Evaluation of Body Weight, Body Condition, and Muscle Condition in Cats with Hyperthyroidism

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Peterson M.E., Castellano C.A. and Rishniw M.

J Vet Intern Med, 2016. 30(6): p.1780-1789.


BACKGROUND: The contribution of fat loss versus muscle wasting to the loss of body weight seen in hyperthyroid cats is unknown. OBJECTIVES: To investigate body weight, body condition score (BCS), and muscle condition score (MCS) in hyperthyroid cats. ANIMALS: Four hundred sixty-two cats with untreated hyperthyroidism, 117 of which were reevaluated after treatment. METHODS: Prospective cross-sectional and before-after studies. Untreated hyperthyroid cats had body composition evaluated (body weight, BCS, and MCS). A subset of these cats were reevaluated 3-12 months after treatment when euthyroid. RESULTS: Pretreatment body weight (median, 4.36 kg; IQR, 3.5 to 5.2 kg) was lower than premorbid weight (5.45 kg; IQR, 4.6 to 6.4 kg, P < .0001) recorded 1-2 years before diagnosis. 154 (35.3%) cats were thin or emaciated; 357 (77.3%) had loss of muscle mass. Cats showed increases in body weight (median, 4.1 kg to 5.0 kg), BCS (median, 3/5 to 3.5/5), and MCS (2/3 to 3/3) after treatment (P < .001), but mild-to-moderate muscle wasting persisted in 45% of treated cats. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Most hyperthyroid cats lose body weight but maintain an ideal or overweight BCS, with only a third being underweight. As in human hyperthyroid patients, this weight loss is associated with muscle wasting, which affects >75% of hyperthyroid cats. Successful treatment leads to weight gain and increase of BCS in most cats, but almost half fail to regain normal muscle mass.