Dear Christopher Cat
Boots, our 14-year-old cat, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She’s so old that we wonder whether we really need to treat the disease. What do you think?
Hyperthyroidism, caused by an overactive thyroid gland, is a disease of older cats. Average age at diagnosis is 13 years.
It’s important to treat it, because treated cats feel better and live longer.
The three most common treatments are medication, radioactive iodine therapy and surgery.
Tapazole, a medication known generically as methimazole, suppresses excess production of thyroid hormone by the overactive gland.
It may be given orally, or it can be formulated into a gel easily applied to the inside surface of the cat’s ear flaps.
Most newly diagnosed cats start on Tapazole. Some then receive radioactive iodine to destroy all abnormal thyroid tissue; others have surgery to remove the affected thyroid glands.
In a study comparing treatment options, veterinarians found that elderly, otherwise healthy hyperthyroid cats who received Tapazole followed by radioactive iodine lived an additional 5.3 years.
Even cats treated with Tapazole alone lived two years after diagnosis.
Without any treatment, Boots likely will develop vomiting and diarrhea, and despite a healthy appetite, she’ll lose a great deal of weight before she dies.So please give her the benefit of treatment. She’ll feel better and live longer.