The Secret To Happy Cats

Cat

Stress and anxiety related cat behavioural problems and illnesses are occurring more frequently than ever before; this is mainly due to the ever increasing cat population that sees our cats living in multi cat households or being forced to share territories and live in close proximity with strange cats. Behavioural problems and illnesses are not only stressful to the cats, they can be very upsetting for owners and are one of the leading causes for cats being put up for adoption or euthanased.

Stress and anxiety may lead to unwanted behaviours such as urination and spraying in the home or stress-related illnesses such as idiopathic cystitis and over-grooming; some cats may excessively groom, sleep or eat as a means of self-soothing.

Problems usually occur when a cat does not feel secure and relaxed in his or her own home and may be due to many things including

  • Problems with other cats – both within the household or from neighbouring areas
  • Changes to their usual routine
  • Changes to the normal household routine , for example the owner changing working hours, a new baby or new pet, new neighbours and/or their pets, visitors, arguments in the home, decor changes, building work etc. (The list could go on and on!)
  • House move – not only are they in an unfamiliar home, they also have to figure out their territory allowance with the other neighbourhood cats.
  • Illnesses such as urinary problems, skin problems, stomach upsets and over-grooming are all commonly linked to stress and may exacerbate stress, or sometimes stress can exacerbate the illness.
  • Lack of mental stimulation (boredom),
  • Lack of exercise

Multicat Households

Multi-cat households are homes where two or more cats live together. For most cats everything is fine and they get on well, but occasionally something will happen that upsets the balance of the social groups within the home and leads to problems.

It is vitally important as an owner, to know whether or not your cats are bonded and in the same social group. Cat behaviour can be very subtle and just because your cats are not actively fighting or hissing at each other, it does not necessarily mean that they are the best of friends. Sometimes cats living in the same household do not perceive each other to be in the same social group, but they may tolerate the presence of others in order to access a resource such as food or comfy resting areas.

Social groups can be complicated for example in a 3 cat household you may find that you have 1, 2 or no social groups at all!

Bonded cats within the same social group will

  • Sleep curled/piled up together (or in very close proximity)
  • Head bump and body rub each other
  • Make greeting noises at each other
  • Groom each other
  • Play together

Non-bonded cats may

  • Stare at each other from across a room
  • Block passage to other areas e.g. by sitting in the middle of a doorway, sit at the bottom/top of the stairs and may also hiss or swipe at others going past
  • Chase another, sometimes ending with a swipe or bite (which a surprising high number of owners think is playing)
  • May have their ears back and tails tucked under (or swishing) when another of the household cats is nearby
  • May sleep in the same vicinity, but not curled up/touching one another

The body language our cats display can be very subtle and cat’s that don’t like each other will not always demonstrate this easily for owners to see. This Feliway Friends Or Foes link demonstrates the signs very well.

Bonded cats will demonstrate mutual grooming, body rubbing and sleep in very close proximity

Bonded cats will demonstrate mutual grooming, body rubbing and sleep in very close proximity

How you can help your cat(s) feel more secure 

If you can meet the environmental needs of your cats, you can avoid some of the potential causes of stress and anxiety in their lives that may lead to behavioural problems and impact on their physical and mental health. It is always impressive to see how much more relaxed and less anxious cats can become once these needs have been taken into consideration, even little changes can help a great deal.

1. Create Safe Havens 

We often overlook the need for cats to have safe havens or sanctuaries within the home. Your cat can use these places to hide away if frightened by something in the environment or just to relax out of reach of people and other animals in the home. In multi-cat households the availability of hiding places in all the different areas within the home is very important, because while they may often choose to be in there together, your cats may also need their own individual space at some point.

Your cats may already have their favourite go-to places, so you can make these more cosy and add something for them to hide behind, such as a piece of card or a cloth cover. Examples of good safe places include

  • The top of a wardrobe or cupboard
  • A high shelf/perch (putting a small lip on the shelf will make your cat feel more hidden)
  • Space under a bed or in a cupboard
  • A box with a bed in it behind the sofa or chair (you can also use a cat carrier).
  • Secure a box to the top of a cat tower
  • Cat Tunnel or similar
  • A comfy bed/box in the shed or garage

When your cat is in the safe haven, he or she should be left completely undisturbed by everyone; no talking no touching, no enticing. When your cat is out and about you can talk to, stroke and interact with him or her.

Cats can really benefit from having a total sanctuary like this where they can escape from everything (we know many people do too) and it can be especially helpful for nervous or reactive cats. The thing to remember is that even after hundreds of years of domestication, cats are ultimately solitary animals and sometimes desperately need their own space – even from their loving owners.

Sanctuaries

2. Position Resources Carefully

The vital resources your cat needs include

  • Water
  • Food
  • Litter trays
  • Beds / Resting Areas
  • Scratching posts
  • Play Areas and Toys

Make sure that these resources are spread out and that food, water and litter trays are not near each other or near windows, doorways and cat flaps, particularly where another cat may be able to see or sneak up on your cat while he or she is using them. If there is no option but to put resources in these places, try to create a bit of camouflage for your cat in those areas using a curtain or frosted window coverings for example.

Cats prefer their water source and food sources to be separate from each other, so bear this is mind while you are planning where to put things.

In a multi-cat household make sure you provide resources for each social group as far away as possible from the other to reduce the risk of conflict and relationship breakdown. If you don’t have much space, think about using shelves, work surfaces or other slightly higher places to create separate feeding stations for your cat.

Use surfaces on different levels to create separate feeding stations in Multicat households

3. Litter Trays

Litter trays can be invaluable resources for anxious and stressed cats as having to go outside to eliminate can add to their problem.

  • For multi cat households it is recommended that you have one tray per cat plus one extra. This is not always possible in smaller spaces, so look at the social groups within the home and try to have at least one per group.
  • Make sure trays are placed in quiet, secluded areas in your home and not in busy places like the kitchen or hallway; if you can’t put the tray in a secluded area, put it behind some sort of screen i.e. a piece of cardboard or a curtain (nobody wants to go to the toilet with an audience!)
  • Trays should be as big as possible, preferably 1.5 times the length of your cat from nose to base of tail. For older, ill, or injured cats that may have trouble squatting, a tray with higher sides, but a lower entrance may be necessary and in these cases converted plastic storage boxes or large seed trays may be helpful.
  • The tray should contain a depth of at least 3cm of cat litter in them. If your cat is having any urinary tract-related problems, then he or she may require deeper litter.
  • Remember that cat litter is marketed at owners rather than cats and your cats may not appreciate strong smelling de-odorizing cat litter!
  • Don’t use tray liners, they can get caught up in your cat’s claws while they are raking the litter.
  • Trays should be scooped out at least once daily (more frequently for cats with urinary problems) and topped up with litter as necessary. Covered trays may also need to be scooped more frequently as they will hold odours inside, which can be quite unpleasant for cats.
  • Litter trays should be thoroughly cleaned every 1-2 weeks using soap and hot water (avoid using strong smelling soaps, strong chemicals or ammonia based products).

Low sided litter trays can be great for older cats.

4. Make Time For Play And Hunting Games

Play and mental stimulation is sometimes overlooked once our cats reach adulthood and boredom can intensify usually normal behaviours that could potentially lead to problems such as obesity, destructiveness and over grooming.

  • Remember that cats prefer short but frequent bursts of activity so keep your play sessions to around 2-5 minutes.
  • Make sure that your cat gets the opportunity to win games by catching the ‘prey’ otherwise you will end up with a very frustrated kitty!
  • Individual play can be with small toys and balls. While interaction with the owner can involve the use of fishing rod type and moveable toys.
  • Using cat food/treat dispenser systems, games or making your own can be a great way of providing mental stimulation – Several toilet roll inners stuck together on a board with dry food placed into the tubes works well in both an upright or flat position.
  • Encourage food foraging by placing food parcels around the house in packages, boxes or on ‘cat shelves’.
  • Cardboard boxes can provide lots of entertainment for cats; try cutting some different sized holes in them, body sized and paw sized for extra entertainment. Scrunched up newspaper in the bottom of a box with a few pieces of dried food or treats can also be fun.
  • High shelves and cat towers are fun to play with and can also give cats a sense of security when they are up high.
  • Scratching posts/places are really important for cats (especially indoor cats and those that don’t go far when outside), they provide a place to mark territory and sharpen claws and give cats an opportunity for a proper stretch of their limbs, muscles and spine. Cats often like a variety of scratching places, so try to include a vertical and horizontal surface. Remember to ensure that upright scratching posts are secure and won’t topple as the cat is using it and that they are tall/long enough to allow the cat to stretch out fully.
  • In multi cat homes, create a play area for your cats that contains things to play in and around, for example fabric or cardboard tubes, boxes, cat towers, bags etc. as this will often prevent quarrels.
  • Cats of different social groups may need an area to be able to play individually and with the owner.
  • Rotate toys regularly to keep interest levels high

When using food and treats with toys, it is important to remember to reduce your cat’s daily food allowance for his or her main meal appropriately to avoid obesity.

cats at play

5. Secure Your Cat Flap

It is really important to ensure that other cats in the neighbourhood are not coming into your home and causing further upset and stress to your cats. Investing in a microchip-reading cat flap is a really sensible idea to prevent this.

cat flap

How relaxed would you be if a stranger kept wandering into your home?

6. Use Feline Pheromones

The use of pheromone diffusers can really help stressed cats.  At Castle Vets we recommend FELIWAY® for cats that are being bothered by Strange cats and are generally unsettled in the home and FELIWAY® FRIENDS for multi cat homes, as it is proven to help reduce tension and conflicts between cats in multi-cat households. Both of these products can be used together, however, it is no good just plugging them in and assuming they will do the job! Unless you make some or all of the recommended environmental changes mentioned above, your cat will very likely still be anxious and stressed.

If you think that your cat is having problems with stress and/or anxiety or you would like any further information please contact Castle Vets for advice and/or to make an appointment to see Clare Espley RVN.

Grass Seeds and Plant Awns

Grass Seeds and Plant Awns

At this time of year at Castle Vets we start to see a lot of patients with grass seeds and plant awns embedded in various parts of the body. This article will hopefully help raise awareness on this extremely painful problem.

During the warmer summer months grasses and plants start to dry out and their barbed seeds begin to scatter. These can cause major problems for our dogs (and occasionally other pets such as cats), who often get these seeds caught in their paws, nostrils, ears, eyes and skin.

Grass seeds and plant awns tend to have ‘one-way’ barbs that are designed to help the seed work its way into the soil and unfortunately for our pets, this also makes them quite efficient at working their way through the fur and then into the skin of the animal. If they are not found and removed quickly, these seeds and awns have been known to work their way through the skin and end up causing serious problems as they migrate further into the body. Continue reading

Feline Hypertension (high blood pressure)

cat sleeping

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a fairly commonly seen, but potentially severe problem for older cats. Over the past few years the importance of monitoring blood pressure in older cats has been recognised by veterinary surgeons and monitoring equipment is now readily available in most veterinary practices.

What is Blood Pressure and Hypertension?

The blood pressure is the force that is exerted by the blood against the walls of blood vessels. A certain amount of pressure is needed to enable the heart to effectively pump blood around the body in order to deliver oxygen and energy to the various organs, muscles and tissues. When an animal (or person) becomes hypertensive, the blood is pumped with greater force than normal which puts extra strain on the vessels, arteries and heart.

What Causes Hypertension?

Hypertension in cats may be caused by (or be a side effect of) another disease, illness or problem such as

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

However, many older cats can develop hypertension without having other illnesses or disease, or even showing any other clinical signs and if it is not detected early on and is left untreated it can cause serious and sometimes sudden consequences. Including the following illnesses and symptoms

  • Kidney problems
  • Heart problems
  • Neurological (Brain) problems such as seizures or disorientation
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Dilated pupils (large pupils that do not get smaller in the light)
  • Blood spots/bleeding in the eyes
  • Blindness
  • Respiratory problems

If your cat is showing any of the above signs, please make an appointment for your cat to be examined by veterinary surgeon.

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is measured in cats using the same method that is used for humans. In humans, two values are taken into account, the higher one being the blood pressure in the arteries that is recorded when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and the lower value, when the heart rests between beats (diastolic pressure). These two values are recorded one above the other, separated by a slash mark; Normal human blood pressure is around 120/70-80 mmHg (which stands for millimetres of mercury). With cats, we tend just focus on the systolic blood pressure reading which is typically higher than humans, at around 120 to 170 mmHg.

Sphygmomanometer Dial

Sphygmomanometer

How Is Hypertension Diagnosed?

Your vet will make a diagnosis by using a Sphygmomanometer (as mentioned below), but also by taking into account any other clinical symptoms that your cat may have.
Because hypertension is often associated with other conditions such as kidney disease and hyperthyroidism , blood pressure may be tested for if these illnesses are present or, if hypertension is the initial problem, blood tests may be performed to check for these other illnesses.

Sometimes the vet may need to take 2 or 3 readings over 2 to 3 weeks to confirm a diagnosis of hypertension. Factors such as the cat being anxious, distressed or even excited can give ‘false high’ pressure readings which is why your vet may recommend several measurements over the course of a few weeks.

Blood pressure monitoring

Monitoring the blood pressure in cats is a non-invasive and relatively straightforward procedure that can be carried out by a vet or veterinary nurse at the practice (as long as the cat is cooperative and happy to sit still for a while!). The procedure is very similar to human blood pressure testing and is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer.

  1. A small cuff attached to the Sphygmomanometer is wrapped around the cat’s leg (or occasionally the tail).
  2. A Doppler probe is used to find the pulse in the foot. The probe is a handheld diagnostic device that emits ultrasonic waves into the body; it picks up the sound of the blood flow (pulse) and enables the vet or veterinary nurse to hear it.
  3. The cuff is gently inflated with a pump until
    the pulse can no longer be detected, then a valve is opened to slowly deflate the cuff.
  4. The reading on the sphygmomanometer is recorded when the pulse can be heard again as the cuff is deflating.
  5. The measurements are taken 3-6 times and the vet will use an average of the readings as the blood pressure measurement.

Treating Hypertension

Medication is available to treat hypertension and fortunately, with appropriate monitoring and treatment, feline hypertension is usually manageable. Early diagnosis means that treatment can be started as soon as possible, which reduces the risk of damage to the body from persistent high blood pressure. Occasionally, if the underlying disease or illness is treated, the hypertension may resolve on its own, but most cats will need to be on medication for life after diagnosis. Many cats may also be on medication for other conditions at the same time.

How often should blood pressure be monitored?

We usually recommend that any cat over the age of 7 years old is tested annually to make sure they do not have hypertension. In healthy cats this will be a record of what is normal for them and the offers the possibility of detecting hypertension early on before other signs are present.
If the vet has diagnosed hypertension, they may initially recommend weekly or monthly monitoring until it is under control; the monitoring frequency may then be reduced to a test every 3 months or so.

BP1

We aim to keep cats as calm as possible during the monitoring procedure to avoid the effect of blood pressure being raised due to anxiety. Some cats are better away from their owners and some cats prefer to stay with their owners.

Blood Pressure Monitoring at Castle Vets

Cats over 7 years old who are members of the Castle Vets Pet Health Club are eligible for a free annual blood pressure test, which can be booked with a veterinary nurse as an outpatient procedure.
If you are not a member of our pet health club, there will be a charge for blood pressure monitoring, but it can be booked the same way.

If your cat is already showing any of the clinical symptoms mentioned above, you should book an appointment for him or her to be examined by the veterinary surgeon.

For further information or advice about hypertension or any other pet related issues, please contact your veterinary practice for advice

 

 

 

Making Travelling & Vet Visits Less Stressful For Cats

b

Most cats find travelling outside their home to be a very stressful experience.
Cats aren’t stupid, they know that the cat carrier means a trip to the vet where they will very likely be poked and prodded, often when they are already feeling poorly or sore. Or it could be a trip to the cattery while you are away on holiday, either way your cat knows that the cat carrier is not a good thing. I’m sure that more than a few of you have tried getting your cat through that small opening in the cat carrier and ended up completely stressed, with a few battle wounds and a missing cat!

We’ve all been here!

How to make travelling less stressful

1. If possible leave the cat carrier in your home (rather than the shed or garage) with a nice cosy bed in it. Rewarding your cat with a tasty treat when he or she chooses to go near or into the carrier , should encourage  frequent use and ensure your cat doesn’t always associate it with nasty trips. It also means that your cat learns to feel safe in there.

2. Make sure the carrier is sturdy and escape Two comfortable and happy kittiesproof once the door is closed. The last thing you want is a stressed cat leaping about in the car on the way to the veterinary surgery or cattery, or worse escaping while you are in a car park miles away from home.

3. Choose your carrier carefully. It is much easier to pick up a cat and pop him into the open top of a basket/carrier, rather than trying to force him through a small doorway in the front – if his feet are on the floor it is much easier to escape! If you can’t get a top opening carrier, my tip is to position the carrier so that the door is facing upwards and gently put the cat in.

4. It is always a good idea to have some sort of absorbent liner in the carrier in case your cat has an accident. Absorbent pet bedding such as Vet-Bed can be used or you could get some incontinence pads which are quite cheap to buy and easily cut to size.

5. Using Feliway (www.feliway.co.uk) spray in the carrier 15 minutes before you place you cat into it may help to keep your cat calmer on the journey and at the vets. Feliway helps cats naturally cope with stressful situations and is available from your veterinary practice or in some of the bigger pet stores.

6. If you are going to be travelling a long distance with your cat, ensure that he or she has access to fresh water. For very long journeys a larger travelling crate with room for a litter tray and somewhere to hide may make for a happier kitty. You may also want to consider chatting to your vet about medication to help your cat feel calmer on the journey; as well as using Feliway, products such as Zylkene or Scullcap & Valerian may also be helpful.

putting cat into upended carrier

How to place your cat into a front opening carrier
Turn the basket onto its end so the door is facing upwards. Have someone steady the carrier to prevent it from tipping over. Gently lower the cat into the carrier and close the door.

To avoid stress at the veterinary surgery

Put your cat in a carrier when you visit your vet because your cat will feel much more secure in there than if he or she were loose in your arms. There are cat harnesses available, but if your veterinary practice isn’t lucky enough to have a separate cat waiting area, your cat will be terrified and have nowhere to hide if a dog comes into the waiting room.

Turn your cat carrier around so that it’s door is facing a wall , chairback or yourself (obviously this doesn’t apply to top-opening carriers!). Some cats are also much happier with a towel or small blanket over the top of their carrier to give them even more privacy, especially if they are in a wire basket.

Try not to sit close to any dogs who might be visiting the vets. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen dogs being allowed to sniff the carrier containing a terrified kitty who cannot escape, and the dog owner saying “it’s ok, he’s good with cats” and the cat owner replying “Oh yes, it’s fine she lives with a dog” Poor cat!  The same applies to other cats, it is best to face them away from each other when possible.

At Castle Vets we are fortunate enough to have completely separate cat facilities so that our feline patients never have to be worried about dogs nosing their baskets and trying to get in. Our feline patients are much calmer and easy to handle because dogs never enter the waiting room, consulting rooms, kennels or operating theatre.

Feliway is often helpful as it will help keep your cat calm.

I hope you find this article informative, please let us know what you think in the comments.

If you have any questions please contact your veterinary practice

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The importance of microchipping your pet

dog cat rabbit missing

Pets go missing from home for a whole variety of reasons and stray animals are usually picked up by members of the public, then passed on to the local dog wardens, animal charities or taken to the veterinary surgery if they are injured. If they cannot be identified by means of a microchip or id tag, sadly they may never be reunited with their owners and often end up in rescue centers to be re-homed, or even put to sleep if there is no room for them or they are ill.

Every year in the UK, animal welfare organisations estimate that over 180,000 pets go missing and that only half of these pets are ever reunited with their owners because there is no way of knowing who they belong to. According to the Dogs Trust Stray Dog Survey 2015, dog wardens reported that only 20% of the dogs taken by local authorities last year were microchipped (Sadly there is no such data kept on cats). Animal Search UK reports that they have between 20 and 100 missing and found pets registered with them every day and in the last 3 months alone, we at Castle Vets have had reports of 34 missing pets!

Pets go missing from home for a whole variety of reasons but some of the most common ones are

  • Hormone related – Male animals wander off after scenting a female in season, or females in season wander off to find a mate.
  • Fear – Animals may run off after hearing a particularly loud and scary noise, such as fireworks or thunder. Or a stranger in the home may scare them away.
  • Moving house – Animals may become lost after a house move when they are in unfamiliar territory.
  • Natural inquisitiveness – You pet may start following a scent or another animal for a while and get lost.
  • Illness – Poorly animals may become disorientated and get lost easily, others may have had an accident and be unable to get back home before someone picks them up and takes them to the local vet.
  • Theft – unfortunately people stealing pets is still on the increase especially cute younger animals and in pedigree or working breeds that can be sold on.

Continue reading

Cystitis and Urinary Problems in Cats

Cystitis

Cystitis (which literally means inflammation of the bladder), Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) and Idiopathic Cystitis are terms that are used by veterinary surgeons to describe the problems associated with the bladder or difficulty urinating. We see urinary problems in many of our feline patients, both males and females, of all ages.

Urinary crystals or stones

These grow in the bladder and can obstruct the urine flow. This is very painful condition and possibly life threatening for the cat as any blockage of the urinary tract by the stones or crystals can lead to a dangerous buildup of toxins within the body, not to mention the severe pain from a full bladder that cannot be emptied.

Urethral plugs

This is usually seen in male cats, when there is a buildup of proteins, cells, crystals and debris in the urine that combines together to form a ‘plug’ that cannot be passed.

Muscle spasm of the urethra

This can occur with severe inflammation or irritation

Bacterial infection

This problem is not often seen in cats but is usually the cause of cystitis in dogs and humans.

Idiopathic cystitis

This is the term for Cystitis that is not linked to bacterial infection or crystals.

Cancer

In older cats with urinary problems, the possibility of a tumour affecting the urinary tract needs to be investigated, although it is not very common.

What Causes Urinary Problems?

The cause of these problems are not always apparent but may be related to  Continue reading

Feline Hyperthyroidism

Feline Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common diseases seen in senior cats at Castle Vets. It can occur in any breed or sex of cat, but usually occurs in cats over the age of 10 years old.

Hyperthyroidism in most cats is caused by a benign (non-cancerous) change in one or both of the cat’s thyroid glands, in rare cases it can also be caused by a malignant (cancerous) growth or change in the thyroid gland. We do not know what causes these changes to occur, but both make the thyroid gland produce excessive amounts of the thyroid hormone Thyroxine.

1 shows normal thyroid gland.  2 & 3 show the parathyroid glands.  4 shows the abnormal thyroid gland

Thyroid hormones regulate many processes within the body including metabolism, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and bowel function. When too much thyroxine is produced the clinical signs can be quite severe, making the cat seriously ill. It speeds everything in the body up , causing the body’s energy to be used up very quickly.

Clinical Signs Of Hyperthyroidism

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism will vary from cat to cat. Some cats may have one or two of these symptoms while others may show several or all of the clinical signs.

  • Weight losshyperthyroid
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased activity – restlessness and irritability (occasionally aggression)
  • Poor coat condition
  • Goitre – Being able to see or feel the thyroid glands in the cat’s neck
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Heat intolerance
  • Panting
  • Occasionally a cat may have the opposite of the expected symptoms – loss of appetite, depression, weakness and lethargy.

If you notice that you cat is showing any of the above clinical signs then please contact your vet for an appointment as soon as possible. The quicker a health problem is diagnosed, the quicker your cat can get the treatment he or she needs to get back to their usual happy self.

Other Complications Of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can have serious consequences on the cat’s heart. It causes an increased heart rate and also changes to the walls of the heart, which can lead to heart failure if left untreated.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is sometimes diagnosed at the same time as hyperthyroidism. If left untreated it can cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, heart and brain.

Kidney disease, while not caused by hyperthyroidism, is often seen at the same time because they are both common diseases in older cats.

How The Vet Diagnoses Hyperthyroidism

Your vet may use one or more of the following to diagnose your cat

  • Clinical signs and history
  • Thorough examination
  • Blood tests to check the levels of thyroxine in the blood stream and to see how well the other organs in the body are functioning.
  • Other clinical tests may be performed to help rule out or identify concurrent illnesses such as kidney disease or heart disease, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), a blood pressure test or an X-ray.

Treatment For Feline Hyperthyroidism

The good news is that there is treatment available for cats with hyperthyroidism and if the treatment is successful the cat will quickly return to his or her normal self.

Medication/Tablets – Tablets that help to prevent the production of the thyroid hormones are usually given once or twice a day. They are simple to give and mean that the disease can be controlled without the need for an anaesthetic and surgery; however, they may suit all cats because a few may suffer side effects from the tablets such as inappetence, vomiting and lethargy. (Not to mention the cats who are very difficult to medicate!)

A blood test every 2-3 months is necessary to monitor the cat’s progress and ensure that the medication is effective and at the right dose.

tableting a cat

Tablets will not suit every cat

Prescription Diet Food – This is an option that has recently become available in the UK. The special diet, Hills y/d, has very strictly controlled levels of iodine in it. Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to make the thyroid hormones so the diet ensures that there is only enough iodine content to maintain normal thyroid hormone production. This works really well for some cats and is a great alternative if the cat cannot have medication or surgery, however, the cat must be fed on this diet exclusively with no other added foods, so it is unlikely to be beneficial in multi-cat households.
A blood test every 2-3 months is necessary to monitor the cat’s progress and ensure that the food is keeping the disease controlled.

YDFood

Surgery – An operation to remove the over-active thyroid gland (or both glands) is a frequently performed in many veterinary practices and the removal of the abnormal thyroid gland should completely cure the disease so there would be no need for further medication. There is always a slight risk with any anaesthetic and surgical procedure and this may be increased for older or unwell animals. The operation needs to be carried out by a skilled veterinary surgeon because if the parathyroid gland (which is very close to the thyroid gland) is damaged, it can upset the calcium levels in the body leading to further complications.
Most cat’s recover quite quickly from thyroidectomy surgery and are home within a few days, but they will need to be closely monitored through examination and blood tests for the following few weeks.

_MG_0998

Radioactive Iodine Therapy – An injection of radioactive iodine is given to the cat, which destroys the abnormal thyroid tissues but does not affect the normal thyroid tissue. No anaesthetic is required and the majority of cats only need one injection in order to cure the disease.
This treatment is, unfortunately, only available at a few veterinary specialist hospitals so there is usually a waiting list and the cost of the treatment can be quite high. Your cat will also have to stay at the practice with minimal handling, for around 4 to 6 weeks (until the radiation levels have dropped).

photo-radioactive-iodine-therapy

Contact Us

If you would like more information about Feline Hyperthyroidism or you are worried that your cat may be showing some of the associated clinical symptoms, you can contact us on 0118 9574488 or via the Castle Vets Website 

Useful Links

International Cat Care Hyperthyroidism 

MSD Hyperthyroidism Website