Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hyperthyroidism in Cats – My Experience So Far

Recently a sister blogger posted that one of the family cats was suffering from a saddle thrombosis, which is a blood clot.  I decided to learn more about this so I, of course, Googled it.  What I found was enlightening and frightening.  Here’s the site that I went to:

Several years ago I lost 3 cats to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).  First there was Cyd, a CARE cat that I had bailed out of animal services.  She succumbed within days of showing any symptoms of illness and died at the vet’s office because of a blood clot.  It was because of her that I decided to find out more about the saddle thrombosis, since I suspected that was what killed her.  Cyril, another bailed out CARE cat was next.  My regular vet was out of town for a holiday weekend and I feared Cyril would risk a painful death at home, so I chose to euthanize him.  Next was China, who again got sick suddenly.  I took her to the emergency clinic and the pain med injection ended up killing her.  She died in my arms as I was waiting for my vet to come into the office to see her.  I requested a necropsy and he determined that she, too, had HCM.  Losing so many to the same disease caused me great concern, but I wasn’t able to find any causation online. 

In the last year I have had two cats, Claudia and Colt, diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.  Again, I couldn’t find a cause – something I was doing wrong – to help me prevent this in my other cats.  When Claudia went blind, the vet who treated her insisted it was unrelated.  I found out online that blindness is a common side effect of hyperthyroidism as was the plaintive wailing she would make from time to time. 

Hyperthyroidism can only be diagnosed through a blood test.  Blood work generally costs between $70 and $120.00 per test per cat.  Testing all of my cats would run into thousands of dollars.  By comparison, medication is relatively inexpensive.  

The article referenced above says that hyperthyroidism can lead to cardiac problems, which can lead to HCM, which can lead to a saddle thrombosis.  By that time, it’s too late to help your cat.  Not a single one of my vets (and there have been 3 now) ever told me any of this.  Two of those vets are cat specialists.  Wouldn’t it be logical, especially since I now have (or had) two cats with hyperthyroidism, to provide me with pertinent information about spotting it, what to look for, what other conditions might develop?  This only reinforces my disregard for the veterinary profession in general.  From the same site, here is more information about hyperthyroidism:  And here's another link:  And one final link:

The Web has been of great use to me in helping me diagnose and treat my cats over the years.  I hope all my cat loving friends out there will, at the least, augment their knowledge through the internet.  The more we know, the better care we can take of our cats and dogs.


  1. Very interesting article. I think one of our volunteers has a cat with the hyperthyroid and I'll forward your blog on with your blessing. Thank you!

  2. I've come to recognize hyperthyroid cats as having kind of oily fur, being very vocal, rapid racing heartbeat, losing weight, drinking tons of water, eating lots. One vet awhile back told me she suspected mercury (from fish cat food that includes predatorial fish) or off contaminants from the cans in canned food with the rise in numbers of hyperthyroid cats. Some cats get the surgery to remove the thyroid, which solves it but then you have to give them thyroid meds (the ones for low thyroid). The meds are cheap for hyperthyroid treatment at least and very tiny. That first didn't work. I hope I can post this time. The web has sure helped me also in learning about all these diseases and getting help from others who share their experience.

  3. Oh yeah, they can also lose spots of hair, when hyperthyroid.

  4. Claudia had stopped grooming and developed mats, even with short hair. Colt has been the opposite on symptoms - stopped eating and is lethargic. Actually worse since started meds. Waiting for latest blood work. For both, their coats became dryer, less sleek. One of the links says the BPA in canned food is a contributing factor, especially fish in cans. I stopped feeding fish years ago, primarily over concerns of mercury & pesticides.

  5. I had a hyperthyroid cat a few years back... well, that was really just one in a cascading series of things that got her, so who knows which thing caused which. Her main symptoms were weight loss, drinking a lot, and being extremely antsy and vocal... she seriously wouldn't let me sleep at ALL!

    Her boodwork kept coming back normal though, until finally I went to a specialist who did some other kind of blood test that finally showed what the problem was. Of course by that time she had developed CRF (chronic renal failure) and then lung cancer... it was a downhill spiral.

    We still don't know exactly what happened to the Fluffers either. The X-rays showed an enlarged heart, plus his blood sugar was off the charts. Since he was CatMan's cat - CatMan and I don't actually live together so I didn't see Fluffy every day - so it's hard for me to know what behavioral signs might or might not have been there.

    CatMan is rather vet-phobic, having lost three animals to negligence and/or plain old stupidity (bordering on malpractice in my opinion) on the part of several different veterinarians, so he never took Fluffy in for regular checkups. But he certainly hadn't shown any weight loss, or extreme drinking, or loss of energy... In fact, he was running and playing right up to the moment that he had the thrombosis... so who knows.

    We also don't even know how old he was, since he was an adopted stray. CatMan had him for 10 years, and there was a lady in the neighborhood who had seen him around for 5 years before that... so he was at least 15 - not a spring chicken by any stretch of the imagination.

    It's just so frustrating... you want to do what's best for them, but it's nearly impossible to know what the best thing actually is. I even wrote to virtually all of the companies making high end canned cat food, and asked them about BPA (having read the same thing you mentioned re the connection between BPA and hyperthyroid.) Every single company told me that there is no BPA in the 5.5 or 6 ounce pull top cans, but there IS BPA in the larger 12 ounce cans... this is exactly the opposite of what I've read elsewhere.

    Then there's the whole dry food conundrum... is it good or is it evil? I've got one who practically won't eat anything but dry food, and he's the healthiest of the bunch, at least in terms of energy, strength and body weight. For dry food, I only feed them EVO (grain free) so hopefully it's better than the cheaper alternatives, and I NEVER feed them fish.

    I even read somewhere that the bromine flame retardants that they use in our furniture and carpets end up turning into dust, which the cats get on their fur and end up ingesting, and that this can cause hyperthyroid and/or CRF. So how do you avoid that? Get hardwood floors and folding chairs? I mean I've always admired the Amish, but I don't know that I'm that much of a minimalist!

    On some level, I'm coming to the conclusion that try as we might, so much of this stuff is just plain out of our control... as it is with our own health. We do the best we can, but at some point we just have to let go and let them live out their own karma.

    Right now, I feel like I just want to love em up real good while I've got em, because you just can't control what's gonna happen. Everybody's getting lots of extra hugs and kisses around here these days... that's for sure.

  6. Well, as you probably figured out, it was your post about Fluffers that spurred my investigation. Trust me, I'm not far from Catman's position. In fact, the medical profession, in general, seems to playing darts when diagnosing period, most of the time.

    We're living in a chemical soup and our animals risk much more exposure than we do. They are more likely to ingest or inhale the nasty stuff that our furniture, floors, paint, etc contain.

    I feed mostly Pure-Vita grain free & Solid Gold Indigo Moon. I am certain that all canned food - ours & theirs - contains BPA. I tried switching to raw, but I'm a creature of habit. It's tough to change routines for me. And some of the cats just wouldn't touch it, while the others scarfed it down. Most of my cats are 10 & older, which is when "stuff" starts setting in. Pretty much working to pay the vet.....

  7. I hear you. I've always been sort of on the fence about vets... but when I finally convinced Princess to come inside the first thing they wanted to do was vaccinate her... then when she had 2 seizures they insisted it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the vaccines.

    I dunno... I'm not opposed to vaccines in general, I mean, I'm glad I don't have to worry about small pox or polio, but it just seems like common sense never really enters into the equation. How likely is it that a cat who is never allowed outdoors, is going to encounter rabies?

    Still, after spending upwards of $5000 on Mow's vet bills (the hyperthyroid cat I described above) I finally decided to get pet insurance. Still not sure if it's worth it or not... it's about $80/month for all 4 of them, but at least if somebody gets sick I don't have to worry about the financial part of the equation.

    Speaking of nasty stuff and dust... maybe I should vacuum...

  8. I wonder what it would cost for about 25 cats? Is it just major medical? Spent over $500 today to pull all of Campbell's teeth. Thank you credit card! So what's the name of the insurance company.

  9. 25 cats?!? Seriously? OMG you must be the bravest person I have ever "met." My 4 have nearly pushed me over the edge, I can't even imagine 25! NO wonder you're drowning in vet bills!

    I went with a company called PetsBest ( Maybe you could call them and see if you could get some sort of group discount! It doesn't cover routine visits or dental (unless the dental is from some injury or something other than age related periodontal disease). So far I've only used it once when Princess tried to scratch Jasper's eye out. But they paid the claim quickly with no issues.

  10. that's down from 39 at one point. Yeah, the vet bills have been over the moon. I don't think I would mind as much if the cats got a definitive diagnosis and a plan to make them better. I don't know, give me $250 just doesn't sit well. It's a lot like human healthcare at Centra Care - a urgent care office. I had to have to crying fit several years ago to get a prescription for an MRI. The 14 year old doctor said - no break in your leg, come back in a week if it still hurts. Got the MRI - fractured tibia and almost completely torn meniscus. That leg and knee still hurt to this day. But Campbell ate a bit this AM and I stopped & picked up a piece of broied chicken. His ears perked up and he started following me around the house. Gave him a bit and he scarfed it down. WHOO-HOO. Toothless, but hungry & eating.

  11. Excellent post. I'm dealing with a few of these issues as well..

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