Feline Cushings Disease
"Feline Cushings Disease is caused by a tumor on the adrenal or pituitary glands. The preferred method of treatment is surgery. Natural dietary supplements may help in some cases."
Feline Cushings disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is a rare disorder in cats. When it does occur, it is usually seen in middle-aged or older cats, and is more common in females than in males.
Cushing's disease is caused by a tumor of either the pituitary or adrenal glands, causing the production of excess cortisol. Cortisol is a naturally-occurring chemical in the body, which helps the body respond to stress such as infection or pain. With Cushing's disease, however, the body continues producing cortisol even when the stressor has been removed. This causes a number of problems.
Feline Cushing's Disease SymptomsSymptoms of feline Cushing's disease include:
* Increased water drinking
* Increased urination
* Increased appetite
* Weight gain or loss
* Bloated or "pot-bellied" appearance
* Excessive panting
* Thinning hair or baldness
* Dull, dry coat
* Thin skin that is easily bruised or torn
Diagnosis of Feline Cushings Disease
Most cats with Cushings disease are insulin resistant diabetics, meaning that they respond poorly to insulin. This, along with other symptoms, suggests a diagnosis of Cushing's disease.
Your vet will want to do a number of tests to aid in making a diagnosis, including blood tests, a urinalysis, x-rays of the chest and abdomen, an ultrasound of the abdomen, and perhaps a CT scan or MRI of the abdomen.
Treatment of Feline Cushings Disease
While medication is often the preferred treatment for dogs, cats do not respond as well to medication. There is one drug, metyrapone, which is sometimes effective.
Surgery is the preferred method of treatment for cats. When the tumor is on the pituitary gland, it causes bilateral adrenal enlargement, and the preferred surgical treatment is removal of both adrenal glands. When the tumor is on one adrenal gland, that gland should be removed. These are difficult surgeries, and patients may need to be referred to a specialty hospital or teaching center such as a university for care.
After removal of both adrenal glands, your cat will require medication (hormone replacement therapy) for the rest of her life. If she is diabetic, her insulin needs may change, so monitor her closely. As she recovers, her insulin needs will probably decrease. In fact, some cats are no longer diabetic after the surgery.
The recovery process is difficult. Only 50% of cats survive more than six months after the surgery, and many owners opt against the surgery, especially for older cats. Instead, they choose to provide supportive care for their pets and let the illness take its course.
Natural Medicine and Feline Cushing's Disease
The adrenal glands and their proper functioning affects the systemic functioning of your cat's entire body. Since natural remedies are created to impact the normal functioning of the body, they have a history of having a positive impact on cats with Cushing's Disease. Ingredients such as dandelion and burdock have properties that are associated with helping the function of adrenal glands. A supplement worth exploring and discussing with your veterinarian is Cushex which is made specifically for Cushing's disease.
Neiger, Reto DMVM