Meow, meow… Is your cat hungrier than normal?
“Meow, meow”…Is your cat hungrier than normal? Calling from next to the food bowl for extra snacks yet NOT putting on weight? Dr Jennie Heslop provides a few answers.
Hyperthyroidism (an over active thyroid gland producing too much thyroid hormone) is one of the more common hormonal conditions we see in cats. As well as causing an increase in appetite and weight loss, cats can have a very high heart rate leading to life threatening heart disease.
Cats with hyperthyroidism are usually senior in age (over eight years old) and may also show signs of drinking more, restlessness and poorly kept coat. Diagnosis is simple, with a blood test done in the hospital.
Treatment depends on your cat’s circumstances (e.g. concurrent conditions like kidney disease). Options include radioactive iodine (the best treatment for most cats) or medication or surgery. Recently, Hills introduced the prescription diet y/d Feline Thyroid Care to Australia and this can also be a treatment option in some cats. I asked Dr Nicole to briefly explain how this diet works for cats with thyroid disease:
It is restricted in iodine, which the thyroid gland needs to make the thyroid hormone, but still is balanced for all other nutrients and is kidney friendly for cats that have other health issues to deal with that might make some of the other options for therapy more problematic. The new food is best used when the thyroid is mildly to moderately elevated, but is usually well accepted by cats.
There are some limitations to using y/d
The food needs to be fed as a SOLE source of nutrition, so if your cat sneaks outside and eats at the neighbour’s each day, then it is not going to work for you.
So, whilst y/d diet is not going to be the complete solution for all cats, it provides a great new weapon in fighting this debilitating disease.
If you have more than one cat in your household, the other cats that do not have hyperthryoidism can eat y/d, but you will need to ensure that they have a tablespoon or more of regular cat food daily to make sure they get enough iodine to meet their requirements.
If you think your cat is showing any abnormal signs compatible with hyperthyroidism, I’d suggest giving us a call so that we can evaluate them.
Dr Jennie Heslop is a member of the feline medicine chapter of the ANZCVS and our resident cat expert at Prahran Veterinary Hospital.