Methimazole Treatment of 262 Cats with Hyperthyroidism

Peterson M.E., Kintzer P.P. and Hurvitz A.I.

J Vet Intern Med, 1988. 2(3): p.150-7.


The efficacy and safety of the antithyroid drug methimazole were evaluated over a 3-year period in 262 cats with hyperthyroidism. In 181 of the cats, methimazole was administered for 7 to 130 days (mean, 27.7 days) as a preoperative preparation for thyroidectomy. The remaining 81 cats were given methimazole for 30 to 1,000 days (mean, 228 days) as sole treatment for the hyperthyroid state. After 2 to 3 weeks of methimazole therapy (10 to 15 mg/d), the mean serum thyroxine (T4) concentration decreased significantly (P less than 0.001) from a pretreatment value of 12.1 micrograms/dl to 2.1 micrograms/dl. The final maintenance dose needed to maintain euthyroidism in the 81 cats that were given methimazole as sole treatment for hyperthyroidism ranged from 2.5 to 20 mg/d (mean, 11.9 mg/d). Clinical side effects developed in 48 (18.3%) cats (usually within the first month of therapy), which included anorexia, vomiting, lethargy, self-induced excoriation of the face and neck, bleeding diathesis, and icterus caused by hepatopathy. Mild hematologic abnormalities developed in 43 (16.4%) cats (usually within the first 2 months of treatment), which included eosinophilia, lymphocytosis, and slight leukopenia. In ten (3.8%) cats, more serious hematologic reactions developed including agranulocytosis and thrombocytopenia (associated with bleeding). These hematologic abnormalities resolved within 1 week after cessation of methimazole treatment. Immunologic abnormalities associated with methimazole treatment included the development of antinuclear antibodies in 52 of 238 (21.8%) cats tested and red cell autoantibodies (as evidenced by positive direct antiglobulin tests) in three of 160 (1.9%) cats tested.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)