Care for Feline
Hyperthyroidism

Feline Hyperthyroidism is a common condition that typically affects older cats. It arises when the thyroid gland in the neck produces excessive amounts of the hormone thyroxine.

Feline Hyperthyroidism - Cat Thyroid Treatment in Bay of Plenty

Thyroxine’s Role

Thyroxine plays a crucial role in regulating your cat’s metabolism. Elevated levels can lead to various clinical signs, including a ravenous appetite and weight loss. It also influences blood pressure, heart rate, and gastrointestinal function. Overproduction is often caused by a thyroid gland tumour, which can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Recognising the Signs

Hyperthyroidism varies in severity, with increased appetite being the most common symptom of heightened metabolism. Other signs may include increased thirst, weight loss despite increased appetite, hyperactivity, diarrhea and/or vomiting, poor skin and coat condition, and an elevated heart rate.

Diagnosis and Monitoring

The initial diagnosis involves a blood test to measure thyroxine levels in your cat’s blood. Additional blood tests may be conducted initially to rule out other underlying conditions. Elevated thyroxine levels indicate hyperthyroidism, prompting the development of a tailored treatment plan.

Ongoing Care & Monitoring

Following diagnosis, your cat will require regular Veterinary check-ups and blood tests to ensure that the treatment plan is effective and that thyroxine levels return to the “normal” range. This often involves follow-up blood tests 3-4 weeks after starting treatment and, depending on results, subsequent assessments every 3-6 months. Even when hyperthyroidism is well-controlled, regular Veterinary consultations and blood tests (at least every 6 months) are essential to ensure continued success.

Feline Hyperthyroidism Treatment

Following diagnosis, your cat will require regular Veterinary check-ups and blood tests to ensure that the treatment plan is effective and that thyroxine levels return to the “normal” range. This often involves follow-up blood tests 3-4 weeks after starting treatment and, depending on results, subsequent assessments every 3-6 months. Even when hyperthyroidism is well-controlled, regular Veterinary consultations and blood tests (at least every 6 months) are essential to ensure continued success.

Feline Hyperthyroidism management for cats

Managing Hyperthyroidism

Thankfully, hyperthyroidism can be effectively managed and even cured using various treatment options. Our gold standard treatment is Radioactive Iodine, which you can read more about below. Additionally, other treatment options include daily medications or a specialised iodine-free diet.

Radioactive Iodine

Radioactive Iodine treatment, commonly known as I-131 treatment, employs a radioactive form of iodine to address cat hyperthyroidism. This radioactive iodine is administered, causing the thyroid gland to concentrate and effectively destroy overactive cells, restoring normal thyroid function.

Safety of I-131

Rest assured, Radioactive Iodine treatment is safe for your cat and your family. The administered dose is minimal and primarily concentrated in the affected area. Cats receiving this treatment stay in a specialised facility for at least 7 days to ensure safety.

The Treatment Process

During Radioactive Iodine treatment:

  • Your cat will be admitted to our hospital boarding facility for a comprehensive examination.
  • A small patch of fur over the shoulder will be clipped to allow for the iodine injection, administered by one of our experienced Veterinarians.
  • Following the injection, your cat will remain in our hospital for a period of 7-21 days while they are radioactive.

Post-Treatment Care & Returning Home

Your cat can usually return home after 7 days, though some prefer a full 3-week stay if someone in the household is pregnant or young.

If you choose to take your cat home after 7 days, please adhere to these important guidelines during the post-treatment period (7-21 days post-treatment):

  • Confinement Guidelines: Keep your cat confined to a low-contact area of your home, such as a spare bedroom or garage. They should not be allowed outside, especially for toileting. Maintain the litterbox in this confined area, using a waterproof disposable lining (incontinence pad) and wear rubber gloves for cleaning. Dispose of soiled litter daily in an outside rubbish bin.
  • Handling Guidelines: Limit close proximity to your cat for more than a few minutes. Short pickups are safe, but avoid extended lapsitting or bed-sharing. Prevent face-to-face contact, and ensure your cat doesn’t lick you. Remember to wash your hands after handling, especially before eating.
  • Toileting Guidelines: If your cat urinates indoors, clean thoroughly with paper towels and a standard household cleaner, placing the waste in a rubbish bag. Wear rubber gloves and wash your hands carefully afterwards. For urine-soaked garments or carpets, wash them thoroughly, with garments separately.
  • Food Preparation Sites: Prevent your cat from accessing kitchen benches or food preparation areas.

Treatment Effectiveness & Considerations

Feline Hyperthyroidism treatment success rate

Success Rate

Approximately 95% of cats experience a complete recovery with just one dose of I-131, resulting in normal thyroid hormone levels within a month. Only about 5% may require a second dose of radioactive iodine.

Feline Hyperthyroidism remission

Long-term Remission

Studies have demonstrated that after successful treatment, only 2% of cats experience a recurrence of hyperthyroidism within the six years following radioactive iodine treatment.

Feline Hyperthyroidism treatment cost-effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness

Radioactive Iodine is a cost-effective solution when compared to the cost of 10 months of alternative medication-based treatments.

Thyroid Gland Reduction

In rare cases, Radioactive Iodine treatment may inadvertently reduce thyroid gland function excessively, causing a temporary deficiency in thyroid hormone production. This occurs in roughly 2% of cases and typically lasts 6-12 weeks.

Efficiency

Radioactive iodine offers a single, painless injection that is highly effective at curing hyperthyroidism. Approximately 95% of cats achieve a complete cure with just one treatment.

Additional Information

For further details about Radioactive Iodine treatment, please consult with your Veterinarian. Before treatment, your cat will undergo essential blood and urine tests, offering an ideal opportunity to address any questions or concerns with your Vet. To schedule I-131 treatment or inquire about our upcoming intake, please contact our friendly team.

Talk to Us about Feline Hyperthyroidism Care

Contact Tauranga Vets today for expert care and treatment options for your cat’s hyperthyroidism.