Posts Tagged ‘hyperthyroidism’

Let’s talk about canned food.  First, if it isn’t already abundantly clear – I think dry cat food is a very bad idea.  I don’t think anyone thinks the semi-moist foods (those little pieces that aren’t hard as kibble, but chewy, like Tender Vittles) are a good idea.  (If you do – well, they’re not for the same reasons dry/kibble is bad and more.)

So, where does that leave us?  Options remaining are a freeze-dried raw food,  a frozen raw food, or a canned food.  (Or, I suppose there’s the options of a freshly made raw food or whole prey or homemade cooked diet – I won’t go there for the time being.)  I realize there are MANY caregivers out there that are reluctant to feed raw for many reasons, and I do not fault them for that!  I think commercial canned food is a perfectly acceptable option!  While the majority of my cats’ diet is a frozen raw food, I do feed canned food to them on occasion and I feed my foster cats canned food.  Why don’t I feed my own cats’ canned food more often?  Well, a few reasons including cost (yes, homemade raw is less expensive), palability (if some of my cats get canned, they start clamouring for it and refusing to eat their raw), and a couple cats that had IBD so long before their diet was changed that even most canned foods cause them stomach upset…. among other reasons.

However, I’ve seen some  people argue against canned food – and I’d like to discuss some of the “reasons” why.

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I’ve been opining on feline hyperthyroidism a LOT in the past 18 months or so.  It all started with Latifah.  Something seemed amiss with her back in January/February 2007, as although her diabetes was well controlled, even went into sporadic remissions, she had a ravenous hunger and her fur/coat wasn’t as smooth and glossy as I’d expect in a cat on an all-wet diet.  Bloodwork looked pretty good, but I had this nagging feeling – and she just “felt” hyperthyroid, I’d tell the veterinarians.  They’d usually dismiss the idea, saying her T4 values (in her bloodwork) were well within the reference range.

In a conversation with Dr. Hogkins, I noted my misgivings and I got quite the education.  T4 values in an older cat (over age ten) should not *just* be in the reference range, but in the lower half to third of the reference range and decreasing over time.  Other ailments, such as CRF (kidney disease), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), etc. deflate T4 values as well as age. 

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Latifah, aka Tifah, aka Teefie, aka Teefah da Teethless… a sweet sad little princess who wishes she had a home she didn’t have to share with other cats, and who’s life-long ambition is to hold the world record for most diseases/ailments in a single cat.


Latifah was found wandering the streets and admitted to the shelter in June of 2005 by a kind person who realized she needed help.  She was in bad shape, down on her hocks (neuropathy), matted, and thin – and was quickly diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.  She had obviously been someone’s cat as she was declawed, and most likely was thrown out when she became ill.  Maybe the former owner didn’t know she was ill, only knew she was urinating excessively (and perhaps out of the litter box), or maybe they just didn’t care.

I originally agreed to foster Latifah for a cat shelter, in an effort to better regulate her diabetes with a diet change to all all canned food (from canned and dry).  She wasn’t on a large dose of insulin at the shelter, 2 to 3 units twice daily, but she’d had episodes of hypoglycemia (insulin shock) a few times.  In looking back at her records, the cause became rather apparent to me.  Latifah loves canned food.  She’ll eat dry if canned isn’t available.  During the day, caretakers provided her canned food three to five times daily.  During the night, there was only dry food.  Her “hypo” episodes occurred during the day.  She was eating significantly lower-carbohydrate food (canned) during the day, but getting the same insulin dose.  This dose was too much on the lower-carbohydrate diet.  This was compounded by the fact the dry food she ate at night effectively put the liver “to sleep” so it wasn’t prepared to release glycogen to save her from these “hypos”. 

I fostered Latifah from March 17, 2006 to October 20, 2006.  Her blood sugar levels quickly decreased and grew more steady on the canned diet.  She went off insulin completely for weeks at a time.  Unfortunately, when her other medical conditions (stomatitis, arthritis, gastro-intestinal issues, pancreatitis, etc.) flared up, so would her blood glucose levels and she’s need some insulin to bring them down.

Latifah in tent

I grew so enamoured with her, I adopted her on October 21, 2006.  Besides the diabetes, Latifah has pancreatitis, stomatitis, a heart murmur, and an intestinal disorder. However, she does very well on a proper diet – primarily homemade raw food based on the recipes at CatInfo.org and CatNutrition.org. She does well on Dr. Hodgkins’ treatment protocol for feline diabetes.

Latifah showed symptoms of hyper-thyroidism (ravenous hunger, thin, poor coat), so in early 2007 I took her to a specialty center for a technitium (or scintigraphic) scan. The scan confirmed the hyper-thyroidism, although her T4 blood levels were normal. She had radioactive iodine treatment and the hyper-thyroidism resolved quickly.

Her stomatitis (mouth inflammation) was a huge source of pain for her.  The shelter veterinarian extracted all her teeth in September of 2006.  Still, sometimes the inflammation was so bad she struggled to eat.  We finally found a protocol that keeps her comfortable, using Metacam (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) and cyclosporine, as well as the supplements lactoferrin and agaricus blazei.  The drugs have risks, but I feel they are with it as they improve her quality of life significantly.

Latifah thinks of the kitchen as “her” room, but most days she’ll let the other cats come in for their meals. 

Latifah on cat tree

 Update:  Sadly, I lost Latifah on February 16, 2008 to something neurological.  Fly free, my sweet princess.

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