Cats & Cushings Disease

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Cushing's disease is much more prevalent in dogs than cats.

    Cushing's disease is much more prevalent in dogs than cats.

    If you've been noticing that your precious pet recently has been exhibiting unusual symptoms, such as particularly delicate skin and increased appetite, don't rule out the possibility of Cushing's disease. The rare endocrine condition, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is a result of the presence of especially high cortisol levels.

    What is Cushing's Disease?

    Cushing's disease is a medical condition that is characterized by an overload of cortisol expelled by the adrenal glands. The disorder is relatively uncommon in felines. Though a certain amount of the hormone cortisol is vital and healthy, too much of it can lead to potentially harmful results.

    Common Symptoms

    If you are worried that something just isn't right with your little one, keep your eyes open for the more common signs of the disease. When your cat's body is producing too much cortisol, you may notice symptoms, like increased thirst, appetite boosts, frequent urination, protruding abdominal region, loss of some body hair, thin skin, bruises, exhaustion and weakness of the muscles. Upon observing any of these key indications, get your kitty to the veterinarian for diagnostic testing as soon as you can. Blood tests usually are necessary to determine whether a cat has the disease.

    Rare Symptoms

    Although not as common, also take note of other possible Cushing's disease symptoms in felines, including unusually rigid walking mannerisms, labored breathing, panting and overall feelings of weakness. As with the more predominant symptoms, seek veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of them. Never wait until your cat's symptoms get worse or more pronounced -- that's just playing with fire.

    Causes

    According to the Feline Advisory Bureau, extended use of corticosteroid medications ultimately can trigger Cushing's disease in cats. These drugs closely emulate cortisol in nature, and are used frequently for minimizing inflammatory reactions within the body, whether as a result of arthritis or even infection. If your cat has a long history of corticosteroid use for any medical reason, she may be more vulnerable to Cushing's disease compared to others.
    Adrenal tumors also can bring about Cushing's disease. These tumors also cause raised cortisol levels in cats. The notable symptoms of adrenal tumors are very similar to those of Cushing's disease in general.

    Treatment

    With kitties, Cushing's disease generally is treated via a surgery known as an "adrenalectomy." The complex procedure involves the extraction of the adrenal glands. Post-surgery, cats generally require lifetime hormone replacement therapy. The path to getting better may be a tough one for you and your fluff ball, but certainly is a worthwhile journey.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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