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Foozle had always been the ideal cat. He rarely made any noise, loved endless cuddles, and had never scratched a piece of furniture in his life (unlike his brothers who could take out the arm of a couch on their way to dinner.)
However, over the last week, he’d been waking me in the night—to play. There were two other lively cats in the house, and the three usually kept each other entertained. Now, Foozle had singled himself out and wanted all the attention, which would have been fine, if it hadn’t been the middle of the night.
He romped and rolled and batted at toys, but all the while, something seemed…different. Yet, he was happy. I wondered what all they had stuffed that new cat toy with, and finally, in desperate need for a few uninterrupted hours, I tossed the toy on a shelf of a built-in bookcase.
Foozle would have to amuse himself with the other cats that night.
Nope. Foozle, the cat who had never used his claws on the tempting back of a dining room chair, who had never made a peep for the first five years of his life, who had more in common with a teddy bear than the other household cats, climbed the bookcase, straight up the front, and retrieved the toy.
I would expect that behavior from his far more opinionated brothers, but my Foozle? Never.
During the day, I kept an eye on his behavior. He ate more than his brothers. He played harder than them despite being significantly older. He seemed to have found a whole new lease on life in his old age.
I wasn’t sure what to do. How do you take a cat to the vet because they seem…too happy?
One day, shortly after, I picked him up and my heart skipped a beat. Foozle had always been a thin, delicate little cat, but he seemed…lighter. I raised his standing vet appointment to have an earlier checkup, though he seemed to be perfectly content. He had a grooming appointment to shave him for the summer as his long fluffy coat was looking ratty; he’d never been much on self-care, though. When the groomer returned him, I was shocked—he was so thin.
Like everyone does, I took to Google. A little searching uncovered that his symptoms aligned with hyperthyroidism. Still, I’d been around enough animals to know that once the symptoms of a disease became apparent, managing it might be too late.
Before the vet appointment, I said my sad farewell to the little cat that had been with me for over twelve years. He was the last of the ‘original three’ that I had taken with me move after move, job after job, life change after life change. Seeing him go was sad on its own, but also the end of an era. He was the last connection to so many important parts of my life.
However, after an exam and some tests, the vet concluded that while the end was coming—isn’t it always?—it wasn’t that day. She said that with medication, he still had a few more years to live a happy pain free life.
As relieved as I was at that news, I had to do some rough calculations based on what I’d read online. According to some sites, managing this disease in cats cost more than a new car. I loved my cat, but I was concerned we were in for a rough time.
None of that turned out to be true. The tests were simple and affordable—and I didn’t even have to shop around, though I could have probably gotten them even less expensive somewhere else. And his meds? Less than $200 a year, and that’s with the more expensive liquid (which I switched to, after discovering a stash of tiny pink thyroid pills under my pillow).
In fact, the vet care for hyperthyroidism is simple. While your vet can guide you through the tests and medication, I have discovered five more ways that, in conjunction with proper vet care and medication, has made life much easier and happier for both Foozle and me.
In the early stages of managing his disease, Foozle became extremely thirsty—and fickle about his water source. The usual dishes did not make him happy. I have an entire post about the plight of his water dish here, but I’ve added below three options you can try to help curb obsessive faucet behavior or simply to encourage hydration, which can be difficult with cats but vital for their health.
Foozle has a long fluffy coat, but he rarely grooms himself. One of the previous housecats groomed him most of his life, and when that cat passed on, I tried to take over brushing Foozle. I’d assumed I’d fallen down on the job when his coat became ratty and needed shaved, but that was another sign of hyperthyroidism. His coat definitely looks nicer again since he started his medication, but he still doesn’t care much for grooming himself. To help keep his coat under control, I have a professional groomer give him an adorable lion cut, right before summer.
I also use a brush, wipes, and no rinse shampoo to freshen him up as needed.
Wet food and snacks
As I mentioned earlier, hydration can be tricky in cats, but it’s important to make sure they get plenty of moisture. Besides the fountain dishes, as I shared above, you can also sneak in more hydration through wet food and snacks. Foozle loves his can of food every day and will stare at me, nearly unblinking, if it’s time for the can to come out. He has dry food to free feed, but this routine has become his favorite.
There are also wet snacks such as these lickable treats from Nulo.
Foozle did not grow up around dogs, but he was introduced to them as an adult. He made his peace, though he was never as fond of them as the other cat Grue, who seems to believe he’s part of the pack.
However, when Foozle came down with hyperthyroidism, he was even less interested in being around their rambunctious behavior. So I sat up “Foozle’s room,” where his bed, dishes, toys, and cat box are all tucked far away from anywhere the dogs can reach. While he does occasionally sit up high and observe them, he is mostly spending his senior years happily on his bed or sitting in the windowsill of his room.
One of the most vital parts of caring for a cat with hyperthyroidism is getting the medication in them as prescribed. For Foozle, that’s twice a day, every day. I have two alarms set, one for the morning and one for the late afternoon, so that I won’t forget or miss a dose. I have, and the symptoms return almost immediately. I can’t stress enough how important getting into a good routine is for the success of managing hyperthyroidism. For me, I like to use Alexa products, such as the Echo Show, to set reminders.