The Star-Herald

Feline thyroid disease

Hello to all. Summer is finally here in Aroostook County, and it has been a hot one.  Hope you all are keeping your fur babies in out of the heat. Mine are happy being inside with the air conditioner going.

If you can’t keep them inside, make sure they have adequate housing and shade and lots of water. 

My 16-year-old cat, Zoey, looked to me like she had lost some weight, so off to the vet we went.  She had lost about 7 pounds; she went from 19 pounds to 12 pounds. She had been breathing heavy, also, so the vet did some tests and determined she has feline thyroid disease, which is affecting her breathing.   

The meds are prescribed in pill form, which didn’t work for me — it is not easy to give a cat pills.  I had to practically sit on her to get the pill down her throat, then later I would find it somewhere on the floor where she spat it out.   This was not fun for Zoey or myself, so now I am giving her the salve form that is put on the inside of her ear twice a day, in the morning and at night, alternating ears.  

I never would have thought about a cat having thyroid disease, so I did a little research on and learned quite a bit, including that this disease is common in older cats.

Feline thyroid disease, also known as cat hyperthyroidism, is a glandular disorder found exclusively in felines.  Cats have thyroid glands on both sides of the windpipe. The gland produces small amounts of thyroxine T4 hormone into the bloodstream.  When excessive amounts are produced, the result is a hyperthyroid condition. Veterinarians have reported that the occurrences of hyperthyroidism in cats have been on the rise over the last two decades.  The reason why some cats are stricken and others are not is unknown, but it is suspected that many factors such as nutrition and environmental factors could play a role.

One of the most common symptoms is weight loss, which I noticed in my Zoey.  About 95 percent of felines that come down with this condition lose weight. There are a number of other symptoms associated with this condition, such as increased hunger, increased thirst, hair loss and diarrhea.  If not treated, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or thickening of the heart, can occur. This almost always causes the cat’s heart to stop, which leads to death.

Tdis disease can strike all breeds, male or female but cats that have it are usually older.  The average age of cats that see the onset of this condition is about 13. Vets can monitor the levels via blood tests.  Also they will check to see if the animal has concurrent conditions such as heart and kidney problems. Your vet will discuss with you the level of treatment, which could be meds or maybe surgery is the answer.  

With my Zoey, I chose the gel form that is administered in the cat’s ear.  She seems to be doing great and she will be monitored every three to six months by her vet.

To read more about thyroid disease, go to

If you are looking to become paw-rents, check out the Central Aroostook Humane Society Facebook page or stop by the shelter at 26 Cross Street, Presque Isle.  Our hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gail Wieder is a member of the board of directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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