in metabolism may cause the kitty's heart to beat 300 times a minute. According to Cat Fancy magazine, "Cats with this disease are like shooting stars - blazing in activity until they burn themselves out!" In fact, untreated feline hyperthyroidism is a silent killer- relentlessly exhausting the cat until it suffers a premature death from heart disease. Although this ailment is not rare, many cat owners, and even some veterinarians, simply aren't aware of the prevalence. Up to 20% of cats between the ages of 8-18 years are suffering from this condition and most veterinarians see one or two cats each month with this disease.
The signs of the disease are subtle, a blood test is the best way to confirm the diagnosis. When the cat makes too much thyroid hormone, it becomes more energetic and all metabolic processes race faster. Despite a suddenly ravenous appetite, the poor cat loses more and more weight. Owners report their cat follows them to the kitchen begging for extra food-any kind of food! They start to feed their cat several times a day. And the sick cat becomes thirstier and makes more frequent visits to the litter pan. Continuing weight loss, an unkempt hair coat, and diarrhea finally convince the owner to take the cat to the veterinarian. A physical examination shows a racing heart, muscle wasting and sometimes an enlarged thyroid gland. Lab tests reveal abnormally high concentrations of thyroid hormones in the blood.
The good news is that this ailment can be treated three ways:
The surgical procedure removes one or both lobes of the thyroid gland. However, the stress of surgery can be hazardous for older cats, and there is always the possibility of complications and recurrent disease. Medicine, the second option, must be given every day for the rest of the cat's life. The medicine (Tapazole) is not without serious side effects. Some cats simply cannot tolerate the drug. The best solution is the one used by 90% of human patients with this disease-radioactive iodine therapy. Radioactive iodine is more than a treatment-it is a cure. One shot is effective and the shot is given without anesthesia. The radioactive kitty is hospitalized in a licensed facility for two to three days while the radioactivity clears from its body. Then it goes home to a happier and healthier life. I131 has always been the best choice, but was unavailable except in a few veterinary medicine schools spread across the country.
The good news is that this cure is now available nearby at the Cat Thyroid Center in Ruskin. Our facility is dedicated to the treatment of thyroid disease in cats. At the Cat Thyroid Center, we specialize in personalized customer service and clinical excellence. Strictly a referral service, we rely on your veterinarian to take care of your cat before and after I131 treatment. Opened in February 1998, we successfully treated more than 60 cats from all around Florida in our first year. If you need help for a cat with hyperthyroidism check our web page at http://www.catconnection.com, or call us for more information. 813.641.3425