Hypoadrenocorticism in cats: cause, symptoms and treatment

Hypoadrenocorticism in cats or Addison’s disease is an endocrine disease that affects our furry friend. Let’s see the causes, symptoms and treatment.

Hypoadrenocorticism in cats occurs when the body is unable to produce adequate amounts of certain hormones, including a hormone called cortisol.

As it will now be well known to those who live with a cat, that these are very shy and proud animals, they do not show their health problems very easily, but rather tend to hide them. This attitude is due to the fact that they do not like to be vulnerable by nature. That is why it will be very difficult to identify the disease in cats.

Cause of hypoadrenocorticism in cats

Addison’s disease or hypoadrenocorticism in cats, it must be said that it is much more common in dogs than in cats, but can occasionally occur in kittens. What happens to the cat that turns out to have Addison’s disease? The adrenal glands work excessively, so they stop producing enough corticosteroid hormones.

Hypoadrenocorticism in cats may be caused by atrophy of the adrenal glands resulting from an autoimmune problem. Other possible causes of Addison’s disease in cats include the use of corticosteroids, tumor in the cat, damage to the pituitary gland, and infection.

Symptoms of hypoadrenocorticism in cats

Symptoms of Addison’s disease in cats are unclear, nonspecific, and vary in severity. And the severity of the symptoms is very variable, in acute Addisonian crises the signals are more severe and can put the cat’s life at risk. Symptoms of Addison’s disease in cats are:

  • tremors;
  • polyuria (increased amount of urine);
  • polydipsia (intense thirst);
  • depression;
  • anorexia;
  • He retched;
  • diarrhea;
  • slimming;
  • dehydration of the cat ;
  • collapses;
  • hypothermia;
  • alopecia;
  • abdominal pain;
  • presence of blood in the cat’s feces.


The diagnosis of hypoadrenocorticism in the cat can be made by listening to the history of the animal described by the owner, the symptoms it shows, the changes observed in the laboratory tests, in the electrocardiogram (as a result of the increase in the level of potassium in the blood) as well as evaluation of chest and abdomen radiographs which are in most cases helpful in eliminating other diseases that can cause similar symptoms.

The vet will carry out the blood test on the cat, after examining the animal and verifying the symptoms described. Afterwards the doctor may also perform a urinalysis of the cat. As the urine density is often low when the disease is present.

Finally , to establish the diagnosis with certainty it will be possible through an “ACTH stimulation test”. ACTH (or adrenocortic trophic hormone) or corticotropic hormone or adrenocorticotropin is produced by the thyroid and stimulates the adrenal glands.

ACTH causes steroidogenesis (synthesis of steroids) by acting on specific receptors in the adrenal cortex and in the case of Addison’s disease, the level of ACTH in the blood increases (because the adrenal glands do not respond).

Treatment of hypoadrenocorticism in cats

Usually the veterinarian will establish an individual treatment once the cause has been determined, which corresponds to the form of the disease, acute or chronic. But treatments commonly consist of administering corticosteroids and often fluids to correct electrolyte imbalances.

The responses of the cat’s organism, during the treatment, will allow him to refine both the treatment and precisely identify the diagnosis of the cause and thus favor an optimal recovery.  

For those who love this animal, we would like to say, in light of the understanding of this disease, that it is very important to prevent the cat from developing this pathology, since hypoadrenocorticism in cats is a serious disorder.

What the experts advise is always to try to prevent any disease, giving the animal a life based on well-being and establishing a diet of the animal based on its breed, age, weight, providing a stress-free and anxiety -free environment to the animal. cat and listen to some suggestions from your vet to be able to provide the right supplements for the cat.

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