Evaluation of Environmental, Nutritional, and Host Factors in Cats with Hyperthyroidism

Kass P.H., Peterson M.E., Levy J., et al.

J Vet Intern Med, 1999. 13(4): p.323-9.


The pathologic changes associated with hyperthyroidism (adenomatous hyperplasia, adenoma of the thyroid gland) have been well characterized in cats, but the pathogenesis of these changes remains unclear. In this research, we undertook a case-control study to search for potential risk factors for this disease. Owners of 379 hyperthyroid and 351 control cats were questioned about their cats’ exposure to potential risk factors including breed, demographic factors, medical history, indoor environment, chemicals applied to the cat and environment, and diet. The association between these hypothesized risk factors and outcome of disease was evaluated by conditional logistic regression. Two genetically related cat breeds (ie, Siamese and Himalayan) were found to have diminished risk of developing hyperthyroidism. Cats that used litter had higher risk of developing hyperthyroidism than those that did not. Use of topical ectoparasite preparations was associated with increased risk of developing hyperthyroidism. Compared with cats that did not eat canned food, those that ate commercially prepared canned food had an approximate 2-fold increase in risk of disease. When these 4 variables (breed, use of cat litter, consumption of canned cat food, and use of topical ectoparasite preparations) from the univariate analysis were selected for further study as candidate risk factors and analyzed by multivariate conditional logistic regression, a persistent protective effect of breed (ie, Siamese or Himalayan) was found. In addition, results suggested a 2- to 3-fold increase in risk of developing hyperthyroidism among cats eating a diet composed mostly of canned cat food and a 3-fold increase in risk among those using cat litter. In contrast, the use of commercial flea products did not retain a strong association. The results of this study indicate that further research into dietary and other potentially important environmental factors (eg, cat litter) is warranted.