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Hyperthyroidism in cats

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by Caracoveney, Aug 17, 2019.


  1. Caracoveney

    Caracoveney PetForums Newbie

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    My vet has suspected that Lucy, one of my cats, may have hyperthyroidism. She also has pancreatitis and a heart murmur. As far as we know, her age is nearly 10 years old. At the moment, I am saving to have the appropriate blood tests done (I am in a debt management scheme but make sure that my cats get the best foods, rather than me spending a lot on my own food - before anyone says that I shouldn't have cats, this is a fairly recent situation. When I got my cats, years ago, I was pretty well off.)

    Lucy has all the signs of hyperthyroidism - huge appetite, losing weight, over-active etc, and I have been looking at the alternative treatments. There seems to be a problem with all of them.

    1) Radioactive iodine - this seems to be hugely expensive and the cat has to stay either at the vet's or stay well away from other animals and humans until all the radioactivity has cleared.
    2) Surgery - not recommended for older cats, and some parts of the thyroid may be left behind. Also very expensive.
    3) A diet purely of Hills very low iodine food and absolutely NOTHING else. Difficult to monitor as I have two other cats, and also she absolutely HATES any of the 'prescription' foods that I have tried her on. She may eat a bit of one tin but I guarantee that she will be clamouring for her favourite normal food before the day is out. MAKING her eat it is cruel, and she just won't, and she will lose even MORE weight and end up with liver disease.
    4. A daily dose of Methimazole - I am on my own and have no-one to help locally to help administer. Lucy is very clever at spitting out/leaving tablets, even if crumbled. There is a liquid version but this will end up being hugely expensive over time and I literally will not have enough money to buy it unless I stop eating altogether. Also it has quite serious side effects - bear in mind that she has pancreatitis and a heart murmur as well.

    I am not sure if my pet insurance will cover any of these treatments as the insurance company may think that it is linked to her pancreatitis (I gather that hyperthyroidism can cause pancreatitis and they will no doubt find any excuse not to pay up) as they will NOT cover anything to do with pancreatitis (even though it's the result and not the cause of her hyperthyroidism).
     
  2. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

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    Why do you say surgery is not recommended for older cats? My cat had hyperthyroidism aged 11, and had the surgery, it worked well and she lived another 5 years. She had a few weeks of medication first, to get her levels down. She wasn't insured but the surgery was much less than I expected, £250 (which I realise is a lot of money if you don't have it). I understand your cat has other health issues too so this may complicate matters, but unless your vet has told you it isn't possible, I'd consider that option.

    Hopefully you insurance will cover the cost.
     
  3. Sacremist

    Sacremist Mum to 2 cats and a dog

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    One of my cats was operated on at 13, he had a kidney removed and he lived another two years. I still consider it worth every penny because I treasured every day of those two years.
     
  4. Caracoveney

    Caracoveney PetForums Newbie

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    Hi. I was just going by the sites online, and they all seemed to be reluctant to recommend surgery - however, it is very heartening to read that your cat has gone through the surgery, living for another 5 years, when it may well have been his 'time' anyway, at age 16. Personally, it would be my favoured route, if I was sure that it didn't need to be done again because they hadn't taken enough out (which is another 'scare story' I read!)

    Thank you so much for this as everything has been going round and round in my head with no clear solution in sight, and I didn't know which way to turn. I expected the surgery to cost a lot more, which is heartening. Much as I adore my cats, I do have to be practical right now with regards to money, which is why my own spending has plummeted to be able to keep my three cats in the luxury to which they are accustomed! I shall be able to get the blood tests done soon, as have been putting money aside for that, and for the excess on my pet insurance policies, from taking stuff to auctions. And, as you say, hopefully they will not associate the pancreatitis with the hyperthyroidism and pay for the operation.
     
  5. Caracoveney

    Caracoveney PetForums Newbie

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    Hallo. Thank you for your reply. I have replied to Ottery with what I would say to you. It is very heartening that your cat had an operation at 13 and still went on to have another couple of precious years with you. Thank you both.
     
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  6. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

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    I can't see any problem with surgery in a cat of 10+ unless they have existing health problems which preclude it (although of course there are risks with all surgery).

    My vet did say that only one of the two glands was affected, so he just removed that one. He said that meant it could recur later in her life, and it did - but as I say, she was 16, and had other health issues too by then. She was very hard to medicate - three weeks was bad enough! - and very timid (an ex feral) so I chose the treatment which would be least stressful for her, and it gave her a good life.

    I don't know if you've seen this link, I found it helpful when thinking about the types of treatment.

    https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-health/hyperthyroidism-overactive-thyroid-gland
     
  7. Arny

    Arny PetForums VIP

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  8. Caracoveney

    Caracoveney PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for that. I was just a bit worried, as Lucy's insurance doesn't cover her for anything to do with Pancreatitis (she has that also, as well as a heart murmur), that they may associate the thyroid problem with that (I read somewhere that hyperthyroidism can bring on the Pancreatitis).
     
  9. Caracoveney

    Caracoveney PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for the information. I saw somewhere online that there is a gel that can be used on their ear (of all places!) if they are unable to take tablets or the liquid. I don't know how effective it is, but presumably my vet will know of it. My little Lucy is a dear little thing but she is not the calmest or easygoing of cats (probably the thyroid problem if that's what she has), and I've always had trouble getting medication down her.
    My mind is a bit clearer now about what the options are, thank you so much.
     
  10. Sqwoo

    Sqwoo PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Everyone,

    This is my first post so I hope it is OK to ask for some advice. My cat, Dixie is 17 years old (I've had her since she was 5 weeks, she is literally my life), she was just diagnosed this week with Hyperthyroidism with a T4 level of 68 (which the vet said was very high). I took her because she wasn't eating. She's been a bit miserable lately, stopped grooming herself a while ago and the last few weeks has eaten less and less. The day before the vets she ate only 15g of wet food and the last few days sometimes she's ate nothing at all. We've been given tablets to give her twice a day which is awful for her but we were hoping they would kick in soon and she would get an appetite back.

    After doing some reading online and via this thread I can only assume she has Apathetic Hyperthyroidism because she has no appetite and is very depressed, anxious and lethargic. We narrowly avoided sedation for blood sample at the vets on Wednesday and i have an appointment for tomorrow. Over the last 5 days I have tried loads of different high calorie/high protein and fat foods for her. I have Royal Canin recovery liquid from the vets that she needs 150 mls force fed a day (she just won't eat it herself). Today I have managed 20 mls so far and yesterday I managed about 12ml. I was hoping she would have been eating a bit more now but I will have to take her in again tomorrow.

    She currently weighs 3.4kilo, which for her is really low, she used to average around just over 4 to 4.5kg. She also has dental pain and leg pain which makes its harder for her to get about. The vet said they may have to see about putting a tube in her so she can be fed directly. My concern with this is - as anything - sedation. With her age and ill health and being so weak I'm terrified of her being sedated and not waking back up. I've asked the vet the likelihood of something going wrong but they just said she's at a higher risk because of her age and health. I don't think we can feasibly force feed her 150 mls a day. She has already got so distressed by me shoving medication and food down her throat that she gets stressed by me now, even when I'm just petting her.

    I guess I know I have to do what is needed but I'm just wondering if anyone has had experience of an older cat being put under and being OK? Or if anyone can recommend any other ways to get food into her that I haven't thought of? Does anyone know how little food can cats survive on?

    Sorry for the long post, trying not to give up hope and keep getting food into her so the drugs can kick in, thanks for reading. x
     
  11. Soozi

    Soozi PetForums VIP

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    I’m so sorry to hear your poor little girl. I would be feeling much the same as you and my problem would be how much you or the vets can do to give her a decent quality of life. Have a conversation with your vet and get an honest opinion and also really think about your girl’s stress and pain levels, for her to be anxious even when you pet her must be just awful for both of you.
    I hope the vet can advise as to where you go from here and her chances of recovery.
    I’m so sorry she sounds so unwell. xxx
     
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  12. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

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    Hi @Sqwoo I am sorry to hear the sad reason which brings you here.
    I agree with Soozi. I think you have to consider what you want to achieve by sedating/tube feeding - is it going to result in her recovering and having a good quality of life? As you say, she is distressed, stressed, and in ill health, and I am sure you don't want her life to be like this, or to remember her this way. So have a conversation with your vet about what is best for her now. I completely sympathise with you, it's very upsetting, I am sure all of us on here have all had a similar situation with one of our cats.
     
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  13. Sqwoo

    Sqwoo PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks @Soozi and @Ottery. I agree, I really don't want her in pain, but then I also don't want to do something permanent if there is a chance that she will get better. After reading about the tube feeding and how it is done I don't want her going through that. She has managed a few hours of gravy licking every now and again so I reckon she must have had almost a portion of food today which is amazing compared to just this morning. She has settled down now and seems ok with me again thank god.

    My husband and I have decided to see how she gets on tonight and tomorrow morning without force feeding. This may sound strange but we've decided to go to the vets without her to update and report on her eating and to get a reasonable idea of how recovery can go. The worst days of not eating came after visiting the vet so I don't want to risk her being so distressed again when feasibly I'm not sure what they would do that they didn't already do earlier this week. If she did need anything further doing then we'll make another appointment and take her in then.

    Thanks to everyone for their posts on this thread, I've been reading through a lot and its been really helpful and answered a lot of questions that the vet didn't. Much love to all the fur-babies out there x
     
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  14. Soozi

    Soozi PetForums VIP

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    Hun you know your cat best. You must follow your gut feeling as to how much she can take being dragged to the vets. I am
    Keeping everything crossed that her feeling less stressed that she will start eating a bit more. Keep us posted. Healing vibes being sent! xxx
     
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  15. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

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    I am glad to hear she is choosing to eat now. I don't think it sounds odd at all to go to the vet without her - good idea. There is not point taking her back and forth, the vet has already seen her recently. I once made an appointment for my cat with IBD but didn't take him - he'd seen the vet a couple of times recently and I just wanted to talk about how he was and if we could do anything to improve things. Let us know how you get on.
     
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  16. Soozi

    Soozi PetForums VIP

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    How is Dixie today? Eating a little more on her own I hope.
     
  17. Sqwoo

    Sqwoo PetForums Newbie

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    She's had a few more gravy portions during the night (gourmet duck flavour only lol) and almost managed all of the gravy from a sachet this morning. She's only had one or two licks since 7am (she's over the gourmet duck already) but I'm hoping she has a bit more later.

    The vet said that he was happy if she was eating anything. He said she should be ok, even if eating only a few little licks a day until her medication really kicks in. I'm not convinced she would be fine on so little but feel reassured that the meds will have chance to work. I'll keep trying her with food everytime she is awake and hopefully she'll have a bit more.

    She seems a bit better in herself. She has spent all morning shoving her face into her grooming brush and subsequently sleeping on it! She has even made it out of her little triangle (small area in the living room that she hasn't moved from for days) and into the kitchen so I think those are good signs. She still relies on waiter service of me holding the food bowl to her mouth so I may have found a new vocation in life as Cat Feeder!

    @Ottery I was really pleased as they didn't even charge us for the consultation! Glad I didn't take her as the waiting room was full too!
     
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  18. Soozi

    Soozi PetForums VIP

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    I wonder if it’s worth blending the food so she gets a little more in the way of meat? You could add some water to it or chicken broth? Glad she’s showing a little improvement. Fingers crossed hun. xxx
     
  19. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

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  20. Soozi

    Soozi PetForums VIP

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    Gourmet gold Mousse or soufle were the only wet foods my last girl would eat! They are smooth especially with water added. So a good option.
     
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