hyperthyroidism in cats: related diseases
Hyperthyroidism itself is generally a straightforward disease to diagnose and treat. However, it can cause (and hide!) other diseases in your cat’s body. Namely, hyperthyroidism can cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hypertension, and it can hide renal disease. Of course, there are other conditions that may afflict a hyperthyroid feline, but these three are the most common. Shall we dive into a few more specifics regarding these diseases? I think so!
The elevated thyroid hormones coursing through a hyperthyroid cat’s body stimulate the heart muscle to beat faster and harder. As a result, the heart itself (most notably the left ventricle) thickens in order to meet these new demands. If left untreated, this thickening can actually compromise the heart’s ability to function, which can lead to even more problems. The good news? Once the hyperthyroidism is controlled, these changes will often improve or completely resolve over time.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Elevated blood pressure can damage tissue throughout your cat’s body including their eyes, kidneys, heart and brain. Some hyperthyroid cats will need medications to help control their hypertension. Once the hyperthyroidism is controlled, the hypertension may improve or completely resolve. Some cats develop hypertension long after treatment has been initiated, so don’t be surprised if your vet is adamant about checking your cat’s blood pressure at regular intervals after being diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. The sooner hypertension is found, the better chance you have at keeping it controlled and preventing damage to other tissues.
Renal (kidney) disease
Hyperthyroidism can mask or hide renal disease in our feline friends. What exactly does this mean? This means that cats with hyperthyroidism may have kidney disease, but it isn’t evident until after the hyperthyroidism is controlled. This is why your veterinarian will want to run a chemistry profile (blood work) before AND after your cat is diagnosed and treated for hyperthyroidism (and then at regular intervals thereafter). This way, if there is kidney damage, your veterinarian can make recommendations to treat this disease as well.
Don’t let this discourage you from treating your cat’s hyperthyroidism: both diseases, if left uncontrolled, can be life threatening to your cat. The good news? We have an entire spectrum of therapeutic options (including supplements, diets, medications, etc.) to choose from to treat hyperthyroidism and renal disease, as well as cat insurance from Petplan to help cope with the vet bills. These cats can (and DO!) live long, happy healthy lives even after their diagnosis.
The most important thing to remember is this: keep an open line of communication between yourself and your veterinarian so that you can determine the best course of action for your feline friend. As we all know, there isn’t a single cat in this world that is exactly like another; that’s why we love them so! So the more your vet knows, the better off you and your furry friend will be.