Hyperthyroidism affects approximately 12 per-cent of cats over the age of nine, in the UK.
Of eight million cats, half are in that age range, meaning hyperthyroidism affects more than 300,00 cats.
That is a huge number that, if not treated, will leave many cats with severe symptoms together with complications such as kidney disease.
Typically, hyperthyroidism means increased appetite and heart rate that are supplemented by other symptoms such as unkempt coat, diarrhoea, increased drinking and urination, and weight loss despite a normal or increased appetite.
Occasionally, affected cats exhibit intermittent periods of anorexia alternating with periods of normal or increased appetite.
An enlarged thyroid in the neck is the tell~tale sign and kidney problems are another.
So if any of these signs are noticed it is important to get your vet to give a check over as many cases are missed, sometimes for a considerable time, resulting in severe illness.
Finding enlarged thyroids in the neck is a skilled technique that even vets find tricky.
Blood tests are easily performed to help confirm the diagnosis and show up any concurrent condition.
Treatment usually involves giving daily tablets by mouth which is not always an easy procedure in cats, however most owners become very adept at it eventually.
If giving tablets is not possible then surgical removal of the thyroids is a possibility and avoids the need to struggle with the cat every day.
Radio-iodine therapy is also an effective remedy but has to be done at specialist centres and there is now a nutritional option that allows you to manage the condition using special food.
More and more we need to look at the individual cat and it’s circumstances and then suggest a plan that is most appropriate.
From a prognosis perspective, radio-iodine is the least routinely performed because of its unavailability
but it has possibly the best results for long term survival.