My cat's hyperthyroidism is successfully treated with a low-iodine diet.

MarcyMM

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Buddy was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism at age 13, after a year and a half of eating a cat food that was "guaranteed" to cause weight loss. Yes, he had lost weight on that stuff, but he'd become very ill, too: he was vomiting several times a day, anxious and yowling all the time, drinking and peeing great volumes of water, was too weak to jump up on a sofa, he even got aggressive with me. The vet also said Buddy’s heart rate was dangerously fast, and he was dehydrated despite all the water he drank. I learned later that the weight-loss cat food he'd been eating contained excessive iodine, which likely over-stimulated his thyroid gland and may have caused the thyroid tumors. When the vet told me the treatment options I balked: either surgically remove his thyroid gland and give him thyroid hormone supplements the rest of his life, or give him anti-thyroid medication the rest of his life. Either would require many expensive vet visits to adjust his thyroid hormone levels until he was stable. I told her I'd think it over. Meanwhile I decided to restrict the iodine in his diet. As soon as I changed his diet Buddy stopped vomiting, and over the next several months all his other symptoms cleared up. The iodine-restricted diet meant no fish or seafood, no salted human foods because table salt is usually iodized, and no cat food containing iodine supplements in the form of potassium iodide, calcium iodate, or kelp. I spent hours in the pet stores read all the cat food labels, and I could not find ANY cat food that didn't contain either fish or iodine supplements, or both. So I fed him raw poultry and unsalted bone broth. (My reasoning was that cats evolved eating whole animals including bones, and raw meat was only muscle, so I surmised that bone broth should contain some of the nutrients in bones that he needs.) Eventually I found Hill’s prescription low-iodine YD food, and this is mainly what he's been eating for almost 2 years. I also give him raw ground chicken sometimes, and unsalted bone broth because he loves it. He's now 15 -- and in perfect health! He recently had blood work done and all his blood levels are normal, including his thyroid hormone level. Buddy’s vet said she'd never heard of treating hyperthyroidism with diet alone, but told me to keep doing what I'm doing because it's clearly working.
It's my guess that the iodine supplements in cat foods may be causing a lot of the hyperthyroidism in cats.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Good for you! Food, such as you are giving Buddy, is a first line of defense in resolving issues with hyperthyroidism for many vets. And, while it doesn't work for many cats, it seems as it is doing its job for Buddy.

Although plenty of time and resources have been devoted to studying hyperthyroidism, its real cause is still elusive. Some believe that an imbalance of iodine in commercial cat foods or the exposure to environmental materials such as hydrocarbons (phenols, phthalates, etc.) potentially predispose humans and animals to thyroid diseases. Others think that it is possible that hyperthyroidism in cats is caused by circulating immune system factors. Many hypotheses exist, but none have proven to be the single accepted reason why cats become affected by this disease.

Your case might be rare (I hope so, and it seems to be), but most cats who have hyperthyroidism have tumors on their thyroid glands (and, in some cases, surrounding tissue areas) that continue to grow regardless of diet or thyroid meds. The diet or meds block the hormone production, helping to minimize the symptoms, but they can't block the tumor growth. So, the larger the tumors grow the more it takes to offset eliminating the production of the glands' hormones.

So, just keep an eye on your Buddy and get him checked often!!
 

Antonio65

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When the vet told me the treatment options I balked: either surgically remove his thyroid gland and give him thyroid hormone supplements the rest of his life, or give him anti-thyroid medication the rest of his life.
I wonder why your vet didn't mention the third option, the golden option, which is the I-131 treatment. It's a one-off treatment, effective in 99% of cases. It's as expensive as a year and a quarter worth of anti-hyperthyroid (methimazole) medication and monthly vet checks and blood panels, but it is really worth it.

When a cat is hyperthyroid, there's no medical treatment or special diet that can fix the issue, because the problem keeps profressing despite our/vet's interventions, and things can only get worse.
 

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Hello! I am new to the forums and stumbled on this particular thread with a search of info for cats with hyperthyroidism.
I am glad that your Buddy is doing well. My cat, Cookie, was just diagnosed with HT a few days ago, and I really didn't know the right questions to ask the Vet, so I feel a little bit lost at the moment. She didn't recommend the oral meds because she said it can make a cat feel worse. She advised that we manage it with her diet. She put Cookie on the same food you are giving Buddy. There was no mention of the l-131 treatment (which I've read about in my searches). I don't think there's anyone in my area that does that, but I will go back and see if I can speak with my Vet and get more answers. We caught it early with my cat, and all of her other blood work looks good. She's 11 years old. Kidney function is good.
Any advice with the diet would be helpful! My cats have always been on Science Diet dry food, but now she will be on they thyroid care kind; and my other one will stay on her kitten Science Diet. I will eliminate all moist food that is of the fish variety for the younger one too. I want to be sure and give Cookie a good protein source that's safe for her.
 

Antonio65

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Hello! I am new to the forums and stumbled on this particular thread with a search of info for cats with hyperthyroidism.
I am glad that your Buddy is doing well. My cat, Cookie, was just diagnosed with HT a few days ago, and I really didn't know the right questions to ask the Vet, so I feel a little bit lost at the moment. She didn't recommend the oral meds because she said it can make a cat feel worse. She advised that we manage it with her diet. She put Cookie on the same food you are giving Buddy. There was no mention of the l-131 treatment (which I've read about in my searches). I don't think there's anyone in my area that does that, but I will go back and see if I can speak with my Vet and get more answers. We caught it early with my cat, and all of her other blood work looks good. She's 11 years old. Kidney function is good.
Any advice with the diet would be helpful! My cats have always been on Science Diet dry food, but now she will be on they thyroid care kind; and my other one will stay on her kitten Science Diet. I will eliminate all moist food that is of the fish variety for the younger one too. I want to be sure and give Cookie a good protein source that's safe for her.
Hi and welcome to TCS!
I'm sorry to read about your cat Cookie and her HT.
I would suggest you to start a thread of your own to get all the answers to your questions. It will be easier for you to follow the replies you will receive.
Take care and, again, welcome!
 

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MarcyMM MarcyMM , I'm really glad you found what was causing your cat's H-T and solved it. I would like, if you are comfortable with it, to know what diet food you were giving your cat. My chubby girl is on a diet and your post has left me more than concerned about her food.
 

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MarcyMM MarcyMM , I'm really glad you found what was causing your cat's H-T and solved it. I would like, if you are comfortable with it, to know what diet food you were giving your cat. My chubby girl is on a diet and your post has left me more than concerned about her food.
The OP hasn't been back on this site since January, so I doubt you will hear from them.
 

Kflowers

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C Chit Chat welcome to The Cat Site. Where diet maybe not be everything in an illness, we know it has a great deal to do with recovery and how the individual feels. I wish I had more information at hand, but I don't. I would suggest checking iodine levels on the food you have and if you can't find the numbers, which I couldn't on my cat's food, write the company. If the company doesn't answer within a week, just assume the level is rather high. Why else wouldn't they answer? All companies have customer service.
 
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MarcyMM

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Hello! I am new to the forums and stumbled on this particular thread with a search of info for cats with hyperthyroidism.
I am glad that your Buddy is doing well. My cat, Cookie, was just diagnosed with HT a few days ago, and I really didn't know the right questions to ask the Vet, so I feel a little bit lost at the moment. She didn't recommend the oral meds because she said it can make a cat feel worse. She advised that we manage it with her diet. She put Cookie on the same food you are giving Buddy. There was no mention of the l-131 treatment (which I've read about in my searches). I don't think there's anyone in my area that does that, but I will go back and see if I can speak with my Vet and get more answers. We caught it early with my cat, and all of her other blood work looks good. She's 11 years old. Kidney function is good.
Any advice with the diet would be helpful! My cats have always been on Science Diet dry food, but now she will be on they thyroid care kind; and my other one will stay on her kitten Science Diet. I will eliminate all moist food that is of the fish variety for the younger one too. I want to be sure and give Cookie a good protein source that's safe for her.
My Buddy is now 18 and his blood tests show ALL normal levels - everyhing! The vet says he's in amazingly good health for his age. He looks great, and though he's not very frisky, you'd never know he's a senior cat. This is after being diagnosed 5 years ago with hyperthyroid disease, heart arrythmia, and "apparent" kidney disease. He's lost some of his teeth now and doesn't eat dry cat food at all. For the last few years I've been feeding him the Hill's Y/D canned food, alternating with raw meat. For the raw meat, I buy ground chicken, ground turkey, and raw chicken livers (I chop the livers lightly in the blender), plus some bone meal, from a local farm store that sells only organic meats, and I mix all that together with a dash of psillium fiber (because the raw meat has no fiber and makes him constipated). I freeze small portions of the meat mixture and thaw them as needed. So one day he gets Hills YD and the next day raw meat. He's a little overweight, but he looks so much better than he did when he was hyperthyroid and emaciated. I am convinced the standard cat foods he ate prior to the diagnosis are what caused the hyperthyroid condition, because they all contain supplemental iodine - too much iodine, which overstimulates the thyroid gland and eventually causes the tumors on the thyroid gland and hyperthyroid disease. I love him like crazy and I'm so glad I still have him with me and healthy!
20130224_152838.jpg
 
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MarcyMM

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Hi. Good for you! Food, such as you are giving Buddy, is a first line of defense in resolving issues with hyperthyroidism for many vets. And, while it doesn't work for many cats, it seems as it is doing its job for Buddy.

Although plenty of time and resources have been devoted to studying hyperthyroidism, its real cause is still elusive. Some believe that an imbalance of iodine in commercial cat foods or the exposure to environmental materials such as hydrocarbons (phenols, phthalates, etc.) potentially predispose humans and animals to thyroid diseases. Others think that it is possible that hyperthyroidism in cats is caused by circulating immune system factors. Many hypotheses exist, but none have proven to be the single accepted reason why cats become affected by this disease.

Your case might be rare (I hope so, and it seems to be), but most cats who have hyperthyroidism have tumors on their thyroid glands (and, in some cases, surrounding tissue areas) that continue to grow regardless of diet or thyroid meds. The diet or meds block the hormone production, helping to minimize the symptoms, but they can't block the tumor growth. So, the larger the tumors grow the more it takes to offset eliminating the production of the glands' hormones.

So, just keep an eye on your Buddy and get him checked often!!
Just want to add - the last time Buddy had a checkup, he still had the small tumors on his thyroid but they had not grown since I changed his diet about 4 1/2 years ago. All his blood levels are normal each time he's checked. He's lost some teeth and no longer eats dry kibbles. For a few years now I've been feeding him a mixture of raw ground chicken, raw ground turkey, raw chicken livers, and bone meal, all of which I get from a local farm store, all organic. I mix in a little psillium fiber for his constipation. I freeze the mixture in small portions and defrost a day's worth of it at a time. So he gets a can of Hills YD one day and the raw meat mixture the next, alternately. You'd never know by looking at him that he's 18 years old. Though he's not as active as he was as a kitten, and he can't jump anymore (pulls himself up onto the bed or sofa with his front paws - arthritis?), he does run and play some, and his fur is soft and shiny. I'm convinced that the iodine supplements in commercial cat foods (as potassium iodide, calcium iodate, and kelp) were the cause of the problem in the first place by overstimulating his thyroid all those years. If the pet food manufacturers would stop adding iodine supplements to cat food, I expect the epidemic of hyperthyroidism in cats would come to a halt.
 

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My Buddy is now 18 and his blood tests show ALL normal levels - everyhing! The vet says he's in amazingly good health for his age. He looks great, and though he's not very frisky, you'd never know he's a senior cat. This is after being diagnosed 5 years ago with hyperthyroid disease, heart arrythmia, and "apparent" kidney disease. He's lost some of his teeth now and doesn't eat dry cat food at all. For the last few years I've been feeding him the Hill's Y/D canned food, alternating with raw meat. For the raw meat, I buy ground chicken, ground turkey, and raw chicken livers (I chop the livers lightly in the blender), plus some bone meal, from a local farm store that sells only organic meats, and I mix all that together with a dash of psillium fiber (because the raw meat has no fiber and makes him constipated). I freeze small portions of the meat mixture and thaw them as needed. So one day he gets Hills YD and the next day raw meat. He's a little overweight, but he looks so much better than he did when he was hyperthyroid and emaciated. I am convinced the standard cat foods he ate prior to the diagnosis are what caused the hyperthyroid condition, because they all contain supplemental iodine - too much iodine, which overstimulates the thyroid gland and eventually causes the tumors on the thyroid gland and hyperthyroid disease. I love him like crazy and I'm so glad I still have him with me and healthy! View attachment 387724
Thank you for posting this. Very helpful
 

jennyr

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Brilliant info. I can see a possible way forward. I was worried about fibre content particularly with a meat diet, and did not think about psyllium. I will discuss it with my vet. Thanks all.
 

comp625

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Just want to add - the last time Buddy had a checkup, he still had the small tumors on his thyroid but they had not grown since I changed his diet about 4 1/2 years ago. All his blood levels are normal each time he's checked. He's lost some teeth and no longer eats dry kibbles. For a few years now I've been feeding him a mixture of raw ground chicken, raw ground turkey, raw chicken livers, and bone meal, all of which I get from a local farm store, all organic. I mix in a little psillium fiber for his constipation. I freeze the mixture in small portions and defrost a day's worth of it at a time. So he gets a can of Hills YD one day and the raw meat mixture the next, alternately. You'd never know by looking at him that he's 18 years old. Though he's not as active as he was as a kitten, and he can't jump anymore (pulls himself up onto the bed or sofa with his front paws - arthritis?), he does run and play some, and his fur is soft and shiny. I'm convinced that the iodine supplements in commercial cat foods (as potassium iodide, calcium iodate, and kelp) were the cause of the problem in the first place by overstimulating his thyroid all those years. If the pet food manufacturers would stop adding iodine supplements to cat food, I expect the epidemic of hyperthyroidism in cats would come to a halt.
That's awesome news! If you don't mind me asking, isn't there naturally occurring sodium / iodine in the raw foods? If so, wouldn't it negate the effects of the Y/D food? Perhaps just reducing Iodine in general, as you pointed out, is the answer for Buddy and other hyperthyroid cats.

My Leia (just turned 6 years old, and in April & May 2021, she was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism, Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (Heart Disease) and mid-Stage 2 Kidney Disease. The Kidney Disease has slowed down and the Heart has slightly improved since we controlled her thyroid hormone activity via the Methimazole drug.

Unfortunately, Leia's Absolute Neutrophils count has been steadily declining every time we do her bloodwork. She has no infections, tested negative for FeLV, is Distemper vaccinated, and is still very active and normal behaving. You wouldn't know she has multiple illnesses. The Vet believes Methimazole is causing the drop, so she's at a point where the Vet is encouraging us to switch to the Y/D food completely.
 

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It has been very helpful to get your replies and I can update on Ellie. After several months on Hills thyroid care she is much better, though we have had a few ups and downs when she would not eat wet food then would not eat dry, and then the supply of wet tinned food disappeared due to delivery chain problems and I was at a loss what to giver her. For a couple of weeks it was boiled chicken with supplements . In the meantime she got much worse affected with arthritis, so that needed treatment too.
But I am glad to say all that is now solved and, cshe is responding well to the diet of mixed wet and dry thyroid care and has gained 300 gms in weight though still under 4kgqs.Her fur is thicker and glossy and her eyes are bright. She prefers to spend most of her time on my bed, but does come downstairs sometimes and can also jump in three stages on to the windowsill to watch the birds. She had her 17th birthday this year so is not doing badly. At night she tucks into my side and loudly demands cuddles and scritches. I am just very glad she still has a quality of life when I was afraid it might be all over for her.
 

Lam975

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Just want to add - the last time Buddy had a checkup, he still had the small tumors on his thyroid but they had not grown since I changed his diet about 4 1/2 years ago. All his blood levels are normal each time he's checked. He's lost some teeth and no longer eats dry kibbles. For a few years now I've been feeding him a mixture of raw ground chicken, raw ground turkey, raw chicken livers, and bone meal, all of which I get from a local farm store, all organic. I mix in a little psillium fiber for his constipation. I freeze the mixture in small portions and defrost a day's worth of it at a time. So he gets a can of Hills YD one day and the raw meat mixture the next, alternately. You'd never know by looking at him that he's 18 years old. Though he's not as active as he was as a kitten, and he can't jump anymore (pulls himself up onto the bed or sofa with his front paws - arthritis?), he does run and play some, and his fur is soft and shiny. I'm convinced that the iodine supplements in commercial cat foods (as potassium iodide, calcium iodate, and kelp) were the cause of the problem in the first place by overstimulating his thyroid all those years. If the pet food manufacturers would stop adding iodine supplements to cat food, I expect the epidemic of hyperthyroidism in cats would come to a halt.
Just curious. Do you buy the unsalted organic bone broth or do you make it? Everything I've seen in the store, even though it says no added salt, still has sodium listed. I have the dry and wet y/d for my cat. But I love your idea of one day on and one day off with the raw meat and broth. Also, i can't find bone meal? Any ideas where i can find organic bone meal? Not many farm stores around me. Whole foods maybe? Thanks for any help. I'm so worried about my baby.
 

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Sodium is not the problem. It's the iodine that is added to most salts. You can actually find salt without iodine in the grocery store, but that's not your problem. Wet foods with fish or seafood in them will have iodine, too. My Mingo is allergic to fish and seafood, so I only feed him beef, chicken, and turkey. That food may have a little iodine in it, but not like fish. I don't think those varieties have any or only a little fish in them. Mingo would throw them up if they did. A year or so ago during Covid, we had a problem with Fancy Feast, and there was an alert posted on TCS about how some of it was made in France and contained fish. Some time later, I opened a can of "chicken" that smelled very fishy. Mingo threw it up with his last swallow. So you may be fine just not feeding fish or seafood.
 

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Hi from Sweden! So Happy to have found this page. I need alternatives (variation) if the LOVE of my life (Bubbas) doesnt eat the y/d. He loves the dry food tho. I WANT to go strictly y/d but I need options. And I am also thinking about the musclemass loss due to the low protein, the sickness itself and the age factor. This was an eyeopener and I will investigate further.

I have spent weeks googling this and everything I read is about y/d only or medication. I dont think that is an option for everybody in the long run.

Thanks again.
 

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Hi B Bubbas Juniors mom ! I am not sure the difference between Sweden and the US in terms of varying Y/D formulas - most here are prescription. And it seems a lot of cats either don't like the Y/D foods or stop liking them pretty quickly. Feeby (18+ yo) would not eat any of them, so she is on Felimazole (a form of methimazole) for her hyper-T. She has been on this med for about two years now and in terms of her hyper-T she is doing pretty good (she has other health issues).

Any particular reason you don't want to try the meds? They enable you to feed Bubbas whatever he will eat, including higher protein foods. Feeby is not a pill taker, but she will accept this med crushed up into a bite of her food or in a lickable treat. There is also a transdermal form that you could rub into Bubba's ear, rather than have him take a pill.

Also, has your vet discussed the radioiodine treatment? That is actually a 'cure' for hyper-T. There are a few steps/preparations to get to the point of having Bubbas eligible for it, but it might be another thing for you to look into.
Radioactive Iodine Treatment (I-131) For Cats - Cat-World
 
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