New! A diet for the management of feline hyperthyroidism
The most common endocrine disease in older cats is hyperthyroidism.
A benign enlargement of the thyroid gland in the cat's neck produces an excess of thyroid hormone, which leads to the classic signs of the disease - these include extreme hunger, weight loss, increased thirst, vomiting, diarrheoa, coat and skin changes, and sometimes restlessness and aggression. The disease will cause major damage to the heart, kidneys and eyes. The diagnosis is made by measuring the level of T4 hormone in the blood, which is produced in excessive amounts in affected cats. We also check for kidney and liver disease in these older pets.
Until recently most cats have been treated with Neomercazole (medication in a tablet form). This works very well but is a lifelong treatment and needs to be given 2-3 times daily - not easy in some patients! We can also arrange a referral for radioactive iodine treatment - this is a cure for most cats, but is the most costly option. Surgery to remove the thyroid gland is done very rarely.
A new approach to treatment has recently become available, with Hills Prescription Diet Feline y/dTM now on the market. This unique food has been manufactured to very carefully limit the levels of dietary iodine. Iodine is essential to the production of thyroid hormones - so by severely restricting iodine, the excess production is stopped. The diet has been made with older cats in mind with restricted sodium and phosphorus levels to support kidney health, essential fatty acids for shiny coats, and taurine and L-carnitine for heart health.
This method of controlling hyperthyroidism still needs regular blood tests to monitor T4 levels and kidney function, to ensure that we are optimizing the cat's health. It also must be noted that this approach only works if y/d is the ONLY food that the cat eats. We will discuss with all newly diagnosed hyperthyroid cat owners whether this diet could work for their lifestyle. Cats on other treatments that are proving hard to manage might also benefit from a change in the approach to treatment.
We would love to discuss this exciting new treatment with all our existing hyperthyroid cat owners - and of course if the list of symptoms described above sounds like your kitty we are always keen to screen for this very common problem, to help your cat live a long and healthy life!