By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
Did you know that peeing and pooping outside of the litter box can be signs of hyperthyroidism? It’s true. The thyroid controls our bodies’ metabolism—that goes for people and for cats. It also affects our behavior.
Earl Gray, my cat, recently started peeing and pooping outside of his litter box. He has been with us for 15 years. We found him as a cat and our vet guestimated that Earl was four years old when we found him. So at age 19, he started exhibiting this undesirable behavior. He also lost weight, even though he was eating a good amount of cat food.
From the moment he hobbled into our home (Earl was found with a badly broken leg), he had impeccable litter box manners. He never missed, and was careful to always cover up his pee and poop.
So after a few days Earl had a series of blood work done, and the test for hyperthyroidism came back positive.
The common signs for hyperthyroidism are:
• Weight loss
• Increased appetite
• Diarrhea and/or vomiting
• Increased thirst
• Poor skin and coat condition
The one symptom that is often overlooked is behavior. My vet said that an over active thyroid will affect a cat’s behavior. That is why Earl was exhibiting these undesirable traits. I knew something was wrong because his behavior was out of the norm.
The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism—in cats and in humans. It also controls our bodies temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and gastrointestinal function. If your cat has hyperthyroidism, his thyroid gland will be enlarged. It will also produce large amounts of thyroid hormone—making it overactive.
Hyperthyroidism is common in older cats. Many cats over the age of 10 are diagnosed with this disease. The good news is that it is treatable. Our vet recommended Methimazole, a pill you can get at your pharmacy with a prescription from your vet. Earl had to take half a pill in the morning and the other half at night.
I mixed it into his food, and most of the time he ate it. The pill is extremely tiny—like the size of a small birthmark.
Pilling a cat can be tough. I’ve had to give meds to my other cats, and almost always the bowl was licked clean with a tiny pill at the bottom.
Earl took his pill. I purchased a small amount of American cheese and would wrap a tiny bit around the pill. He usually ate it that way. I know cheese is not the best food for a cat, but it worked. I hate American cheese, but it is quite malleable and hid the pill completely.
A month later, I took Earl back to the vet and he got a good report. He even gained a half pound. My veterinarian wanted me to forgo the pill and change Earl’s diet to the new Hill’s Prescription Diet y/d Feline Thyroid Health brand pet food.
I had just toured the Hill’s plant and learned about this new formula. Hill’s Prescription Diet y/d Feline Thyroid Health brand limits the levels of dietary iodine to reduce thyroid hormone production and helps restore thyroid heath. It also supports kidney function. The controlled mineral levels in the food help maintain a healthy bladder, and the high levels of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids promotes healthy skin and coat. Plus, it promotes heart health with essential nutrients like taurine and carnitine.
If you suspect your cat has hyperthyroidism, take him to your vet for a blood test. You can try this new diet, which is only available at veterinarians’ offices. The food comes in cans and dry. I never fed Earl dry food, but honestly, he doesn’t like the cans. He eats the dry food.
We go back to the vet in another week. So far, he is doing well. He has been on the diet for three weeks now. I’ve stopped giving him meds, and he is using his litter box. I was so excited because he started covering his poop, which most cats do, and he has always done—except while he was sick.
So if your cat starts exhibiting unusual behaviors, take him to the vet. If you give your cat Hill’s y/d, I would love to hear from you. I know it’s new, but I’m curious to learn how it is working for your cat.