You frequently see your adult cat race from one end of the house to the other. When not running through the house, they seem to be at the food or water dish, or in the litter box. Some cats are just that active, but a disease called hyperthyroidism is common in adult cats. This speeds up their metabolism and makes it difficult to settle down. This is a treatable disease and, if diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, your cat can live a long life. Here is how the disease affects your cat and how to make life comfortable for them.
The Out-of-Control Thyroid
The thyroid regulates the body's metabolism. It produces a hormone which circulates in the blood, telling the cells in the body how quickly to do their job. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is enlarged, or develops a tumor, which causes an increase in this hormone. The body reacts by speeding up the metabolism.
The heart, digestion and kidneys in your cat all work harder. Your cat may have high blood pressure, may eat and drink more than normal, and may produce more urine requiring frequent trips to the litter box. At times, it may look as if your cat can't get any rest because of being active all the time.
Treatment of Hyperthyroidism
The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of hormone produced by your cat's thyroid. Three approaches are used by your veterinary clinic:
- Medication - Pills can be given daily to suppress the production of this hormone.
- Surgery - Thyroid tissue and tumors can be removed to stop the overproduction of the hormone.
- Radiation - A radioactive substance can be injected into the bloodstream that kills tumor cells in the thyroid.
Medication doesn't cure the problem, but does reduce the symptoms. Surgery may remove most of the symptoms. Radiation can bring the thyroid function back to normal. In each case, your cat may continue to show some hyperactive behaviors.
Living with the Hyperthyroid Cat
As long as your cat maintains a higher-than normal metabolism level, there are a few things you can do to keep them comfortable at home.
- Feed them a high-protein diet - If they don't get enough protein, they will start burning muscle and begin wasting away. Your veterinarian can suggest special foods for the hyperthyroid cat.
- Set out multiple water dishes - The added protein digestion creates more waste, causing the kidneys to work harder. Your cat drinks more water to flush the waste out of their body.
- Set out multiple litter boxes - The increased water means more trips to the litter box. Having a litter box close by means fewer accidents because your cat can't wait to find the box.
- Help with grooming - Your cat's fur changes, and they will spend less time grooming. Brush your cat daily to prevent mats from forming.
- Play with your cat more - Get your cat active in play to help burn off energy so they can relax. At night before your bedtime is a good time to have a play session. Your cat may sleep more soundly and be less likely to keep you up with their prowling through the house.
For more information, contact Bearss Animal Clinic or a similar location.