Feline Hyperthyroidism – summary and knowledge check

As we come to the end of this course on hyperthyroidism in cats, we hope you are now feeling more informed and understand how you can help your pet with their condition. Your vet should be your first point of contact regarding your cat’s health or any financial concerns, but this resource is always available for you to flick back through as well. Before we conclude, we will go over some of the key points again to ensure you feel confident in what you have learned.

The underlying cause of feline hyperthyroidism 

Hyperthyroidism in cats is caused by abnormal nodules or growths in the tissue of the thyroid gland which produces excessive amounts of total T4. This is a thyroid hormone that helps to control many processes around the body including metabolism. These growths or nodules are usually benign adenomas, a type of tumour that grows locally and doesn’t spread elsewhere. Very occasionally this tissue can be seen in other locations in the body away from the thyroid gland (ectopic hyperplastic thyroid tissue (EHTT)), or it could be a more sinister type of tumour known as a carcinoma. 


The symptoms of feline hyperthyroidism

The signs of hyperthyroidism are varied as thyroid hormones affect all sorts of processes around the body. Classic symptoms include weight loss despite a good appetite, increased thirst, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, increased vocalisation and an unkempt coat. Other signs may be picked up by your vet on examination such as an increased heart rate, high blood pressure and an enlarged thyroid gland.

Diagnosing feline hyperthyroidism

Your vet will start by examining your cat and talking to you about their symptoms. Diagnostics tests will be performed, usually starting with blood samples. Biochemistry, haematology and urinalysis are run to get an overall picture of your cat’s health. Total T4 is also run as part of their initial blood panel. An elevated level is diagnostic for hyperthyroidism and no further tests are usually needed. Your vet may suggest other monitoring tests such as blood pressure measurements, however.

Treatment of feline hyperthyroidism

There are four main treatment options for hyperthyroidism in cats, each with their own set of pros and cons. Many cats are controlled medically, with daily dosing needed for the rest of the cat’s life. This requires regular blood tests and vet check-ups. Radio iodine therapy is usually curative with no side effects but does carry a large upfront cost and requires the cat to be hospitalised for a period. Thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid gland) can be curative in most cases and more readily available than radio-iodine therapy. However, surgery is not without risk and the possibility of complications. An iodine-restricted diet can work well in some cases but is not suitable for all patients. The decision comes down to costs, as well as what you feel would work best for your cat.

Your cat’s long-term prognosis

Your cat’s long-term prognosis usually depends on how well their thyroid is controlled through treatment, and whether they have any other health conditions. Cats that have kidney disease, cancer or heart complaints have a lower survival rate than those that don’t. With the right treatment and monitoring many hyperthyroid cats have a good quality of life. 

Goodbye from us!

Well done for completing this course, we hope it has proved helpful. As a committed pet owner, you should now be in the best possible place to care for your cat and successfully manage their hyperthyroidism. Don’t forget we also have courses on many other health conditions available to you, should you need them. We wish you and your cat all the best.

Send us feedback, questions and tips

Lastly, we’d love for you to give us any feedback (good and bad!) on our ‘Feline hyperthyroidism’ course. Have you got questions that weren’t answered? Do you want to request an addition? If you have tips or advice for other families going through this health condition, you can leave them here too. Our vets will review them for safety and periodically add them to the course.

Please note this form should not be used to submit questions related to individual pets or ask for medical advice – you should contact your own vet for that.

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We’d love feedback! Please leave your thoughts about the course below.

For instance, you might want to let us know how you found navigating the course, anything you didn’t understand, or anything you wish we’d covered in more detail.

If you have positive case stories or caring for your pet tips that you’d like to share with other pet owners, please leave them here

We’d love this resource to be brilliant, and that means reaching out to you guys – if your cat has been diagnosed with feline hyperthyroidism and you’ve got advice to share with other pet parents, please leave them here. You might have found a good way to administer your cat’s medication, or perhaps you have a positive story about your cat’s radio-iodine therapy – whatever it is, we want to hear it! Our vets will review and add all safe tips to the course to help future families.