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What is Feline Hyperthyroidism?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Garden State Veterinary Specialists

Feline hyperthyroidism is a disorder resulting from excessive thyroid hormone. The disease occurs in middle to older cats without sex or breed predilection. Though functional benign enlargement (adenoma) is most common (98%), thyroid carcinoma (cancer) is another cause (2%). The catís thyroid gland has two lobes and about 70% of cats have both lobes affected.

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include: weight loss, poor haircoat, rapid heart rate, voracious appetite or thirst, anxiety or nervousness, diarrhea, or vomiting. Usually a diagnosis is made based upon physical exam (a lump or mass in the neck is detected); elevated levels of thyroid hormone in the blood; and an isotope imaging test which shows the size, shape and location of the thyroid glands. There are three treatment options: anti-thyroid medication, surgery or radioiodine therapy. The prognosis with treatment is generally good although cats with severe disease involving multiple organs may not fare as well.

Although there are three different treatment options, the preferred treatment for humans with the same disease is Radioactive Iodine-131. The availability of radioiodine for cats is limited to specialty hospitals with strict radioisotope permits. Radioiodine is safe and effective with cure rates of approximately 95-98% with one treatment. A single injection is given under the skin, like a vaccine, and the radioactive iodine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The iodine is taken into the thyroid gland and incorporated into thyroxine. The majority of cats have normal hormone levels within a week or two of treatment. Hospitalization is required under the radioisotope permit issued by the State of New Jersey. Patients are usually released from the hospital 72 hours post treatment.

Dr. Thomas D. Scavelli of Garden State Veterinary Specialists has been licensed to provide Radioiodine treatments to patients for nearly 10 years. If your pet is experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned in this article, please consult your primary veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. Upon the advice of your veterinarian you will be able to make a determination as to the best treatment option for you and your cat.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the professional advice of your veterinarian.

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