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C2004-28

Dear Christopher Cat

Two of our cats developed hyperthyroidism when they got older. Is there something we can do to prevent our younger cats from getting it too?

Christopher Responds

Perhaps.

A study published this year in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association suggested an association between canned cat food and hyperthyroidism.

Researchers studied thousands of cats over a 20-year period and found that cats fed canned food were more likely to develop hyperthyroidism as they aged than cats given dry food.

Hyperthyroidism, the excessive production of thyroid hormone by one or both of the thyroid glands in our necks, increases metabolism to harmful levels.

Until this study was published, veterinarians recognized only that the disease was associated with increasing age. Now that they know it may be related to canned food, they might start recommending that most of us cats eat only dry food.

For years, Mom has fed us mostly dry food because it keeps our teeth cleaner than canned food, which sticks to the molars and hastens the buildup of plaque and tartar.
On the other hand, canned food is preferred for cats with diseases that respond to increased water intake, such as some urinary conditions, because it is about 80 percent water.

I love the rich flavor of the canned food Mom feeds us on special occasions, so I’m hoping that future studies refute this one.

But until then, I doubt that I’ll be dining on canned food.

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