Feline Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism
In cats, the thyroid is a crucial gland that produces hormones called liothyronine (or ‘T3′) and thyroxine (or ‘T4′) both of which are responsible for regulating gastrointestinal function, metabolism, blood pressure/heart rate, and body temperature. Cats have two thyroid glands located in the throat region along the trachea.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when one or both of the thyroid glands becomes enlarged (called “nodular hyperplasia”) and begins to produce excessive amounts of hormones. This can cause increased thirst, increased appetite, weight loss, diarrhea and/or vomiting, poor coat health, panting or difficulty breathing, and hyperactivity. It is a common disorder that affects mostly older cats or cats over the age of 7. The cause of this condition is not entirely known but it can often be managed effectively by limiting levels of dietary iodine in the food.
On the contrary, Hypothyroidism is a rare condition in cats and it occurs when not enough hormones are released from the thyroid. This deficiency can cause lethargy, weakness, weight gain, hair matting or loss of hair, constipation, inactivity and low body temperature.
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are diagnosed by a veterinarian who will perform a thorough examination of your cat and obtain his/her complete medical history up to the onset of symptoms. Routine blood testing that measures T4 levels usually follows so your veterinarian can determine whether your cat has sufficient hormone levels. If your cat is diagnosed with either of these conditions, your veterinarian will recommend treatment and/or dietary modification to help manage symptoms and restore normal thyroid functioning.
If you believe that your cat may be suffering from hyper- or hypothyroidism, the first step is to contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination.