• Open Access

Methimazole Treatment of 262 Cats With Hyperthyroidism

Authors

  • Mark E. Peterson DVM,

    1. Departments of Medicine, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York
    2. Research Animal Resource Center, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York
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      DVM, The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10021

  • Peter P. Kintzer DVM,

    1. Departments of Medicine, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York
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      Department of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, Massachusetts

  • Arthur I. Hurvitz DVM, PhD

    1. Departments of Pathology, The Animal Medical Center, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York
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Abstract

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 < 0.001) from a pretreatment value of 12.1 μg/dl to 2.1 Mg/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. These immunologic reactions were not associated with evidence of immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or lupus-like syndrome in any of the cats. The results of this study indicate that methimazole is effective in blocking excess thyroid hormone secretion in cats with hyperthyroidism. In addition, although not entirely free of adverse side effects, methimazole is a relatively safe antithyroid drug for use in the cat.

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