About the Thyroid Gland
About Feline Hyperthyroidism
The thyroid gland is composed of two lobes, one located on each side of the trachea just below the larynx. The thyroid gland produces a hormone called thyroxine (T4) and is responsible for maintaining the body's normal metabolic rate, which affects the function of many body organs.
Feline hyperthyroidism is a disease that commonly occurs in middle aged to geriatric cats. Hyperthyroidism is the result of the thyroid gland overproducing thyroxine (T4). The excessive T4 causes the metabolic rate to increase. The thyroid gland may become enlarged. Cats that have hyperthyroidism typically show symptoms of increased appetite while losing weight, excessive thirst and urination, and sometimes hair loss. Cats with hyperthyroidism frequently experience a reduced quality of life due to weight loss, muscle deterioration, chronic vomiting or diarrhea. In addition, some hyperthyroid cats present less visible signs of the disease such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Left untreated, these problems can be life threatening. However, these conditions can be prevented with timely treatment for thyroid disease.
How Feline Hyperthyroidism is Diagnosed
Feline hyperthyroidism can be suspected by your veterinarian based on clinical signs (symptoms) and physical examination. The diagnosis must be confirmed by taking a blood sample to test for elevated thyroid hormone (T4). Hyperthyroidism also may be detected from result of blood tests done at the time of annual physical examination allowing early diagnosis and treatment.