Hyperthyroidism or an over active thyroid is a common condition of older cats. A small and normally benign growth on the thyroid gland causes it to release too much hormone. This results in a metabolism stuck in 5th gear when it should be ticking along in 2nd gear! Your cat may have an elevated heart rate and blood pressure, may be starving hungry but lose weight despite eating everything in sight, may have increased thirst, be passing increased amount of urine or have diarrhoea or may vomit frequently. These cats tend to be vocal and yowl-y and will often be quite active for an older cat. Not all cats will have all of these signs.
A blood test is required to confirm the diagnosis. In many cases early disease can be picked up on routine geriatric blood screens before significant signs even develop - the best time to uncover a disease!
Left untreated hyperthyroidism will place great stress on the body and heart and lead to significant problems. But the great news is this is a very treatable and even curable disease and cats managed well can expect to enjoy a fabulous quality of life.
Treatment options range from medications given as a tablet to medications rubbed on the inner ear. That's right - the medication is absorbed across the skin of the ear! Nifty!
Cure is possible with administration of radioactive iodine. Just like in treatment of people, radioactive iodine is administered and taken up by just the thyroid. This carefully calculated dose will destroy just enough of the overactive thyroid to leave your cat humming alone in the normal range. Sounds rather dramatic but it's actually super low impact. Kitty has an injection or a pill then hangs out in a special boarding facility for a few days till the levels of radiation drop back to normal and then home!
So, watch for signs of a super charged older cat and make sure your older cat is having annual geriatric blood tests. Treatment and even cure is very possible and then your kitty can cruise through their golden days at a sensible pace!