Feline hyperthyroidism (Proceedings)


Feline hyperthyroidism (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2008


A. The most common endocrine disorder in the cat.

B. First cases of functional thyroid tumors reported in 1978.


A. Thyroid adenoma or adenomatous hyperplasia.

B. 80 % are bilateral on presentation.

C. 12% due to thyroid carcinoma.

D. Etiology unknown:

Two recent large studies have looked at possible environmental or dietary factors involved in the pathogenesis of hyperthyroidism. One of the studies with a case controlled design looked at 100 cats with hyperthyroidism and 163 control cats. The cats medical records were reviewed and the owners were asked to complete a mailed questionnaire. Data included demographic variables, environmental exposures and diet to include the preferred flavors of canned cat food. In this study, housing, exposure to fertilizers, herbicides, regular use of flea products, and the presence of a smoker in the house were not associated with an increased risk but cats that preferred fish or liver and giblets flavors of canned cat food had an increased risk. The results suggested that cats that prefer to eat certain flavors of canned cat food may have a significantly increased risk of hyperthyroidism.

In the second case controlled study owners of 379 hyperthyroid and 351 control cats were questioned about their cats' exposure to potential risk factors including breed, demographic factors, medical history, indoor environment, chemicals applied to the cat and environment, and diet. The association between these hypothesized risk factors and outcome of disease was evaluated. Two genetically related cat breeds (Siamese and Himalayan) were found to have diminished risk of developing hyperthyroidism. Cats that used litter had higher risk of developing hyperthyroidism than those that did not. Use of topical ectoparasite preparations was associated with increased risk of developing hyperthyroidism. Compared with cats that did not eat canned food, those that ate commercially prepared canned food had an approximate 2-fold increase in risk of disease. When these 4 variables (breed, use of cat litter, consumption of canned cat food, and use of topical ectoparasite preparations) from the univariate analysis were selected for further, a persistent protective effect of breed (Siamese or Himalayan) was found. In addition, results suggested a 2- to 3-fold increase in risk of developing hyperthyroidism among cats eating a diet composed mostly of canned cat food and a 3-fold increase in risk among those using cat litter. In contrast, the use of commercial flea products did not retain a strong association. The results of this study indicate that further research into dietary and other potentially important environmental factors (cat litter) is warranted.

Altered G protein expression was found in thyroid gland tissue from hyperthyroid cats compared to normal control cats. Adenomatous thyroid glands obtained from 8 hyperthyroid cats and thyroid glands obtained from 4 age-matched euthyroid cats were examined for expression of G inhibitory protein (Gi) and G stimulatory protein (Gs). Expression of G(i) was significantly reduced in thyroid gland adenomas from hyperthyroid cats, compared with normal thyroid gland tissue from euthyroid cats. Expression of G(s) was similar between the 2 groups. A decrease in expression of G(i) in adenomatous thyroid glands of cats may reduce the negative inhibition of the cAMP cascade in thyroid cells, leading to autonomous growth and hypersecretion of thyroxine. What we don't know is why or what causes the reduction in G(i) in hyperthyroid cats. The factors mentioned above in the studies of environmental and dietary risk factors may play in role in altering the G protein expression found in this study.