Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders in Cats

A thyroid disorder in cats is a common disease.

Any breed of cat can have it at any age, but older and middle-aged cats tend to get it more frequently. If you are a cat parent, it is wise to learn more about this condition, in particular the signs of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism in cats, as early intervention is important.

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So let’s learn more about thyroid conditions in cats and take the necessary steps to care for or treat your beloved feline friend before it’s too late.

Here’s everything you need to know about feline hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism so you can recognize the symptoms and get your cat on a treatment regimen as soon as possible.

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Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism in Cats

The hormones that your cat’s thyroid produces control a number of vital bodily functions, including metabolic rate. When your cat has hypothyroidism, it implies that their thyroid gland is underactive and isn’t producing enough of the hormones needed for their health. On the other hand, if your cat has hyperthyroidism, which is typically observed in older cats, then their thyroid gland is overactive.

Cats that have undergone surgery or received iodine therapy to treat hyperthyroidism typically develop hypothyroidism. Nevertheless, in a small percentage of cases, malignancy, iodine deficiency, or anomalies of the thyroid gland may be to blame for the illness.

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Cats are outfitted with two thyroid glands in their necks, which generate hormones that assist in controlling the metabolism. When a cat has hyperthyroidism, its thyroid glands malfunction and secretes an excessive amount of these hormones. The increased metabolism that results from this can seriously harm the health of cats by stressing their internal organs.

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Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Cats

As previously stated, hypothyroidism causes a slowing of the metabolism due to a lack of vital thyroid hormones. This decreased hormone level can cause the following numerous symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Cold Intolerance 
  • Hair matting
  • Constipation
  • Neurological changes
  • Hair loss
  • Weight Gain
  • Lethargy
  • Mental dullness
  • Low body temperature
  • Inactivity

Hypothyroidism Diagnosis

In order to diagnose hypothyroidism in cats, it is necessary to take blood samples and subject them to a specialized test known as a thyroid panel. A thyroid panel for cats includes a number of parameters.

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A cat with hypothyroidism typically has low total T4 (Thyroxine) levels. Additional testing might be necessary because your cat’s total T4 level can also be decreased by specific drugs and a condition known as euthyroid disease.

A blood sample may be used for this extra testing to measure free T4 (not bound to your cat’s blood protein, allowing the T4 to permeate body tissues), T3 (Triiodothyronine), and TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone).

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In kittens with congenital (by birth) hypothyroidism, X-rays may show bone abnormalities. The skeletal and nervous system of a kitten must develop normally for the thyroid hormone to be present; hence, alterations in these systems occur when the hormone is deficient.

A comprehensive blood count and chemical panel may reveal elevated cholesterol and anemia to your veterinarian. Although these problems are not exclusive to hypothyroidism, noticing them in your cat may prompt your veterinarian to perform more focused tests, such as thyroid measures.

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Treatment for Cats with Hypothyroidism

The majority of cats with hypothyroidism won’t need to be treated. A follow-up blood test will be planned to check your cat’s hormone levels, and if your pet’s symptoms are more severe, your veterinarian may recommend synthetic hormone supplements. Furthermore, he can also advise you to put your cat on a few digestive care supplements or nutritional and vitamin supplements.

Your cat may also need to follow a customized diet with less fat while they are getting better from hypothyroidism. Cats that have hypothyroidism often make a full recovery, with a noticeable improvement in their health occurring quickly.

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It is important to give your feline friends the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and proteins in order to prevent any internal organ or body ailment or infection. These nutritional supplements can help cats in maintaining a strong immune system, defending themselves against ailments or bacteria that cause infections, and recovering more quickly from an infection.

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Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Early hyperthyroidism symptoms in cats can be modest and may resemble those of other common cat diseases like diabetes. As the disease worsens, symptoms may get worse. These symptoms include: 

  • Increase in appetite 
  • Weight loss (with strong appetite)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased thirst
  • Urination disorder
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • An unkempt, dull, greasy, or matted coat
  • Restlessness
  • Behavioral changes
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Hyperthyroidism Diagnosis

A vet will perform a physical examination on a cat and palpate the cat’s neck area to look for an enlarged thyroid gland if they have reason to believe the cat has a hyperthyroidism thyroid issue.

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The vet will likely perform a few more tests, such as the following:

  1. Thyroid hormone level test

Blood pressure and the cat’s heart rate are measured. Your veterinarian will likely request a blood chemistry panel and an investigation of thyroid hormone levels if thyroid illness is a possibility. T4 levels in the blood are often increased in hyperthyroid cats, albeit tiny minorities of these cats also have T4 levels that are within the normal range. If your pet does not have elevated T4 levels but your veterinarian suspects hyperthyroidism, more tests may be necessary.

  1. A urine test

It’s important to assess overall health, paying close attention to the heart and kidneys in particular, because hyperthyroidism can put a cat at risk for other diseases. The results of a blood chemistry panel and urinalysis will tell your veterinarian more about other organs and give them a general idea of how healthy your cat is.

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  1. An ultrasound of the heart 

Sometimes a cat’s hyperthyroidism puts them at risk for developing additional illnesses. For instance, high blood pressure and heart disease are two side effects of hyperthyroidism in cats. Your cat’s heart will be subjected to an ultrasound exam by your veterinarian, who will also assess your cat’s general health.

Treatment for Cats with Hyperthyroidism

Cats with hyperthyroidism have a few different treatment options available. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best course of action for both you and your cat.

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Options for treatment include:

  1. Medication: 

Anti-thyroid medications can assist in lowering the thyroid hormone production in cats. Most frequently, the remedy is administered as a twice-daily dose that must be continued for the duration of the cat’s life. Anti-thyroid medications may also be available as a skin-applicable gel. Despite the drugs low cost, your cat could encounter negative side effects including vomiting, fever, fatigue, weight loss, and facial itching (which indicate the cat cannot tolerate the medication).

  1. Radioactive iodine therapy:
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This treatment includes injecting iodine directly into your cat’s bloodstream. Iodine is absorbed by the cat’s thyroid, and radiation eliminates any aberrant thyroid tissue without harming the cat’s other tissues. After receiving treatment, the majority of cats return to normal hormone levels within a few weeks.

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This treatment is only available at specialized radiotherapy facilities. Cats are kept in the hospital for a little time following the therapy. Due to the radioactive nature of the treatment, the cat must be kept in isolation until it gets home.

  1. Surgery:

This treatment option entails surgically removing the cat’s thyroid. It can do away with the requirement for long-term medicine and has a high rate of success. However, because your cat must be put under anesthesia, there may be a risk for older cats. It should be performed under the observation of a professional veterinarian surgeon. 

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  1. Dietary therapy:

Some medical studies propose limiting the quantity of iodine in your cat’s diet to help treat and prevent hyperthyroidism. This course of treatment is the subject of continuing research; therefore it cannot be considered a sure thing. It’s important to consult your veterinarian before reducing the amount of iodine in your cat’s diet.

Bottom Line

Cats with hyper – or hypothyroidism not only have a lower quality of life, but the illness can also lead to heart failure, blindness, or even death if left untreated. Therefore, it is advised that you immediately take your cat to the veterinarian if you see any symptoms of thyroid hormone abnormalities. 

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Note: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns whatsoever about your pet’s medical condition, always seek the advice of your veterinarian. If you believe your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, contact your veterinarian or a nearby veterinary emergency center right away.

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About Author

Jesse is an animal lover and a writer on various blogging platforms. She is passionate about pets’ health care and hygiene, helping pet parents take better care of their furry friends. Apart from writing, she enjoys traveling and chilling with her furry companions, Rocco and Marley. You can connect with Jesse on Twitter.

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Cristina is a licensed veterinarian who has been a cat owner since she was 12. She is passionate about giving useful advice to pet owners across the world. Her favorite topics range from pathology and novel therapies to infectious diseases and animal welfare. Her work has been featured in many online publications from The Pet Friendly House to Alpha Paw, Animal Wellness Magazine, and

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