Treatment Options

Hyperthyroidism is a very curable disease, with several treatment options available.



Highly Treatable

Feline hyperthyroidism is a highly treatable and curable disease if diagnosed early.  Take action as soon as you see symptoms.  Waiting too long leads to irreversible damage to the heart, kidneys, and other organs.

There are 3 treatments for hyperthyroidism in cats:

  • Surgery
  • Medication
  • I-131 (Iodine) Treatment

Don’t Wait

Thyroid hormones affect many organs in the body, and long-term effects of hyperthyroidism can be fatal.  What happens to our cuddly companions when we continue to ignore this dangerous condition?

  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure affects your cat’s heart, brain, and kidneys (among other organs). Now the problem has doubled.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickened heart muscle). Eventually the heart muscle gets so thick the heart can’t pump blood effectively anymore.
  • Swelling of the eyes that can lead to blindness
  • Increased risk of stroke

Advantages and Disadvantages


I 131 Therapy

Advantages

  • Cures the condition
  • Over 95% of cats are cured with one treatment
  • Treats damaged tissue without damaging healthy tissue
  • No harmful side effects
  • No anesthesia

Disadvantages

  • Must be a good candidate without any underlying kidney disease
  • Requires hospitalization for 3-5 days following treatment

Medical Therapy (Methimazole – Tapazole®)

Advantages

  • Can start treatment immediately
  • Is an option for all cats
  • Low startup costs

Disadvantages

  • Requires daily administration of medication that can be stressful to pet and owner
  • Does not cure the condition, pill must be give daily for the rest of the cat’s life
  • 20% of cats have side effects, which can cause liver and/or kidney problems
  • Adverse effects on red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
  • Requires frequent monitoring and laboratory tests to assess patient’s response to therapy
  • Because of daily pilling and frequent laboratory monitoring, annual cost for methimazole therapy can range from $600 to $1200 per year

Surgical Therapy

Advantages

  • Cures the condition

Disadvantages

  • Requires anesthesia; hyperthyroid patients (due to their disease) are greater anesthetic risks
  • Has a 10% mortality rate
  • Requires hospitalization for 3-5 days following surgery
  • Must be a good candidate.  The cat must be able to withstand anesthesia.  Those too frail or with kidney/heart problems are not good candidates
  • Costs $700-$1300 for one surgery
  • 80% chance of tumor growth on the remaining thyroid, leading to high probability of a second surgery
  • May result in a deficiency of parathyroid hormone
  • May not be effective in removing all of the affected thyroid tissue.  If thyroid tissue is in the chest, surgery is not possible

Comparisons

  Medication I-131
Is it a cure? No Yes
Is one treatment usually enough? No, medication needs to be given daily for the rest of the cat’s life Yes, in over 95% of cases
Can all cats be treated? Yes No, there must be no underlying kidney condition to be a good candidate
Is hospitalization required? No Yes, for 3-5 days following treatment (for observation)
Are there side effects? Yes, in about 20% of cats.  They include anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and low blood cell counts. Very rarely, there are side effects such as lethargy and sore throat
Is it high risk? Yes, medicine does not cure the disease, which can lead to many complications.  Cardiomyopathy can occur, even if thyroid levels are back to normal. No, I-131 cures diseased tissue without harming healthy tissue
What is the cost? $600-$1200 per year for the course of the cat’s life $700-1300 one-time charge
  Surgery I-131
Is it a cure? Yes Yes
Is one treatment usually enough? No, 80% of cases show tumor growth on remaining thyroid within 2 years Yes, in over 95% of cases
Can all cats be treated? No, frail cats, or those with kidney/heart problems are not good candidates No, there must be no underlying kidney condition to be a good candidate
Are there side effects? Yes, they include lethargy, vomiting, and nausea Very rarely, there are side effects, such as lethargy and sore throat
Is it high risk? Yes, there is a 10% mortality rate with surgery No, I-131 cures diseased tissue without harming healthy tissue
What is the cost? $700-$1300 per surgery $700-1300 one-time charge