Hyperthyroidism is a disease we see commonly in middle age to older cats. Essentially it refers to a disease process where an animal has an overactive thyroid and, as a result, produces too much thyroid hormone. This leads to an excessively fast metabolism.
Often a cat with Hyperthyroidism will display signs such as weight loss, increased appetite and thirst, large amounts of urination, poor coat quality and frequent vomiting. However, not all cats will exhibit these signs. Some cats will also have a heart murmur, high blood pressure or a physically enlarged thyroid gland when clinically examined.
The good news about hyperthyroidism is that there are several options for treatment, and a cat with this disease can live an essentially normal life. The exemption for this is if they are very unlucky and have hyperthyroidism caused by cancer which is much less common.
Treatment is generally in the form of daily medication or, less commonly, some cases may warrant radioiodine therapy, or even surgery. It is important to also note that the signs of hyperthyroidism can be very similar to other disease processes such as kidney disease and diabetes mellitus so your veterinarian will need to run some tests to tell these diseases apart and confirm the diagnosis before treatment is undertaken.
Please call us and make an appointment if you are at all concerned that your cat may be displaying any of these signs. Without treatment, your cat may be at risk of a serious secondary medical problem such as blindness or kidney damage, both of which can be easily prevented.