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hyperthyroidism in cats

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Our 14 yo cat has just been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Anyone had experience with this? At this point we've been given pills to give her to help get her stabilized and her weight back up a bit (she has lost a lot), and she goes back for more bloodwork in 3 weeks. My husband took her in, so I've got some additional questions I'm hoping someone who's been there, done that might be able to help with:


Is she really going to need bloodwork every 3 weeks as long as she's on the medication or just until she gets more stabilized?

Do they tend to stabilize fairly quickly?

They said that they recommend radiation treatment once she's stabilized given her age. If she has the radiation, will she have to have thyroid replacement meds after that? How expensive are they?

We've been giving all of the cats the Science diet c/d that we have to feed another cat with urinary tract problems, because it is easier than trying to keep them separated at meals---will this be any sort of an issue for her ongoing?


Any advice will be helpful---this will make all three of our cats special needs. We have one on phenobarb x2 per day for seizure control, the other on the special diet for FLUTD and now the hyperthyroid in the third.

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Some things that sometimes come along with hyperthyroidism: weight loss, frequent vomiting, sometimes diarrhea, occasional loss of apetite.


Please discuss this stuff with your vet - I can only speak anecdotally from my own experience with our cats.


Often the frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea is caused by inflamed organs. Daily prednisone can alleviate this. Occasionally the cat has a bad day and throws up a few times in spite of the regular dose. In this case an extra dose of prednisone for one or two days can fix the problem.


If the cat stops eating, get an apetite stimulant from the vet - you may find it advisable to keep some around anyway. As soon as the cat stops eating for a day, get some of this and some prednisone into them and they usually are fine very quickly.


If the cat is vomiting, has diarrhea, stops eating, etc. watch for signs of dehydration. The vet can administer IV fluids to restore hydration.


I have found with older cats who suffer from excessive thinness, vomiting and diarrhea (with or without hyperthyoidism), that daily prednisone and frequent, smaller meals work very well.

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My mother's cat has hyperthyroidism and her dog actually has epilepsy as well. I called her to ask about this and she told me that initially the cat was tested a month after beginning hormone replacement and then every 6 months once the levels were stable.


As far as the radiation, my mother's cat didn't have that done.


Here is what I found when I googled treatment options for cats with hyperthyroidism. It seems that radioactive iodine is the preferred method of treatment because it is done once and then requires no further treatment or medication.


I hope your kitty feels better soon.



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We had a hyperthyroid cat for several years. Due to her age and our location (not near a place that did radiation) we opted to not do the radiation; instead we treated with medication. Frankly, she was about the age of your cat, but the vet advised that she would probably die of old age before we spent the equivalent amount in medication that the radiation treatment would cost.


Pill costs vary depending on where you live. When we were in small town Ohio they were pretty cheap. We got them from a pharmacy -- the vet wrote a prescription. Actually, since the cat was horrendous to give a pill to, we went to a compounding pharmacy that made a cream that I rubbed on the inside of her ears, where it was absorbed into the skin. I had to wear gloves to do this so it wouldn't absorb into MY skin.


When we moved to Missouri we discovered that vets here sell the pills directly -- no need to go to the pharmacy. And here in St. Louis getting a special compound was cost-prohibitive (heck, the Ohio cream cost less than the St. Louis pills). So, we switched techniques -- I ground up a pill and gave it to her in a bit of food (canned). She was ALWAYS hungry (typical for hyperthyroid cats), so she would gobble it up. Then I'd feed her a regular meal.


She actually gained weight when we switched to giving her ground-up pills twice a day. The vet was very impressed by this. No clue if it was because she was actually getting more in her system or what.


Once we had our dosage figured out we just visited the vet every 6 months for a quick check up.


When we had to be away from home we had someone stop by to give her the food-pill combo. Our vets said that precise timing of medication wasn't so important with hyperthyroid treatment as it is with, say, diabetes.


At the very end we started having problems with getting her to eat -- she was about 17 years old at the time. It was at this point we switched to a raw diet, plus sometimes gave her chicken baby food -- always mixed with the ground up pill. Sometimes I ground up the pill and put it in a teaspoon of chicken baby food, fed that to her first, then gave her a regular meal -- that way I made sure she was getting the medication. In retrospect I think that she had problems with the cat food we were feeding her for a long, long time -- many cats are sensitive to wheat, and I think she was one of them. I suspect if we'd figured that out earlier those last few months would've gone more smoothly. But, hey, that's hindsight.


Overall, I think this is an easier problem to manage than many. It's extremely common.

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Your cat is on methimazole (Tapazole)?


Here is a good summary of the drug:




In general, blood testing is less frequent after the first 3 months. If your cat is a candidate for radioactive iodine and has that treatment it generally will not need medication after that. If it did need thyroid supplement, it is cheap. Ask your vet about diet, but generally as long as kidney function remains good, cats can stay on their regular diet.



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Thanks for the responses. Currently she has been prescribed Tapazol twice a day and Denamarin once a day. I think the Denamarin is because some of her liver levels were off (per my husband, the vet said the liver functions were okay, but the vet thinks the levels of some of the tests were elevated due to the stress from the hyperthyroidism). She has lost a lot of weight and been vomiting up her food frequently (which is why she was at the vet), so we are hoping this will help. Her appetite is good, activity level is good, behavior is good, etc.


The cost/benefit ratio is something I want to look at with this in making the decision about radiation vs. medication. My husband thought that she would need bloodwork every 3 weeks, but based on our experience with the phenobarb, I am anticipating that it will be initially somewhat frequent then spread out as she stabilizes. That will decrease the cost of the medication route substantially. I've seen online a recommendation to check out the centers within reasonable driving distance who do the radiation to see what they charge as it can vary substantially, so I will be doing that before we commit to anything with the radiation.


From what I have read they also want to make sure that the hyperthyroid issues aren't masking some underlying kidney issues as well, which might make radiation less advisable. We already have a great relationship with a compounding pharmacy who helps us with the Phenobarb, so I will be talking with them as well. I don't think pilling this cat is going to be easy.......especially since the Denamarin has to be taken an hour before eating.

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I finally took her off the meds (she was requiring more meds to deal with the side effects of the first meds...) I fed her kitten food and she made it two more years to the age of 18. I would never do the meds again w/o trying a good quality high fat kitten food first.

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