Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats.  It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart and kidney disease.

Over the past three decades, veterinarian’s understanding of this complex disease has evolved considerably. In the past, hyperthyroid cats were referred to specialists, but now, vets usually manage these patients at general practices. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) just released new guidelines for the management of feline hyperthyroidism.

Specifically the guidelines

  • offer simple recommendations for testing that will help avoid misdiagnosis
  • separate a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism into six categories with associated management strategies
  • emphasize the importance of treating hyperthyroidism regardless of other concurrent diseases
  • outline treatment options
  • explain how to monitor cats
  • dispel some of the myths surrounding certain aspects of hyperthyrodism

“Our hope is that by using these guidelines, veterinary professionals will be able to diagnosis feline hyperthyrodisim long before the cat becomes the classic scrawny, unkempt patient with a mass on its neck,” said Cynthia Ward, VMD, PhD, DACVIM, and AAFP Advisory Panel Co-Chair.

You can view the complete guidelines on the AAFP website.

Photo courtesy of AAFP, used with permission

7 Comments on AAFP Releases New Guidelines for Management of Feline Hyperthyroidism

  1. Topaz had I-131 treatment after being diagnosed as hyperthyroid in 2014 when she was 14 years old. It was expensive and she did not do well being separated from me, but her T4 levels have been normal since the treatment.

  2. Great timing! My 7-year-old boy’s T4 went from 1.9 to 4.2 in 14 months. He will be retested in June, but I am planning to take him on a 182-mile journey (one way) to the Feline Thyroid Clinic in Springfield, OR, when the time comes.

  3. Thanks for sharing these. I looked at the new guidelines,and it amazes me that the statistics are still diagnosis in 1.5-11% of cats worldwide. I have an 80% rate at in my household, so I’m glad to hear that this is being reinforced to veterinarians. I strongly suspect it’s underdiagnosed. (Either that or there’s something especially bad about my house… maybe both!)

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