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Your Hyperactive Cat May Be Fighting A Thyroid Tumor

You may laugh when your older cat races through the house like a kitten. But then you realize that they never seem to calm down. Your cat may be facing hyperthyroidism caused by a tumor in the thyroid gland. A common occurrence in cats, this disease can be treated so your cat will live a long and more peaceful life. Here is what you need to know about hyperthyroidism in cats and how your veterinarian can help your cat.

An Overactive Thyroid Controls Your Cat's Life

The thyroid regulates metabolism in cats just as it does in humans. An under-active thyroid results in sluggishness and weight gain. An overactive thyroid gives your cat that bouncing-off-the-wall energy and causes them to burn calories quickly. One reason the thyroid may kick into high gear is a tumor in the gland.

Thyroid tumors grow slowly, but their presence causes the thyroid to produce an excess of thyroid hormones. This is what increases your cat's metabolism and causes a number of other symptoms such as:

  • weight loss
  • increased appetite
  • restlessness
  • poor fur condition
  • elevated heart rate
  • diarrhea and vomiting

You cat's body is running overtime, which is hard on all of the cat's bodily systems. Luckily, this is a treatable condition that can be reversed. When the tumor no longer stimulates the thyroid to produce excess hormones, the body eases back into its natural state.

Treatment of Hyperthyroidism in Cats

There are three primary ways to treat a thyroid tumor in cats:

  • Medication management - Medications are available that reduce the amount of thyroid hormone produced. Your animal hospital will take blood samples to get a baseline of the hormone levels in the cat. They will then give you a prescription for medication that you'll give your cat once or twice a day. After a few weeks, you'll take your cat back in for a blood test to see the effect of the medication. Your vet may adjust the dosage and have you come back for another blood test in a few weeks. 
    Once the veterinarian clinic is satisfied with the hormone levels in your cat, you will continue to give them that dose for the rest of the cat's life. You'll take your cat in for blood tests every year to make sure the dose is still correct. Your cat may eventually need higher doses until the medication does them no good. You are also paying for a monthly supply of the medication over a long period of time.
  • Radiation treatment - Small pellets of radioactive material are injected into the thyroid near the tumor. The actively reproducing tumor cells die from the radiation poisoning. This is typically a one-time treatment and your cat will be in the animal hospital for a few days. As the tumor cells die, the thyroid activity, and your cat's metabolism, return to normal. Although this tends to be a one-time treatment, it can be expensive because of the requirements the cat clinic must follow to handle radioactive materials.
  • Surgical treatment - With this treatment, the vet removes all or part of the thyroid and the tumor cells. While this gets rid of the offending tumor, it also removes the thyroid hormone producing mechanism. You will need to give your cat a thyroid hormone supplement to compensate for the lose of the thyroid tissue.

Talk with your veterinarian at Lamb's Gap Animal Hospital about which treatment is right for your cat and you.