Acromegaly is a relatively rare disorder due to overproduction of hormones in the brain or breast tissue. It’s more commonly reported in cats than in dogs. Affected cats can develop subtle changes in appearance, but since the disease progresses over a long period of time, owners may not find any issues. Some cats get really hungry or start drinking, and they need to use the litter tray more often. It is also the vet who detects a difference in the appearance of a cat when cats are presented due to changes in appetite or increased drinking and may suggest further investigation. It is crucial to get a diagnosis as soon as possible if treatment is to be successful. It is much less common in dogs than in cats.
Causes Of Acromegaly
The disorder is caused by a benign tumor in the pituitary gland that secretes excess growth hormone levels. The abnormally elevated circulating growth hormone levels have effects in the body. Physically, cats develop a wide face, big feet, increased body mass, and sometimes their lower jaw protrudes beyond their upper jaw, having their lower teeth line up in front of their upper teeth. Remember that these are changes that occur in an adult cat, not characteristics that become apparent when a kitten matures. Acromegaly most often affects middle-aged and elderly, neutered, male cats.
Recommended: measure blood sugar levels of diabetic dogs and cats
Symptoms of Acromegaly
Acromegalic cats are generally shown for symptoms of unregulated feline diabetes. If a cat has previously been diagnosed with diabetes, the owner may note an increase in water and appetite, which may also be followed by weight gain or loss (weight gain is more common than weight loss and may be dramatic). Intelligent owners may observe physical changes related to acromegaly, including:
- The widening of the face
- Protrusion of the mandible (lower jaw)
- Increased distance between teeth as the lower jaw widens and pushes the teeth farther apart.
- Change in foot size
- A dull coat of hair
- Snoring (even when awake) caused by the development of soft palate and tissue around the larynx.
Diagnoses Of Acromegaly
Definitive diagnosis of acromegaly involves sophisticated brain imaging techniques such as CT or MRI. This imaging is done under anesthesia, at a veterinary specialist hospital.
Treatment Of Acromegaly
Unfortunately, there is currently no effective cure for acromegaly cats, as the removal of pituitary tumors is not yet feasible.
Cats with acromegaly are at risk of developing cardiomyopathy due to an enlarged heart, kidney disease due to an enlarged kidney, and overtime, a growing pituitary tumor can cause neurological signs. Cats with acromegaly would often either become euthanized or die from heart failure, renal disease, neurological disease, or uncontrolled diabetes.