Tuesday, 01/24/2023

Cushing’s disease is a condition that affects the adrenal glands. The glands are located just above the kidneys and produce cortisol, a hormone that helps the body cope with stress. When the adrenal glands produce excess cortisol, it can lead to several health problems in cats, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and skin problems.

There is a cure for Cushing’s illness. Most of the time, treatment is in the form of drugs that lessen the adrenal glands’ cortisol. In other circumstances, surgery is another choice.

If you think your cat may have Cushing’s disease, it’s essential to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve your cat’s quality of life and prevent serious health problems.

Cushing’s Disease: What Is It?

Your cat’s adrenal glands are affected by Cushing’s illness. Your cat’s adrenal glands will overproduce the stress hormone cortisol if this problem develops in him. Although cortisol is essential for good health, too much of it can cause significant sickness and even death.

The endocrine system of your cat is just as intricate as any humans. Your cat is healthy and content when it’s operating correctly. Negative symptoms, on the other hand, might sometimes result from endocrine system disorders that impact your cat. Such a disorder is called Cushing’s disease; however, it seldom affects cats.

Symptoms of Cat Cushing’s Disease

The early signs of Cushing’s disease in cats might be challenging to identify because the condition’s symptoms are frequently inconspicuous. Additionally, cats may conceal more than usual or mask their symptoms when ill. This makes it more challenging to diagnose any illness in cats.

Fragile skin is one of the most prominent symptoms of Cushing’s illness in cats. The skin of your cat might easily bruise or split apart. Patchy hair loss may also be present. Additional signs include:

  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Potbelly appearance
  • The tips of the ears are curled


We created the infographic representing Symptoms of Cat Cushing’s Disease to provide a clear idea.

Cat Cushing’s Disease – Symptoms

#1. Increased Thirst and Urination 
Excessive thirst and urination is  glaring symptom
Some signs of excessive eating due to increased appetite.
#2. Gaining Weight
Weight gain, especially in the face, neck, and abdomen.
Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) is another sign of the disease.
#3. Fatigue and Muscle Weakness
 Extreme fatigue is a symptom.
Muscle weakness as energy is not used efficiently by the body
#4. Skin Changes
Thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and easy bruising can occur.
Symmetrical hair loss and unkempt appearance are other common signs. 
#5. Mood Changes and Lethargy 
Mood swings, depression, and anxiety are caused by cushing’s.
Lethargy and changes in sexual behavior also happen.
#6. Vomiting and Diarrhea
Cats with Cushing’s have vomiting and diarrhea.
Enlargement of the abdomen can happen in the suffering feline.

What Causes Cat Cushing Disease?

Cushing’s disease in cats has consistent symptoms regardless of the underlying cause. This crippling illness can harm cats in three different ways. Each of the circumstances that can result in this disorder is described as follows:

1. Pituitary Gland Tumor

This is the most common trigger of Cushing’s disease in cats. This tumor causes the gland to overproduce the stress hormone cortisol, benign or malignant. Cats often do not have malignant pituitary gland tumors, but they still need to be managed to control hormone production.

2. Latrogenic

Latrogenic Cushing’s disease is the term used to describe Cushing’s disease that develops in your cat due to excessive amounts of steroid medication. Steroid treatments for your cat, such as prednisolone, dexamethasone, or prednisone, may result in this. The form of this medication—tablet, liquid, or injection—is irrelevant. Using excessive steroids in your cat can have catastrophic, even fatal, effects, even though they have some practical purposes.

3. Adrenal gland tumor

Cushing’s disease can also develop in cats with adrenal gland tumors. This tumor could either be benign or cancerous. Some cats do well if the tumor is benign and surgically removed with success. Malignant tumors may also be removed via surgery, although the prognosis mostly depends on whether the cancer has progressed to vital organs or other body sections.

A Closer Look Into Feline Cushing’s Disease: 2 Common Varieties

Most canine Cushing’s disease is caused by a pituitary- or adrenal-dependent condition that develops naturally. A tumor on the pituitary, a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, generates about 80–85 percent of Cushing’s disease.

Adrenocorticotropic hormone is one of many hormones produced by the pituitary (ACTH). The adrenal glands are stimulated by the excess ACTH produced by the pituitary tumor to create more cortisol than the body requires. This extra cortisol is then transported through the bloodstream to the pituitary gland.

The remaining 15–20% of Cushing’s dogs have an adrenal gland tumor, which results in the overproduction of cortisol in one or both adrenal glands.

The recommended course of treatment may depend on the type of Cushing’s illness. The remaining 15–20% of Cushing’s dogs experience excessive cortisol production due to tumors in one or both adrenal glands. The kind of Cushing’s illness may influence the recommended course of treatment.

Veterinarians use blood tests to identify Cushing’s illness and distinguish it from adrenal or pituitary diseases. They might also use ultrasound technology to aid in discovering an adrenal gland tumor.

Comparison Table

Monitor your cat’s blood glucose levels regularly.Don’t feed your cat table scraps or other human foods.
Provide a high-quality, low-carbohydrate diet.Don’t allow your cat to become overweight.
Provide plenty of fresh water.Don’t allow your cat to become dehydrated.
Monitor your cat’s weight and adjust the diet accordingly.Don’t allow your cat to become stressed.
Provide regular exercise and playtime.Don’t give your cat any medications without consulting your veterinarian.

How to Cure Feline Cushing Disease?

The cause of Cushing’s disease in cats affects how it is treated. The doctor must gradually wean your cat off the medication if the condition is brought on by taking too many steroids. Suddenly stopping these medications can result in several health issues. In most situations, this may end Cushing’s disease symptoms, but the primary problem for which your cat was receiving treatment may reappear.

Because of the gland’s location in your cat’s body, adrenal gland tumors might be challenging to remove safely. Your cat might fare better if the tumor is benign and can be safely removed.

Medication like trilostane or Lysodren is frequently used to treat pituitary gland tumors. Although they are not a cure and are regarded as chemotherapy medications, some cats with the ailment may be able to have it managed for a long time.

How Does a Vet Diagnose Cushing’s Disease?

It is crucial that your veterinarian correctly determines the underlying cause of your cat’s Cushing disease. The outcome is dependent on how the problem is treated. You will be asked for a brief medical history regarding the health of your cat by your doctor. They will ask questions about your cat’s history of birth, the time the symptoms started, and the symptoms they are.

Your doctor will examine your cat after getting a medical history. He will look at his attitude, coordination, and level of alertness. Your cat’s temperature, respiration rate, and heart rate will also be assessed and noted. To do laboratory tests, he will also take blood. A CBC or complete blood count, a biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis will all be carried out. Tests to measure your cat’s hormone levels, including cortisol, will be performed if your veterinarian suspects Cushing’s illness.

Diagnostic imaging procedures are commonly utilized to ascertain whether the pituitary or adrenal glands are affected by tumors. An ordinary X-ray can be used, or more in-depth exams like a CT scan or MRI can be requested. An abdominal ultrasound may also be carried out if your doctor suspects a malignant tumor has spread.

How Long Does Cushing’s Disease Normally Last In Cats?

The origin of the ailment and the recommended course of therapy by your veterinarian will determine how well your cat recovers from Cushing’s disease. Due to the rarity of this illness in cats, it is frequently misdiagnosed. Nevertheless, some cats recover and live for many years after being diagnosed.

Overall, the duration of Cushing’s disease in cats is difficult to predict and generally depends on the individual cat and the type of tumor present. In some cases, medical therapy alone is enough to resolve the disorder. However, in more severe or recurring cases, long-term medical therapy may be required. Additionally, it’s important to monitor your cat following initial treatment to make sure that the normalization of hormone levels occurs and that no new symptoms develop.

Post-Operative Advice for Cats

When your cat returns home after surgery for Cushing’s disease or any other condition, you’ll need to give them extra attention to speed up their recovery. You will receive detailed instructions from your veterinarian, which may include the following:

Limit your cat’s activity: Watch out for your cat running, jumping, or stretching on a favorite scratching post, so they don’t rip their stitches or open the incision.

Help them rest: Do what you can to ensure they receive enough sleep while recovering by assisting them with rest. For example, create a warm, inviting space where they may unwind, with food and water nearby.

Periodically check their wound: Look for seeping, swelling, or other infections-related symptoms. If you notice anything that worries you, speak with your veterinarian.

Check their hydration: Cats are known for not drinking nearly enough water, especially when feeling under the weather. Give them constant, simple access to fresh water. You can also give them moist food with a lot of water.

Keep your pets separated for the time being if you have more than one in your home. They could stimulate your cat excessively. Additionally, curious noses may attempt to sniff around their surgical incision and disturb your cat or inflict significant harm.

To Summarize

Cushing’s disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is a condition that affects cats. It is caused by an overproduction of the hormone cortisol in the adrenal glands, which can cause weight gain, inflammation, and several other symptoms.

Cats with Cushing’s disease have a short lifespan and are often treated with steroids to reduce their symptoms. If your cat has hyperadrenocorticism, talk to your vet about what steps you can take to help them through this difficult time.

Disclaimer: The content on the site is for educational purposes only, and it does not provide medical advice. The shared information must not be treated as a substitute for or alternative for medical practitioner advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Regarding any concerns about your pet’s health, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity. Each pet has specific health, fitness & nutrition needs. Do not disregard, avoid or delay pet health-related advice from veterinarians based on reading the information provided on this site.

Related FAQ’s

1. How long may cats with Cushing’s disease survive?

Answer: The survival rate of cats with Cushing’s disease varies depending on the severity of the condition and the cat’s overall health. Cats can sometimes live for several years with proper treatment and management.

2. What are the first three signs of Cushing’s syndrome?

Answer: The first three signs of Cushing’s syndrome

1. Increased appetite and thirst

2. Weight gain

3. Hair loss or thinning of the fur

3. If Cushing’s syndrome is not treated, what happens?

Answer: If Cushing’s syndrome is not treated in cats, the condition can lead to various serious health issues, including an increased risk of infection, diabetes, liver disease, and even death. Long-term complications can include muscle wasting, skin problems, and behavioral changes.



Alex Schechter

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