Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Great News!
This is a very interesting disease of cats which we see in nearly any age group. The thyroid glands are located in the neck on either side of the windpipe. They act like the choke throttle in a car where they control the body’s metabolism. If they are inactive (hypo-thyroidism), pets are lazy, over weight, have skin problems and greasy coats.
Hyper-active thyroids (hyperthyroidism) make cats act like a car all revved up- ravenous appetite, hyper-active (just like my kids), under weight, often difficult to handle (again like my kids!) and may suffer from heart failure- rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, panting. The heart thickens at the expense of chamber size. This is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
By performing a simple blood test, we can diagnose affected cats and institute therapy to knock-out the thyroid hormones causing all the problems.
Prognosis for Untreated Cases
Left un-treated, hyperthyroid cats run the major risk of high blood pressure and heart failure. With the rapid heart rate, the heart muscles get thicker and thicker- its a bit like a weight lifter doing extra work. This thickening happens at the expense of the chamber (ventricle) sizes, and is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).
The ventricles become smaller and smaller and as a result, can’t fill up with the same volume of blood. Less blood in means less blood out of the heart, and reduced blood supply to the body and its vital organs eg kidneys, liver, heart. Not too good!
Unitl recently, the main treatment involved either:
- Surgical removal of the thyroid glands (I've done quite a few of these)
- Administration of a radio-active iodine containing capsule
- Anti-thyroid tablets 2-3 times a day, or
- Rubbing a specially compounded paste onto the ear for difficult to pill cats (expensive)
NEW Treatment! Hill's y/d tin and dry food for cats
Hill's y/d Diet to the Rescue
It's taken 6 years to get to Australia after its initial launch in the UK, but finally it is here and in stock at BHVG as of Sept 2015.
Hill's y/d diet comes in tin and dry forms and is especially formulated to ensure other possible accompanying illnesses are taken care of e.g. kidney disease, urinary tract infections. It has all the essential nutrients cat require to maintain a healthy body.
Cats need to be fed Hill's y/d and nothing else for it to work. If a cat is already on medication for hyperthyroidism, this needs to stop straight away.
Cats in heart failure receive medications to slow the heart rate down (beta blockers e.g. Inderal, or calcium channel blockers e.g. Tenormin) and sometimes drugs to remove fluid from the lungs (diuretics e.g. Lasix).
Treated cases usually see an improvement in heart function and the removal of heart drugs from the treatment regime at this stage i.e. the heart pathology is reversible.
Precautions with therapy
Blood test are performed before and 24-36 hours after starting therapy to ensure the kidneys can handle having the blood pressure dropped. In some cats, the high blood pressure from hyperthyroidism is keeping their poorly functioning kidneys going. By "fixing" the hyper-thyroidism, these cats can go into kidney failure.