Feline Hyperthyroidism: What You Need to Know


Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats. It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart and kidney disease.

Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

For a comprehensive overview of what causes hyperthyroidism, what the symptoms are, and how it is diagnosed and treated, read Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Treatment Options

Currently, there are three treatment options for hyperthyroidism in cats:

  1. Medication
  2. Surgery
  3. Radioactive Iodine (I131) treatment

Surviving Radiocat: A Personal Account

Amber was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2005, and I chose the radioactive iodine treatment for her. For a personal account of our experience, please read Surviving Radiocat.

Can a new prescription diet cure hyperthyroidism?

Hill’s Pet Nutrition claims that its new diet, y/d Thyroid Health, an iodine deficient diet, can cure hyperthyroidism if fed exclusively. My gut feeling, when the diet first came out, was that it sounded too good to be true: simply change your cat’s food, and cure a potentially life-threatening disease? The ingredient list made me cringe. The dry version contains no animal protein; its protein is derived from corn gluten meal, soybean hulls and dried egg product. The canned product is only marginally better: it contains meat by-products, corn and rice. I’m not alone in my misgivings about the diet. Please read Can A New Prescription Food Really Cure Your Cat’s Hyperthyroidism for more information.

Are there alternative treatments for hyperthyroidism?

At a recent meeting of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, Dr. Steve Marsden, one of the chief educators of veterinarians worldwide in complementary veterinary medicine, with board certifications in Chinese herbology, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine, shared his experience of treating hyperthyroidism with herbal medicine. These medicines may be useful with early cases, as well as during the stabilization phase, and they can easily be integrated into conventional treatment programs. While these herbal formulas are not as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs, they are generally safer and have fewer side effects. At a minimum, they may be able to lower the dose of conventional drugs. Read Herbal Medicine: A New Option for Treating Feline Hyperthyroidism for more information.

Before you make treatment decisions for your hyperthyroid cats, familiarize yourself with all treatment options, and don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian to clarify anything you don’t understand.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

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