Mozart’s overactive thyroid is treatable with older cats

Ask the Vet

Q: I have five cats, but “Mozart” is my favorite. My vet told me that he has early thyroid disease and wants me to come in to talk next week about his treatment options. Can you give me more information before my appointment, so I know what I’m getting into? T.L., Farragut

A: Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is unfortunately common in older cats. The good news is that it is treatable.

The thyroid glands are located in the neck, and their function is to produce and secrete thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism in cats is generally caused by hyperplastic (enlarged) glands, with only a small percentage of cats having a benign tumor. At the onset of disease, most owners don’t notice anything. But as excess thyroid hormones are produced, cats tend to lose weight and muscle mass, even though they are generally eating and drinking very well (often excessively). As the disease progresses, some cats have gastrointestinal signs, such as occasional bouts of vomiting and/or diarrhea. Left untreated, cats can develop heart murmurs and enlargement, hypertension and kidney disease.

The good news is that Mozart has been diagnosed early. Treatment options include daily medication, surgery, radioactive iodine and dietary therapy.

Things to consider when making treatment decisions include evaluating Mozart’s other test results, concurrent disease, ease of administration of oral medicines, the potential difficulty of the prescription diet in a multi-cat household and expense. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you in choosing the right treatment for Mozart. Good luck to him.

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