Cushing Disease in Cats; Cushing’s syndrome is a condition that occurs when your adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone necessary for survival, but high levels of it lead to unhealthy life. This disease can be caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland or on the outside layer of the adrenal gland. The cause of this disease can vary by the person affected.

Cushing Disease in Cats occurs in cats. It is caused by overproduction of the hormone cortisol, which results in serious illness and even death if not treated. Cushing’s disease in cats is caused by a number of factors. Stress and overfeeding can lead to the disease, and some breeds are more susceptible than others. Your veterinarian can perform an endocrinology test to diagnose Cushing’s disease in your cat.

cushing disease in cat

Cushing disease, also known as feline interdigital cysts or digital cushions, affects the paws of cats. Although it is not common in cats, it does affect middle-aged and older cats and females more than males. It does not seem to be a determining factor to affect a specific breed.

Symptoms of Cushing Disease

Symptoms of diabetes in cats can be similar to those of other diseases. It is important that your cat receives an accurate diagnosis from a veterinarian before you can begin treatment.  Some of the symptoms are:

  •  Weight gain
  •  Changes in sexual behavior
  • Unhealthy look
  • Overeating
  • Excessive urination
  •  Excessive thirst
  •  Excessive eating
  • Distended abdomen
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Thin skin that is easily torn or broken
  • Enlarged liver
  • Pantin

Causes of Cushing Disease in Cat

Although any tumor can develop in the pituitary gland, they are most commonly caused by a benign growth known as a pituitary adenoma. This occurs when stimulated cells in the brain secrete hormones that promote cell growth in this area. The result is an overproduction of hormones which can cause issues with vision, hearing, heart rate, breathing and other vital organs.

causes of cushing disease in cat

  • Tumor of the Adrenal Gland

Cushing disease can also occur in cats that have a tumor of the adrenal gland. This tumor can be benign or cancerous, and are more common among older cats. Some cats recover if the tumors are removed during surgery, but others may not.

  • Tumor in Pituitary Gland

This is the most common cause of Cushing disease in cats, and occurs when a tumor forms on the pituitary gland. Almost all cases of Cushing disease in cats will have a pituitary gland tumor. These tumors may be cancerous or benign, but either way they result in excessive amounts of cortisol being produced. Most tumors are not malignant but must be checked.

  • Medication

When your cat receives steroids, side effects can occur. While these drugs are beneficial in some cases, they can also cause serious and sometimes deadly side effects if the cat receives too much of them. The age will affect the cat too.

Diagnosis of Cushing Disease

Diagnosing Cushing’s disease requires a number of tests. Your doctor may order radiographs and X-rays to examine the condition of the liver, MRIs to observe the pituitary gland, suppression tests and ACTH stimulation tests to determine if you cat has Cushing’s disease. Complete blood count and urinalysis will be performed as well to check the hormone level.

Treatment of Cushing Disease

The treatment of Cushing disease depends on the cause. It is important for your doctor to stop taking steroids if the condition arose due to overuse of medication. Adrenal gland tumors can be difficult to remove because they are located in your cat’s abdomen, but with surgery and medications may kill the tumor cells. Pituitary gland tumors are often treated with medications.

Cat undergoing treatment for cushing disease

Even though cats are generally in good health, they can exhibit signs which suggest that there’s something wrong. Any sign of illness should be taken seriously, as early diagnosis is essential to any recovery. To prevent the disease from happening, it is important to take care of your cat and provide the appropriate care.

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