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Hypothyroidism in Cats - Signs of an Underactive Thyroid

While the words hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism look similar and can cause confusion for concerned cat parents, these conditions are very different. Here is some information to help you understand the differences.

What is a thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland that produces a number of hormones that help to regulate many processes in your cat's body, including metabolic rate. Cats have 2 thyroid glands located in their neck.

What is the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition that is characterized by an underactive thyroid that is not producing enough of the hormones that are essential to maintaining a healthy metabolism. 

On the other hand, if your cat's thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, then your kitty is suffering from hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a rare condition in our feline friends whereas hyperthyroidism is fairly common in senior cats.

What causes hypothyroidism in cats?

Hypothyroidism is most often seen in cats who have undergone surgery or iodine therapy as a treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). That said, in very rare cases this condition can be caused by cancer, iodine deficiency or congenital disease (thyroid gland abnormalities).

What are the signs of hypothyroidism in cats?

The low levels of thyroid hormones seen in cats with hypothyroidism lead to a slowing of the cat's metabolism which can result in symptoms such as cold intolerance, weight gain, hair loss or matting, lethargy, weakness or low body temperature.

If your kitty shows any of the symptoms above contact your vet to schedule an examination for your pet. The above symptoms can indicate hypothyroidism in cats, however, they can also be related to other serious conditions that require veterinary care.

Can hypothyroidism in cats be treated?

For many cats with hypothyroidism, no treatment is necessary. That said, if your pet's symptoms are severe your vet may prescribe synthetic hormone supplements, and schedule follow-up blood tests to monitor your kitty's overall health and hormone levels. A modified diet containing reduced fat may also be recommended for your cat while they are recovering from hypothyroidism.

Typically cats recover well from hypothyroidism, with a notable improvement in their health seen in a short period of time.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat in need of urgent veterinary care? Visit our emergency animal hospital in Tuscon any time you need urgent care for your pet outside of your regular vet's hours. Has your cat been diagnosed with a serious medical issue that requires specialized care? Contact our Tucson specialty vets today to book a consultation. 

Hypothyroidism in Cats - Signs of an Underactive Thyroid

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