HYPERTHYROIDISM IN CATS
(SO MANY KITTIES WITH OVERACTIVE THYROID GLANDS)
When I started working at St. Francis Animal Rescue in Venice, Florida, I was surprised to find how many of our cats had this problem and required medication. Hyperthyroidism is the most common gland disorder in cats of any breed, both male and female. They are usually cats older than 10 years of age but we have a few that developed the problem when they were younger. The most common age of onset is between 12 and 13 years of age. A cat will present with a marked increase in appetite but will lose weight. The frequently display increased thirst and urination as well as vomiting and diarrhea. Your otherwise sedate senior may also become very active, pant and have an unkempt appearance.
It is important to take your beloved pet to the veterinarian immediately for an examination and lab work. A simple blood test for the thyroid hormone, T4, will show it is elevated in most cases. If your elderly cat has other medical conditions, the diagnosis might be a bit tricky and require more lab tests. These tests can be expensive but because hyperthyroidism is so common, lower cost clinics run by local Humane Societies and not-for-profit shelters can help provide the needed medical care.
The good news is that the medication called methimazole (Tapazole) controls the condition for a majority of cats and is relatively inexpensive. The average dose of a 2.5mg. tablet twice a day costs us about $10-$15 a month for our affected cats. The good news is that it is a small tablet that will dissolve in a few drops of water and can be added to a little gravy or wet food. For the kitty that really resists medication, there is a gel formulation that can be placed on the inside of the ear and absorbed through the skin. However, it will cost more. Again, it is wise to check with local low cost clinics or animal charities to compare medication options and costs.