Endocrine diseases in cats


Our cats are more and more affected by endocrinopathies. These endocrine gland disorders can cause various symptoms that disrupt the life of the animal and some of them can even, if left untreated, prove fatal. Let’s find out in a few words what an endocrine disease is and put a spotlight on those that are most frequently diagnosed in cats.

What is an endocrine disease?

Endocrine disease is a condition that affects the endocrine system. This is made up of hormone-secreting glands or endocrine glands. Thepituitary is the main one, which is why she is considered a true conductor of metabolism.

Endocrine disease can therefore affect humans as well as animals. In any living being, the slightest disturbance of the hormonal system causes a whole series of symptoms, and must be taken care of as quickly as possible by a health professional.

In cats, endocrine-like metabolic diseases the most frequent are:

  • Hyperthyroidism,
  • Hypothyroidism,
  • Diabetes,
  • Cushing’s syndrome,
  • Cushing’s disease.

Much more rarely, a cat can develop acromegaly, another endocrine disease.

Hyperthyroidism in cats

This endocrine disease can be deadly in the absence of treatment. Its process is a adenomatous hyperplasia, that is, a benign adenoma. It is mainly cats aged 10 years or more that are affected, the risk increasing with age. Disease impacts the metabolism and manifests itself in the production of a large amount of hormones, far beyond the norm.

The cat who suffers from hyperthyroidism suddenly becomes restless and anxious, and while he was gentle as a lamb, he showed himself aggressive. It is therefore very important to consult the veterinarian as soon as there is a flagrant metamorphosis in the animal’s character. This change can be so important that the owner sometimes no longer recognizes his little companion. But the cat presents in addition toother symptoms For example :

  • An increase in appetite and weight loss despite everything,
  • A dullness of the coat,
  • A heart murmur,
  • Vomitings,
  • Diarrhea,
  • A nodule in the neck,
  • Intense thirst and increased urine volume as the cat drinks more than usual.

Hypothyroidism in cats

Hypothyroidism in cats occurs when the thyroid no longer produces enough hormones, either because of a malfunction, or because of its destruction. There are indeed two distinct cases:

  • Theidiopathic atrophy due to the replacement, by fatty cells, of thyroid cells,
  • The lymphocytic thyroiditis due to the destruction of thyroid cells as the body begins to produce antibodies against its own cells.

In a cat with hypothyroidism, we notice upheavals at different levels since the metabolism is poorly regulated. Insufficient secretion of thyroid hormones leads to variable symptoms from one cat to another, for example:

  • Significant fatigue (lethargy),
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty tolerating low temperatures,
  • Weight gain,
  • Hair that becomes dull and falls out,
  • Edema of the face,
  • Behavioral disorders.

These are mainly the cats 2 to 6 years old who are affected by this endocrine disease, regardless of their gender and race. We must be vigilant because the manifestations whose origin is a thyroid hormone deficiency appear gradually, which may therefore go unnoticed.

Diabetes mellitus

It is quite common in cats. It manifests itself by a increased level of glucose in the blood. The operation of pancreas being disrupted, this gland no longer makes enough insulin so that the sugar taken from food ends up accumulating, which is very serious for the cat. It is essential that diabetes mellitus is diagnosed as early as possible for the animal to benefit from monitoring. The master who notices a weight loss unexplained at his cat must consult as soon as possible.

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus are:

  • An increase in hunger, thirst, and consequently the cat urinates more frequently and the volume of urine increases,
  • Weight loss despite increased food intake,
  • Increased sensitivity to urinary problems,
  • Tarnishing of the fur,
  • Hair loss.

Some of these symptoms may be due to other health problems, if in doubt a consultation is required.

Cushing’s syndrome in cats, to be distinguished from Cushing’s disease

The Cushing’s syndrome occurs when a disorder appears in the adrenal glands located above each kidney. It may be an adenoma or an adenocarcinoma (cancer). This results in a increased cortisol secretion (stress hormone) from which 15% of hypercoticism cases arise mainly affecting diabetic cats aged from 7 to 12 years old. This hypersecretion has a direct impact on the functioning of the pituitary gland which suddenly produces less hormones.

About the Cushing’s disease, its cause is secondary hypersecretion due, in 9 out of 10 cases, to a pituitary adenoma which disrupts the functioning of this endocrine gland, namely the pituitary gland.

The most common symptom in the case of Cushing is a extreme fragility of the skin. The skin can tear very easily if the cat is grabbed by the neck, and the damage caused is irreversible. The skin having become extremely thin no longer heals or heals poorly, so much so that by licking itself, the cat can cause sores.

It should be noted, however, that in extremely rare cases Cushing’s disease may be due to lung tumor, but then the cause is non-endocrine.

Acromegaly in cats

Less frequent than the other endocrine diseases detailed previously, acromegaly can also occur in our little felines. It is due to a excessive secretion, by the pituitary gland, growth hormone.

This pathology has for primary cause a pituitary gland tumor or pituitary. It is usually diagnosed in cats who also present with a insulin-resistant diabetes mellitus. Acromegaly mainly affects castrated cats, already adults or even seniors, who have long since completed their growth.

The acromegalic cat continues to grow, presents organs larger than usual, a wider face, a protrusion of the maxillary bones towards the front (this is what is called the prognathism). Even the size of its carp (front feet) is undergoing changes.

Endocrine diseases in cats are not never harmless, some may even engage the vital prognosis. In some cases, the treatment can be long and involve significant expense. As no cat is immune to an endocrine gland dysfunction, it is very important that its owner assures it as soon as possible with a animal health mutual. This allows the animal to be cared for and / or monitored at lower cost. All you have to do is use a cat health insurance comparator to study the different formulas offered by insurance companies, the scope of guarantees and the prices.

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