Cats sometimes face problems by an imbalance of hormones. Hormones are secreted by various glands in the body and serve many purposes. The various functions controlled by the hormones are metabolism rate, reproduction, production and use of insulin, stress response, water balance, red blood cell production, digestion and other key body functions. Shortage or excess of hormones like thyroid, insulin, etc., may be the cause of several serious diseases in the cats.
Disorder in cat hormones occur when the glands either produce a lesser or greater amount of a particular hormone. The most common hormonal problems in cats are diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism.
Diabetes Mellitus: In this disorder, there is a dysfunction in the amount and availability of insulin as secreted by the pancreas. This leads to increase in blood sugar level and other problems. The exact cause for diabetes mellitus is not known, though it is considered to be related to obesity, genes or pancreas disease.
Hyperthyroidism: In older cats, this disease which results from imbalance of thyroid hormones is very common. Your cat may lose weight without any loss in appetite; its fur-coat will appear dull and unkempt too. The cause is still unknown, in some cases it is said to be due to cancer. Secondary heart and kidney diseases may also develop, but once the thyroid problem is treated, these conditions may eventually disappear.
Another problem which occurs due to hormones is hypothyroidism, though it is uncommon in cats. If your cat is facing this problem, it may gain weight suddenly without any change in diet. Skin and hair coat would become dry and flaky and the cat may become lethargic.
Diabetes: It can be detected through symptoms followed by blood and urine tests. Though there is no perfect cure, but effective insulin replacement is a good control. Insulin requirements of your cat might change and must be monitored carefully. Controlling diet and exercising may help. Cats are given daily insulin injections under the skin. For less severe cases, a variety of oral medications is also available.
Hyperthyroidism: The detection of this hormones imbalance is done through blood tests. Again, this disease is not completely curable, but can be controlled with help of medication. Orally given Tapazole tablets are very effective and work for most cats. Radiotherapy is another option, where radioactive Iodine injections destroy the abnormal thyroid tissue. This is quite an expensive option. Surgical removal of the affected thyroid tissue is another option, though this is risky and not totally effective.
If the blood sugar levels are not too high, alternate diabetes therapy can be taken up to tackle the hormones problem in cats. Many companies produce commercial food especially formulated for cats. An increase in dietary fiber is also helpful. You may add one teaspoon chopped alfalfa powder, one half teaspoon oat bran, carrots or cooked beans and squash.
Early detection of the imbalance in hormones is very necessary. So watch out for any unusual behavior or physical problems your cat might be facing, Losing appetite or eating too much, loss in shine and thickness of fur coat, frequent urination, urinary track infections, lethargic behavior etc., are signs and symptoms that need to be checked. Approach a veterinarian as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. The hormonal imbalance if checked in time can help to control damage effectively.