-- Feline Hyperthyroidism --
Like many other diseases that are commonly associated with humans, cats can contract a condition known as hyperthyroidism, which is where its thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormone.
This is a condition that can have a knock on effect on many different bodily functions, and can send the cat's metabolic rate through the roof.
The thyroid gland is split into two lobes, and in cats with this condition one or both of the lobes can swell, resulting in an over-production of thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormones are responsible for a number of things, such as regulating the body's metabolism, aiding the property growth and health of bodily cells, and regulating heat production and oxygen consumption.
Because of the effect that hyperthyroidism has on the metabolism of the cells in the body, these cells then need more energy to enable them to function properly. In order to provide this increased energy the cat will need to eat more food, and you may therefore find that the fact that you cat is gobbling down everything in sight is not mere greed but due to the cat's need to consume a lot of food for energy.
However, no matter how greedy you think your cat may be at some point it will become difficult for him to eat as much food as he needs to keep his energy up, and which will result in your cat losing weight even though he appears to be eating huge amounts of food. Because of the increased metabolic rate caused by this condition cats can also develop a rapid heart rate, and can become very restless.
There are a number of ways in which your cat may react to feline hyperthyroidism, and it can be really helpful to you and your cat if you are able to recognise these signs, as you can then get your cat treated more quickly, thus minimising distress and discomfort for him.
Some of the signs that can indicate that you cat has this condition include:
If your cat displays some or all of these symptoms you need to ask the vet to check him over. The vet will determine whether it could be feline hyperthyroidism, and will carry out tests accordingly. A physical examination, assessment of the symptoms, and blood tests can usually confirm whether you cat has this condition.
The treatment for this condition involved bringing the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood back down, and is usually a relatively straightforward job. The vet will usually prescribe pills (something that will fill any cat owner who has tried to administer pills to their cat before with dread!) and will also monitor the cat to check on his response to the medication.
Those who have never tried to give a cat a pill will not know just what a difficult task this can be. However, if your cat has hyperthyroidism he may be on medication for life. Unlike dogs your cat will not simply wolf down the pill if it is concealed in their food – they will smell a rat a mile off, and will meticulously pick around it if necessary just to make your job harder.
A useful tip to make things easier is to find out from your vet whether the tablet can be crushed before administering it. If so, you can crush up the tablet into powder, mix it in with a very small amount of butter, and then put the butter on your cat's paw. Yes, he will be cross, and yes he will be grumpy! However, cats are very clean creatures, and he won't be able to stand having the butter on his paw for long, which means that he will lick it off, licking the crushed pill off at the same time.