Medical Management and Monitoring of the Hyperthyroid Cat: A Survey of UK General Practitioners

Higgs P., Murray J.K. and Hibbert A.

J Feline Med Surg, 2014. 


Feline hyperthyroidism is commonly diagnosed in general practice. This study assessed the opinions and experiences of UK general practitioners (GPs) regarding the management of feline hyperthyroidism. This included an evaluation of preferred treatment modalities and the monitoring of medically treated cats in relation to thyroxine (T4) level, co-morbid disease and adverse drug reactions. Six hundred and three GPs completed an online questionnaire comprising 34 questions. Oral medication was the most commonly preferred treatment option (65.7% of respondents), followed by thyroidectomy (27.5%) and then radioiodine (5.5%). When cost of treatment was eliminated as a consideration factor, significantly more respondents selected radioiodine (40.5%, P <0.001). Concerning target total T4 levels during medical management, 48.4% aimed for the lower half of the reference interval (RI), 32.3% anywhere within RI, 13.1% within the top half of RI and 0.5% above the RI; 3.4% evaluated efficacy by physical assessment only. In the presence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) respondents were significantly more likely to target total T4 levels within the upper half of the RI (40.3%) or above it (9.8%) when compared with targets for routine cases (P <0.001). Assessment for unmasking of CKD after initiating treatment or for hypertension was not consistently performed. Variability in monitoring strategies may result in CKD and hypertension remaining undetected, inadequate suppression of T4 levels in cats with concurrent CKD and delayed recognition of potentially significant haematological abnormalities.