Is Your Cat Losing Weight?

Has a previously paunchy puss taken on a more slender physique?!!
Many people put this weight loss down to ‘old age’, not realising there may be an underlying disease we can manage.  Your cat could be suffering from a condition known as Hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is a very common disease in middle to older aged cats.  The thyroid glands are situated in the cat's neck, and produce hormones which have an important role in controlling the body’s metabolic rate.  Nodules or growths in the thyroid glands lead to increased production of thyroid hormones, and an increased metabolic rate.
So what symptoms are commonly seen?
  • Weight loss
    This is often despite a good, or even increased appetite
  • Restlessness, hyperactivity, increased irritability
    (ie highly strung and grumpy!)
  • Fast heart rate
    Sometimes with abnormal rhythms and murmurs
  • Unkempt coat, changes in grooming behaviour
  • Passing faeces more frequently, diarrhoea, vomiting
  • Increased thirst and urination
Your cat may show all, or just a few of the symptoms listed above.  But the good news is that if diagnosed early and treated appropriately, most cats with hyperthyroidism respond very well and can have many happy years ahead.
Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is confirmed with a blood test.  This is a good opportunity to also check for other diseases common in older cats such as kidney disease and diabetes mellitus.
If left untreated cats with hyperthyroidism can develop other serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney damage.

Treatment Options

There are three treatment options available for Hyperthyroidism.
  1. Medication
    This is usually in the form of tablets twice a day.  This does involve a bit of co-operation on behalf of the patient (!), but is effective and safe for most cats.  Medication will be required for the rest of the cat’s life.
  2. Thyroidectomy
    This is surgical removal of the affected thyroid tissue.  Cats are usually stabilised with medication prior to surgery.
  3. Radioactive Iodine treatment
    It sounds a bit scary, but this is the treatment of choice for most hyperthyroid cats as it’s a safe and effective cure.  This can be carried out at specially designed facilities in Hamilton or Auckland, as the cat needs to spend a week in isolation following treatment.
So if your cat is showing some of the symptoms discussed in this article, don’t put it off any longer!  Give us a call at our Papamoa or Bayfair clinic and book a check-up.