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Hyperthyroidism - Treatments for Cats

Jake, My Best Friend
Jake, My Best Friend
Sheree L. Ciao

I found Jake wandering around in my then apartment complex, meowing, hungry, looking for his owner. He didn't know his owner bailed in the middle of the night and left him behind. I fed him every morning before work, and when I returned home late at night, there he was, waiting for me in my parking spot. After a couple of weeks of this same routine, I took him in. He was battered and bruised from outdoor cat fights, skinny, and his coat was dull and matted. I took him to my vet where she vaccinated, neutered, and gave him a much needed grooming. That was 13 years ago. He's been my best friend since.

Jake is a beautiful Main Coon and weighed in at 22 lbs two years after I rescued him. He always had a hearty appetite, but the last two months, it's been ferocious. I no sooner would feed him, and a half hour later, he would be pacing and begging for more. When I noticed a significant weight loss, I knew it was time for a doctor's appointment. After the exam and bloodwork, he was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism. He went from 22 lbs to 13 lbs in less than a year. Hyperthyroidism could lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, and if left untreated, I could lose Jake.

There are four options for Hyperthyroidism in cats.

1. Oral Medication. Twice a day for the rest of the cat's life. It doesn't destroy the abnormal thyroid, but prevents the production of the excess thyroid hormone. Like any medication, there are side effects, though minimal in most cats, but might show up six months later. Vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, fever, anemia. Periodic blood tests must be done to keep the dosage regulated.

2. Surgery. Removal of the affected thyroid lobe(s) Very affective, but because hyperthyroid cats are usually over 8 years old, there a some risks involved. The cat must be treated with an anti-thyroid medication for several weeks before the surgury. Outcome is excellent, however, recurrence is possible if any abnormal cells are left behind.

3. Radioactive Iodine. Requires one-two weeks of hospitalization at a veterinary hospital licensed to administer radiation therapy. Precautions must be taken once back home after treatment, especially around other cats, litter boxes, food, etc. Outcome is excellent, however, very expensive.

4. Diet. Last but not least, a treatment planned I've always believed in: a good diet to reverse the disease, or at least prevent it from getting worse.

No side effects, no fighting to get the pills down, no post-op surgery worries. My vet put Jake on a Prescription Diet, Hills Feline Thyroid Health Dry and Wet food. ( Jake didn't go for the wet, but loves the dry. It takes about 3 weeks to see results, but I've already noticed Jake is not as hungry, and is sleeping better.

Eating right restores both the mind and body, in both people and animals, something most of us forget in this fast paced world. What we put in our bodies makes or breaks us. And for Jake, this positive change for his health may keep him by my side another 12 years.

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