Hyperthyroidism is a common endocrine disease that affects cats aged 12 years or above. It is necessary to learn all about the condition that may prompt the onset of secondary diseases, for instance, heart problems or high blood pressure. As your cat gets older, it will become less active and won’t feel the urge to eat as often. Eventually, you may notice a consistent loss of weight and muscle mass and greasy fur. If you notice these changes in your cat’s appearance and weight, don’t write them off as signs of aging. That’s because these are the most commonly observed symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats. Cat food for hyperthyroidism can help reducing risks of the secondary issues, however, to cure hyperthyroidism medicine or even surgery might be required.
Best Cat Food For Hyperthyroidism
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Understanding Thyroid Problems in Cats:
Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that mostly affects old or middle-aged cats. It is often referred to as thyrotoxicosis. Feline hyperthyroidism is caused when Thyroxine or thyroid hormone (levels), which in clinical terms is called T3 and T4, are excessively produced. Imbalance in these thyroid hormones causes various issues and symptoms.
Thyroid hormone production increase is attributed to an enlarged thyroid gland present in the cat’s neck. There have been cases where the hyperthyroid disease occurs because of malignant tumors called thyroid adenocarcinoma. It is a non-cancerous tumor that causes an increase in the production of thyroxine.
The exact cause of the feline hyperthyroid disease is yet unknown. There are, however, several contributing factors such as excess or deficiency of certain compounds in feline diet and excessive exposure to thyroid-disrupting chemicals in the environment or food. What is confirmed, though, is that the disease affects over 10% of the geriatric cat population.
It is important to note that the thyroid hormone impacts almost all the organs in the cat’s body. That’s why it usually becomes the root cause of several secondary problems.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats
Cats with hyperthyroidism develop a variety of signs. The symptoms are subtle in the beginning, and as the disease reaches its advanced stages, the signs become more severe. To get definite answer, ask your vet to make blood tests.
Some of the common clinical signs/symptoms of hyperthyroidism include
- weight loss,
- excessive thirstiness and urination,
- increased appetite,
- muscle wasting,
- diarrhea, and
Moreover, the hyperthyroid disease can also affect the cat’s coat, making it appear greasy and matted.
Hyperthyroidism Cat Diet- What You Need to Know?
While there is no clear causative connection discovered between diet and hyperthyroidism, several studies have suggested some correlation between some dietary elements and the disease. Whats more important – diet can affect how symptoms manifest. Bad diet will exacerbate already bad situation, so make sure to feed your cat cat food that will work positively on its overal health condition. As always with sick cat – do consult your veterinarian.
Therefore, you must take care of your cat’s diet right from a young age. As the cat gets older, the cat’s vulnerability to thyroid disease will increase, especially if its diet includes certain elements that should be avoided.
High Protein Cat Food for Hyperthyroidism Helps Reduce Muscle Loss
Hyperthyroid cats need high protein and high-calorie diets. It helps in reducing the rate of muscle wasting and weight loss, which usually accompany the disease despite a good appetite.
If hypermetabolic state in cats persists, as is often case with hyperthyroidism, it induces progressive muscle wasting and loss of weight. Hence, dietary recommendations in hyperthyroid cats usually involve ingredients that can offset these challenges. Good cat food for weight gain can help, depending on the nutrition profile.
Low Carb Food For Cats With Hyperthyroidism to Reduce Possibility of Feline Diabetes
Thyroxine is the main hormone that the thyroid gland produces and it is important to regulate blood glucose levels. It is also a counter-regulatory and anti-insulin hormone, which is why its effect is the opposite of insulin. This means it promotes an increase in blood glucose circulation by encouraging glycogenolysis.
Glycogenolysis is the state when the glucose stored in the liver and muscle is released into the bloodstream.It also promotes gluconeogenesis, which is a condition where glucose is produced from fatty acids. It may impact other catabolic processes. Due to the counter-regulatory impact of thyroid hormone levels, hyperthyroid cats often develop insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.
That’s why hyperthyroid cats are at a higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus. Therefore, they should be fed a diet offering low carbohydrate content like the cat food for diabetic cats.. It should be less than 15%, based on a dry matter basis.
Wet Cat Food For Hyperthyroidism Helps Fight Risk of Kidney Disease
Another important aspect to consider is to feed the feline wet cat food rather than dry food. Wet content can be crucial in reducing some second round effects. That’s because cats with hyperthyroidism are at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD). Reportedly, CKD affects over 7% of cats above 10-years of age and 30% of cats aged above 15 years. A diet that is high in moisture content is immensely beneficial in promoting hydration, which the feline with CKD needs the most. This is why dry food might not be the best option.
Find the best cat food for kidney problems.
Can Iodine Restriction Help Treat Feline Hyperthyroidism?
A diet low in iodine (iodine restriction) will slow thyroid hormone synthesis as it will reduce the regular supply of iodine. However, it won’t fix the enlarged gland nor prevent an already prevailing adenoma into a carcinoma. But, iodine therapy is proven to be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of thyroid disease.
Since the iodine proportion in both homemade and commercial cat foods is extremely diverse, it is quite difficult to identify the ideal level of iodine cats would need. According to the National Research Council, the dietary iodine needed for normal cats was 1.3ppm, but the latest research suggests that the cat diet should contain around 0.46 ppm iodine. Iodine restriction lower than this for cat with hyperthyroidism might help. Consult your veterinarian before starting such diet.
What is the Best Food to Feed a Cat with Hyperthyroidism?
The best food to feed cats with hyperthyroidism is one that is rich in high-quality, species-appropriate protein and low in carbohydrates. It should also be free from ingredients that may contribute to thyroid disease. Research reveals that senior cats have higher protein and energy needs than kittens. If these needs aren’t met, they experience muscle mass loss.
An ideal diet for cats with hyperthyroidism should offer 50% calories from protein. The protein sources should be highly digestible and free of fillers like meat by products, pea protein, wheat gluten, potato protein, and corn gluten meal. Ideally, your cat should be fed a diet that contains less than 10% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis (without water content).
To address the issue of insulin resistance and glucose tolerance, which is often a result of hyperthyroidism, you must control the dietary carbohydrate and sugar levels in the cat’s diet.
Many prescription diets will help with this. Veterinarians can recommend a prescription food which you can freely buy, even select from our lists of recommended cat foods for hyperthyroidism.
Which Cat Foods to Avoid When Feeding A Hyperthyroid Cat?
Get Lower Iodine Cat Food – Avoid Fish as Protein Source
The first thing you must avoid is fish-based foods. According to a 2000 study, cats that were fed canned cat food in giblets, liver, or fish flavors were found to be at a higher risk of hyperthyroidism. It is worth noting that oceanic creatures such as fish have higher iodine levels than other foods. Iodine is fundamental to thyroid functioning, and that’s why it is connected with the disease. However, it hasn’t been proven that a higher proportion of iodine in a cat’s diet is the only cause behind hyperthyroidism.
BPA Free Canned Cat Food For Hyperthiroidism
Make sure that the canned food you are feeding your cat is BPA-Free, particularly in cans with pop-top lids. Cats that are regularly fed canned food are at an increased risk of thyroid disease. The cans are usually coated with an epoxy lining, which contains BPA. BPA is a potent thyroid receptor antagonist and may cause considerable modification in the thyroid function.
Another ingredient that pet owners must avoid is soy. Your cat shouldn’t consume soy if it suffers from hyperthyroidism. In a study, researchers fed 18 healthy adult cats soy and soy-free diet for three months. They found that cats on a soy-based diet had significantly higher levels of total thyroxine (T4) and free T4 (fT4) concentrations. Hence, it was concluded that a soy-based diet had some impact on the thyroid levels of the hormone.
Cat Foods for Hyperthyroidism FAQs
There are four options available for treating feline hyperthyroidism, including medication, surgery, radioactive iodine therapy, and dietary therapy. The vet will suggest a suitable treatment after assessing the specific circumstances of the patient, the cat’s overall health condition, and the pet owner’s financial considerations.
Yes, if left untreated, the disease ‘s symptoms can be painful and may lead to secondary disease. Unmanaged untreated thyroid disease can compromise the normal functioning of the cat’s heart and lead to heart failure. That’s why cats with hyperthyroidism usually require additional treatment for controlling/preventing a secondary disease.
If your cat is under treatment for hyperthyroidism, your vet will most probably prescribe an iodine restricted diet. If this is the case, your cat cannot eat anything other than prescription foods. Do not feed any cat treats or allow the cat to hunt for food because cats with hyperthyroidism shouldn’t be fed anything else but a prescription diet.
The role of iodine in hyperthyroidism is yet unclear, but researchers agree that lowering iodine intake can keep a normal cat healthy. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, a normal cat weighing around 4kg BW and energy needs of 0.22 MJ ME/kg BW should not consume more than 227 μg iodine/MJ ME.
Research on the connection between iodine and hyperthyroidism suggests that limiting the amount of dietary iodine can be a viable treatment option to lower the thyroxine levels in cats. Decreasing your cat’s iodine intake can be particularly effective in cats with certain medical conditions that make other treatment options unfeasible.