Cat Thyroid Problems

My cat is starving and so skinny

by JoAnne
(Fresno, CA)

Molly - before all this started!

Molly - before all this started!

My female Turkish Van was always plump and a happy, healthy cat until about 6 months ago when she rapidly lost weight. She seems to be starving all the time even though she has free choice at all times with her food. She will grab anything she can from your plate or on the counter, even onions. No matter how much she eats, she never puts on weight. I am so afraid for her. She continues to be sweet and loving. I am disabled and on a low fixed income or I would already have taken her to my Vet. Please help us. I am including a picture of Molly well before all of her health problems started.


Dear JoAnne,

I am so sorry that you are having such a hard time, both financially and with your precious Molly. With the economy, many people are in a very similar situation.

The symptoms you described could be caused by many different things. Even though I do not know Molly’s age, it seems most likely that her increased appetite and extreme weight loss are the result of hyperthyroidism, especially if she is 8 years of age or older. Without an exam and treatment from a veterinarian, she will unfortunately continue to deteriorate and ultimately pass away from her condition, if it is hyperthyroidism.

For those in your situation financially, there is a financing program called Care Credit available that is accepted by many veterinarians. Care Credit is not a credit card, but is applied for in a similar way. Once approved, they offer low- or no-interest payments for both veterinary and human medical services.

You could also contact veterinarians in your area to see if any are offering reduced rates, running promotions, or allowing payments over time for their services. I would also ask family and friends if they would be able to assist you, either in bringing Molly to the vet or paying for her care.

Fortunately, if your kitty does in fact have hyperthyroidism, treatment is easy and affordable. The largest cost involved will be for the examination and bloodwork to diagnose the cause of her weight loss.

Best wishes to you and Molly,
Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

UPDATE: On Molly - You Were Right On!

by JoAnne
(Fresno, CA)


Thank you so much for helping me with Molly. When I told you about her symptoms you thought her problem sounded like Hyperthyroidism. I took her to my Vet yesterday and her blood work showed that yes, she has Hyperthyroid. You were 100% right on! Thank you!


Hi JoAnne,

Thank you for the update. That is great news! I'm so happy that Molly has been diagnosed. Hyperthyroidism is one of the best possible causes for Molly's symptoms because it is so easily treated.

Thank you for your kind, warm letter. I wish you both all the best!

Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Feline Hyperthyroidism: Is it, or is it not?

by JoAnne
(CA)

I have posted here before about my cat Molly having Hyperthyroidism and being on Methimazole every day. She has been on this for three months with no visible difference.

Could it be something else like feline diabetes? What are the signs of this? When she had her blood tested initially, there was also a question of cat diabetes. How can I tell? Wouldn't she be looking better after three months on this medication?

She is still eating well and acting fine, just still skinny. Thanks.


Dear Joanne,

It can take some time for a cat with feline hyperthyroidism to begin to put on weight, and many different factors can contribute to this. I believe I have already answered this question is your previous submission where I addressed you being worried that maybe Molly doesn't have Feline Hyperthyroidism.

As I said before, it is not uncommon to have a cat suffering from two conditions concurrently, such as feline hyperthyroidism and feline diabetes. So, at your next visit with your veterinarian, I recommend discussing your concerns and confusion about your cat's initial bloodwork, and discuss the next best steps in treating her.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Molly's Feline Hyperthyroidism Update

by JoAnne
(Fresno, CA)


Hi~ I know I've written you before concerning my cat Molly and her feline hyperthyroidism problems. What I would like to know is how vital(?) is it that my kitty have frequent blood tests done? I can't afford to go to the veterinarian every 3 weeks for blood tests. I would do anything I can to help her and am paying for Methimizole refills as needed.

My cat has been on her feline medication for approximately a month and a half with no blood tests. She seems to be slowly improving and putting a little weight back on, acts more like herself, playing, etc. So, if I can't get her blood-work done on a regular basis, am I putting her cat health in danger?

Thanks for your help and good advice in previous "questions."
JoAnne


Dear JoAnne,

Unless your cat's thyroid level has gotten to a normal range since you last wrote, going so long without rechecking your kitty's bloodwork does put her in danger. The danger is that, over time, uncontrolled feline hyperthyroidism will severely damage your cat's heart.

Once a normal thyroid level has been achieved with her feline medication dose, she could go three or four months without being rechecked. However, until that thyroid level is within normal limits, without rechecking every three weeks, there is no way to know whether she is getting the appropriate dose of her cat medication.

Even though she seems to be improving with her symptoms of feline hyperthyroidism, regular bloodwork is really the only way to know if your cat's condition is under control.

Best wishes to you and Molly,
Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Hyperthyroidism and Water

by JoAnne
(Fresno)

Molly

Molly

Why do cats with Hyperthyroidism drink so much water? Between wanting to eat everything that's not nailed down, she is constantly gulping down the water. Why is that?

I just took her in for her latest blood test and found that she needed an increase in her medication from half a pill twice a day to one pill in the morning and a half pill in the evening. Is she ever going to put any weight on? With all she eats, I keep hoping but so far she still looks like a walking skeleton.


Without going into a really complicated explanation of thirst, suffice it to say that your body maintains a certain level of fluids, and your level of thirst is your body’s way of telling you it needs more or less fluid.

Thirst can increase normally if you lose a lot of fluid, such as during a workout. When an excess of thyroid hormone is present, the entire body is affected and metabolic rate increases, in many ways like during a workout and you use up fluids and feel thirsty. When your cat drinks more, she also needs to urinate more.

If your kitty is still drinking more than normal, then her thyroid level is not yet under control. It often takes a few visits with blood tests spread out over time to find the right dosage of thyroid medication to treat hyperthyroidism.

It is very important to get the dosage just right because of the horrible effects hyperthyroidism can have on the entire body, but especially the heart. While many cats do put weight back on as their thyroid level is adjusted, most never become as heavy as they once were.

It is not important for a cat to go back to weighing what she did before she developed hyperthyroidism. It is important to give the right dosage of medication so that the levels of thyroid in the body are normal and the heart and other organs are not adversely affected.

Keep taking her for the blood tests until our veterinarian knows that the thyroid hormone level is normal and then have regular rechecks after that and your cat should do well.

Best, Dr. Neely

By the way, Molly is VERY beautiful!

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Molly's Hyperthyroidism

by JoAnne
(Central CA)


I have been giving Molly her Methimazole pills directly into her mouth and then stroking her throat until she swallows. Once in a while I find a pill on the floor, but rarely. She had her original blood work done and the paper sent to me from the lab was a little confusing as it said in one place that the results showed Hyperthyroidism and in another place it said Diabetes. That's why I wondered what she really had. She is due for another test in a week or so. Between the blood-work and the office visit it is very expensive which is why I have to wait for a couple of weeks to be able to go back for another test. I have always wondered why veterinarian visits, injections, and diagnosis, etc. are as expensive or more so that when we ourselves go to the doctor. It makes it very hard to come up with the money for the things that need to be done. Also makes me feel bad.


Dear JoAnne,

Veterinarians actually charge significantly less than doctors that treat humans. The difference, however, is that human health insurance often covers much of the cost. Too many pet owners do not have pet health insurance for their animals, which is definitely a necessity today. To learn more about pet health insurance, please view our page on cat insurance.

If you have not done so already, you may want to look into a no- or low-interest line of credit from CareCredit. CareCredit is not a credit card, but offers payment plans for medical and veterinary bills. Your veterinarian should be able to provide more information on this program.

Veterinarians and their technicians are actually horribly underpaid. Veterinarians attend 4 years of college and then 4 years of veterinary school, often with loans totaling between $100,000 and $200,000, and upon graduation and starting their own practices, take years to even begin to break even. Also, please keep in mind that veterinarians must obtain knowledge of dozens of species of animals, while their human counterparts only gain knowledge of one species. And, while human doctors specialize in one to a few types of treatment, veterinarians must be cardiologists, internists, surgeons, dentists, and ophthalmologists, just to name a few of the many hats we wear.

So, while I completely understand the financial concerns you have, please know that you have options for helping to absorb the costs you are incurring while trying to take care of Molly, and that your veterinarian is likely getting by as best as he or she can financially.

It is not uncommon to have a cat suffering from two conditions concurrently, such as feline hyperthyroidism and feline diabetes. At your next visit with your veterinarian, I recommend discussing your concerns and confusion about your cat's initial bloodwork, and discuss the next best steps in treating her.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Worried that maybe Molly doesn't have Feline Hyperthyroid

by JoAnne
(Fresno, CA)

Molly when she was healthy

Molly when she was healthy

Molly

Molly

Molly when she was healthy
Molly

Molly has been on Methimazole for 4 weeks now and I really don't see much of an improvement in her weight or her hunger. She is still ravenous and all she wants to do is eat, preferably my food! It has become no pleasure for me to eat my meals anymore because I have to guard my plate and keep pushing her away constantly because she will snag my food right off of my plate. I don't like to see her like this and I don't like to not give her my food, but, I know it's not good for her, so I have to keep pushing her away. Could she have diabetes instead of hyperthyroidism? I will be taking her back to the veterinarian for another blood test soon, but I would very much like your opinion here. Thank you.


Dear JoAnne,

I would imagine that your veterinarian would have tested your cat Molly's blood glucose when he/she initially tested for feline hyperthyroidism. It can take quite some time for thyroid levels to regulate with medication, and her dose may need to be higher. She will likely need to continue getting blood tests every 3-4 weeks until her dosage is just right for her.

Also, how her medication is being given can affect how well she is responding to her cat hyperthyroidism treatment. Are you giving her the pills directly in her mouth or crushing it in her food? If your kitty is getting her medication in her food, her dose may not be as consistent.

However, if your cat's blood glucose has not been tested, it would be wise to do so at her next visit to the veterinarian. Please feel free to write back with updates on your cat's progress!

All the best,
Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Thyroid Surgery For Molly

by JoAnne
(Fresno, CA)

You're Not Leaving Without Me Again

You're Not Leaving Without Me Again

This Is Me - Molly

This Is Me - Molly

You're Not Leaving Without Me Again
This Is Me - Molly

Would it be better for my cat, Molly, to have her thyroid removed and therefore wouldn't the problem of Hyperthyroidism be also removed? In other words wouldn't my cat's problem go away?

I really don't know much about this option, but it is one option my Veterinarian gave me for her. Can you explain to me what that kind of surgery would involve and what the results would be?

Thank you. I really depend on your good advice.


Hi, JoAnne,

Surgery as a treatment for hyperthyroidism is certainly one option. There are basically 3 options for treatment of feline hyperthyroidism. (1) Medication (2) Surgery (3) Radioactive Iodine Treatment

Medication does not cure hyperthyroidism. Surgery can. However, it is always important to try medication first so that you know how a cat's kidneys are going to react to the decreased level of thyroid hormone. If kidney function remains good after using medication to bring the thyroid hormone level to normal, then surgery can be a successful cure most of the time.

The radioactive iodine treatment is actually the best treatment of all for feline hyperthyroidism, but it is not readily accessible in all parts of the country and involves a longer stay in the hospital and can be expensive.

Talk to your veterinarian and don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to in order to understand your options.

Best Wishes to you and to Molly! She is so beautiful and looks so sweet!

Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

How Long before Feline Hyperthyroidism Treatment Shows Results?

by JoAnne
(Fresno, CA)

Molly Cat

Molly Cat

I have been treating Molly cat for hyperthyroidism for about 2 1/2 weeks with Methimazole 5 mg split in half two times a day. My question is how long before I will see any improvement of any kind? Ravenous hunger, crying for food, all the things she started out with?


Hi JoAnne,

Your vet should be rechecking Molly's bloodwork at the 3-week mark after she began taking the medication to make sure her dosage is appropriate. Ideally, you would start to notice a decrease in ravenous appetite, less begging for food, less frequent drinking and urination, and a little weight gain by that time if her current dosage is working to maintain her thyroid levels. Her symptoms may not improve until her medication is adjusted to the appropriate dose, which can be determined by your vet based on her next bloodwork levels.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

Return to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

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