Last Updated: February 13, 2024
If you think your cat may be suffering from hyperthyroidism, it’s essential to get it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. This disease left untreated can cause serious health problems for your cat and even lead to death. This article addresses the signs of a cat dying of thyroid disease and tips for managing this condition, as well as when to euthanize a cat with hyperthyroidism.
What Is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone T4 and T3, which can result in weight loss, increased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and excessive meowing. All these are possible signs your cat is dying, and if left untreated, the disease can be fatal.
Even though hyperthyroidism can occur in dogs and cats, it’s much more common in middle-aged cats. It’s estimated that late-stage hyperthyroidism in cats develops in about one-third of all cats over the age of 12.
|DID YOU KNOW? Hyperthyroidism is most commonly caused by a benign thyroid tumor (adenoma) in cats of all breeds—although males are affected more frequently than females.
Signs Your Cat Is Dying of Thyroid Disease
If you think your pet is acting strangely, feeling sick, or showing other unusual symptoms, you should immediately take it to the closest vet clinic. The following alarm signs could indicate that your cat is dying of thyroid disease.
Weight loss is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism due to the thyroid hormone speeding up the body’s metabolism, causing your cat to lose weight—even if it’s eating more than usual.
The cat’s weight reduction is typically progressive. It generally appears as a loss of muscle mass around the cat’s back (spine) in the early stages. A cat dying from hyperthyroidism can display severe muscle atrophy, emaciation, and starvation over time if not treated correctly.
Increased Appetite and Thirst
The thyroid hormone also increases the body’s metabolism, which can cause your cat to become very thirsty and eat more than usual because its body tries to make up for the energy it burns.
Some cats can double their food intake and frequently beg for food due to the rise in appetite. Hyperthyroid cats eat more to make up for their greater metabolic rate, requiring increased calories.
Diarrhea and urination are also symptoms of late-stage hyperthyroidism in cats due to the thyroid hormone speeding up the digestive process, causing diarrhea—even if they’re not eating much.
Soft stools and diarrhea can occur in approximately one-third of cats with hyperthyroidism. Other cats frequently defecate large, voluminous feces. Of course, rapid gastrointestinal transit would be a reason for increased defecation, soft stools, and diarrhea.
Another symptom of hyperthyroidism is vomiting, as the thyroid hormone can cause the stomach to empty quickly—even if your cat isn’t consuming much food. If you catch this in time, you could prolong the lifespan of your cat with hyperthyroidism.
Vomiting can be caused by the direct action of thyroid hormones on the chemoreceptor trigger zone in the brain. It can also occur due to gastric stasis (delayed stomach emptying).
The thyroid hormone speeds up a cat’s metabolism that can translate into hyperactivity, causing your cat to be very active—even if it isn’t a breed known for such behavior.
Cats with hyperthyroidism are prone to excessive activity, often manifested as restlessness or nervousness. Muscle tremors or spasms can also be observed in extreme hyperthyroidism, often seen in a cat’s anxious or frantic face.
Untreated hyperthyroidism in cats can lead to heart failure and death due to the thyroid hormone increasing their heart rate, causing cardiac issues. In addition, cat thyroid symptoms can include changes in meowing, which sometimes indicates heart pain.
High Blood Pressure
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is another hyperthyroidism risk factor that can cause damage to many organs, including the eyes, kidneys, heart, and brain. If hypertension is detected with hyperthyroidism, a medicine may be required to regulate blood pressure and reduce the danger of damage to other organs.
Hair changes—such as your cat’s haircoat becoming matted and dull—are some of the signs your cat is dying of thyroid disease due to the thyroid hormone causing the hair to become thin and brittle. In addition, some hyperthyroid cats may compulsively groom, resulting in baldness or a crusty rash, usually accompanied by sharp pain.
Such behavior might be linked to an underlying skin allergy, but the cat’s apparent obsessive and compulsive conduct—exacerbated by increased lapping and grooming—aggravates the condition.
|DID YOU KNOW? Only 5% of cats with hyperthyroidism are younger than 10 years of age. The average age of hyperthyroid cats is approximately 12 years.
|Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.
|Symptoms that your cat is dying of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, increased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and excessive meowing—if left untreated, the disease can be fatal.
|Most cats with hyperthyroidism can be managed with treatment and live an expected lifespan.
|Some cats with hyperthyroidism may only have mild symptoms, while others may become very ill.
|If a cat is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and treatment is started in time, it may live for several years. But if it’s not treated, it may only live a few months.
How Long Does a Cat Live With Hyperthyroidism?
Most cats with hyperthyroidism can be managed with treatment and live a normal lifespan.
If your cat is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and is treated in time, it could live for several years. But if it’s not treated, it may only live a few months.
When to Euthanize a Cat With Hyperthyroidism
Euthanizing a cat with hyperthyroidism is a difficult decision for pet owners. Consult your veterinarian if you’re in such a situation and aren’t sure if euthanasia is the right decision. They can help you decide if it’s the best thing for your cat and if it’s in pain.
Nevertheless, it’s not a simple decision that you should be rushed into. So note the following factors that you and your vet should consider.
Your Cat’s State
When to put a cat to sleep with hyperthyroidism is a heartbreaking decision. If your cat is in pain and has lost a lot of weight or declining health, then it may be time to consider euthanasia. If your cat, however, is still relatively healthy and comfortable, then you may want to wait a little longer. You should also consider how well your cat responds to treatment and medication.
Cat owners, no doubt, wish that cat hyperthyroidism could be put to sleep instead of their cats. Your veterinarian, however, should consider the disease stage of your cat with hyperthyroidism and its life expectancy before suggesting palliative care or euthanasia. For example, if your cat is in the early stages of hyperthyroidism and responds well to treatment, it may have a good quality of life for several years. But if your cat is in the late, painful stages of the disease and declining in health, euthanasia may be the best option.
Your cat’s age can be a crucial factor in managing treatment and recovery. For instance, if your cat is young, it may have a better quality of life than a senior cat—even if they’re both in the late stages of the disease.
When inquiring about the symptoms of late-stage hyperthyroidism in cats, you should also consider how much money you’re willing to spend on treatment before euthanizing your cat, as well as your emotional condition.
If your cat has other health problems—such as heart disease or high blood pressure—euthanasia may be the best option. Unfortunately, treating hyperthyroidism can be challenging when your cat has other health problems. So chances of prolonging the lifespan of your cat with hyperthyroidism while suffering from other comorbidities are slim. But before making decisions, it’s vital to talk with your veterinarian about all of your options. Moreover, cat owners may need to consider euthanizing their pets if they suffer from kidney failure, FIV, or diabetes when burdened with hyperthyroidism.
|DID YOU KNOW? No one breed of cat is more likely to develop hyperthyroidism. Still, Siamese, Burmese, Persian, Abyssinian, and Himalayan cats appear to have a somewhat lower incidence of the disease than other breeds.
When to put a cat to sleep with hyperthyroidism is a painful decision. If you’re not sure if you should put down your cat, consult your doctor. They can help you decide if your cat is in pain and if surgery could help or if euthanasia is the best option or provide other alternatives. If you choose to euthanize your pet, you can learn more about the pet cremation process and cost here.
If a cat is not treated for hyperthyroidism, it may only live a few months. But if treatment starts in time, they could live several years.
Cats with hyperthyroidism may suffer from various symptoms, including weight loss, increased appetite, and excessive meowing. But if they’re treated and have a good quality of life, they may not experience any symptoms.
Some older cats with hyperthyroidism may experience discomfort, while others may not show symptoms. Sometimes, though, time will tell when to euthanize a cat with hyperthyroidism.