Feline Hyperthyroidism: How Diet Can Help Your Hyperthyroid Cat Get Back on Its Feet

Has your cat continued to lose weight despite you giving it nutrient-rich foods every day? The cat's digestive system isn't the problem; its thyroid gland might be to blame.Hyperthyroidism is a severe disorder among cats. A cat develops hyperthyroidism when the thyroid gland—found in the neck—secretes excess thyroid hormone into the circulation system.

A cat with hyperthyroidism will not just show increased appetite and weight loss; it will also drink a lot of water, urinate frequently at different points in the house, have a poor coat, become restless (overactive), have difficulty breathing, look depressed and weak, vomit and diarrhoea periodically and show 'cranky' behaviour or aggressiveness. However, diet can help you manage feline hyperthyroidism.

Will Dietary Management Help Your Hyperthyroid Cat?

If the vet confirms your cat suffers from hyperthyroidism, they will put it on a special diet to manage the condition. The veterinarian may prescribe an iodine-restricted diet for the cat and monitor its effect on the cat's overall health. The food meant for a hyperthyroid cat should have minimal iodine levels. If iodine intake is reduced, a smaller amount of thyroid hormone will be secreted. If the cat takes the iodine-restricted diet for a month, the thyroid hormone levels in the blood would decrease and finally normalise.

What Food Should the Cat Eat After Radioactive Iodine Therapy?

During radioactive iodine therapy, the veterinarian injects the cat with radioactive iodine that gets into the bloodstream within a short time. The cat's thyroid gland takes up both T3 and T4 from the iodine solution, while the emitted radiation damages the abnormal thyroid tissues without destroying the surrounding parathyroid glands.

Give your cat high-energy and high-protein foods after radioactive iodine therapy to help it gain back the muscle mass and weight it lost. However, maintain moderate protein levels if the cat has a kidney problem. If you give the hyperthyroid cat too much protein, it may develop kidney disease. Provide adequate clean water and give the cat canned food with high water content to help it regulate overproduction of thyroid hormone and urine. Once the cat has gained a healthy amount of weight, you can adjust its diet depending on its nutritional requirements.

How Does the Vet Diagnose Feline Hyperthyroidism?

A vet examines the cat's neck area and palpates it to feel if the thyroid gland is enlarged and then checks the pet's blood pressure and heart rate. If the veterinarian suspects hyperthyroidism, they will take a blood sample from the cat and analyse the thyroid hormone levels in its circulation. Elevated thyroid hormone levels in the pet's bloodstream confirm the endocrine disorder.

However, a hyperthyroid cat could have normal thyroid levels in the blood. In this case, the vet would carry out some additional tests to affirm the glandular disorder. Hyperthyroidism can predispose your cat to kidney and heart diseases, and that's why the veterinarian performs urinalysis and blood chemistry to assess the cat's general health and find out if the disorder has affected other organs.