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Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism

The words hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism look very similar, which can be confusing for many cat owners concerned about the health of their feline friend. But it's important to note that these conditions are very different. Our Orange County vets explain.

The Job of Your Cat's Thyroid

The thyroid is a gland in your cat's neck that produces a number of hormones which help to regulate many processes in your cat's body, including metabolic rate.

Hypothyroidism in Cats vs Hyperthyroidism

If your cat is diagnosed with hypothyroidism it means that their thyroid is underactive, and producing fewer thyroid hormones than are required for a healthy metabolism. 

If, on the other hand, your cat produces too much thyroid hormone, then your kitty is suffering from hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism (the latter condition) is a common condition seen in senior cats, whereas hypothyroidism is very rare.

Possible Causes of Hypothyroidism in Cats

Although sometimes caused by cancer, iodine deficiency or congenital disease (thyroid gland abnormalities), hypothyroidism is a rare condition most often seen in cats who have undergone surgery or iodine therapy as treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) .

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Cats

The reduced levels of thyroid hormones seen in cats with hypothyroidism result in a slowing of the cat's metabolism which can result in the following symptoms: 

  • Cold intolerance
  • Weight gain
  • Hair matting
  • Constipation
  • Neurological changes
  • Unkept appearance
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Mental dullness
  • Hair loss / Excessive shedding
  • Inactivity
  • Low body temperature

Contact your vet right away if you notice that your cat is displaying any of the symptoms listed above. While these symptoms can indicate hypothyroidism in cats, they can also be related to a number of other serious conditions which require veterinary attention.

Treatment for Cats with Hypothyroidism

Often no treatment is necessary for cat's with hypothyroidism. However, if your kitty's symptoms are severe your vet may prescribe synthetic hormone supplements, and schedule followup examinations (including blood tests) to monitor your cat's overall health and hormone levels. A modified diet containing reduced fat may also be recommended for your cat while they are recovering.

Most cats recover well from hypothyroidism, with a notable improvement in their health seen in just a short amount of time.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is displaying symptoms or behaviors that cause you concern contact our Orange County emergency and specialist vets to book an appointment for your feline friend.

New Patients Welcome

Veterinary Medical And Surgical Group–OC (VMSG-OC) accepts new clients to our specialty services and 24/7 emergency services.

Contact Us

Contact (949) 201-4100