It happens to all of us animal lovers, those disappointing moments when we start to see changes in our beloved cats–signs that they have climbed up and over that proverbial hill. Maybe our furry companions can’t jump as high as they used to or walk quite as far. Maybe their eyes are getting cloudy with cataracts, they don’t chase after their toys with the same amount of gusto as they once did. They take more naps, put on weight, walk into a corner and forget where they’re at.

Unfortunately, our cats will get old long before we do, but often times owners are overlooking a common glandular problem, chalking their pet’s weight loss or forgetfulness to simple old age. Many sources claim that a cat’s average lifespan is 13-17 years, while others insist that with a healthy lifestyle most cats can prosper even closer to 20 years. The aforementioned glandular disorder, hyperthyroidism, most typically affects cats between the ages of 12-14 years; it’s no wonder it is so easily mistaken for aging! The symptoms are, after all, parallel to those of getting older. The thyroid glands, located on the underside of your cat’s neck, are responsible for producing the thyroid hormones, which regulate healthy organ function (among many other things). When they become enlarged, they overproduce the hormones and disorganize all of kitty’s internal systems.

Common Symptoms of Cats with Hyperthyroidism:

  • irritability
  • poor skin condition and oily coat
  • lack of self-grooming
  • weightloss
  • increase in appetite and/or thirst
  • increase in urination
  • increase in stool or diarrhea
  • restlessness
  • confusion
  • depression
  • vomiting
  • rapid heart rate
  • occasionally weakness and/or difficulty breathing

If you think your older cat may be exhibiting some of these symptoms, you may want to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Usually, a diagnosis can be given with a simple blood test, though if the tests are inconclusive your vet may run other tests, panels, and urinalysis to rule out other diseases and disorders. Upon finding that your cat does have hyperthyroidism, treatments can vary, depending on the severity, from a daily medication to surgery to radioactive iodine therapy. Whether it’s for a few more months, or a few more years, we want to keep our favorite little lap warmers comfortable and content. Dog Day Afternoon wishes happy health and blessings to all those wise old whiskers out there!