Dogs may be man’s best friend, but cats — aloof or independent, depending on who you ask — have amassed an equally loyal following. While dogs require room to run, cats can be refreshingly low-maintenance. A litterbox, dry food, and a comfy sofa — ideally one that stands up to scratching — are basically all a house cat needs to thrive.
Unfortunately, a modern cat’s primary habitat — your furniture — could be opening the door to health issues, in particular hyperthyroidism, which now affects around 10 percent of senior felines.
Symptoms include hyperactivity, increased shedding, and growing irritability. Owners will notice affected cats running frequently for the litterbox and, despite constant thirst and hunger, significant weight loss over short periods of time.
For years, doctors struggled to pinpoint the origins of feline hyperthyroidism, which mysteriously started trending in 1979. Now a new study points the finger at household flame retardants, which are frequently folded into carpets, couches, and even common electronics. Not only did the study clearly link these chemicals with endocrine disorder, cats’ famed hygiene further exacerbates the issue as animals groom themselves and ingest even more particulate dust.
The good news is that, though the bills can add up, hyperthyroidism in cats is easily managed. A simple blood test can generally determine elevated thyroid levels, upon which you and your vet can discuss a treatment plan. If your pet does in fact suffer from hyperthyroidism, a number of treatment options are available. Radiation, daily medication, and surgery are three primary methods; in some cases, dietary therapy can also be considered.
Regardless, a toxin-free household is essential to keeping healthy and happy pets, regardless of where they fall along the canine-feline divide. Select carpets, furnishings, appliances, cleaning products, and even houseplants with care to avoid unseen problems for your furry family members.
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