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Managing Secondary Hyperparathyroidism in Cats: A Complete Guide

Abnormally High Levels of Parathyroid Hormone due to Chronic Kidney Failure in CatsAs pet owners, it can be concerning to see our furry companions suffer from health issues. One such issue is chronic kidney failure, which can lead to abnormally high levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) in cats.

This condition, known as secondary hyperparathyroidism, can cause a range of symptoms and complications. In this article, we’ll explore what causes this disorder, what symptoms to look out for, and how it can be diagnosed.

Secondary Hyperparathyroidism

When the kidneys are functioning normally, they produce calcitriol, a hormone that helps regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. When the kidneys are not functioning correctly, they may not produce enough calcitriol, which can lead to excessive secretion of PTH from the parathyroid glands.

This, in turn, causes the bones to release calcium and phosphorus into the bloodstream, leading to bone resorption.

Symptoms and Causes

Chronic kidney failure is the primary cause of secondary hyperparathyroidism in cats. This condition can develop gradually over time and is often seen in older cats.

As the kidney function declines, the PTH levels in the blood increase, and bone resorption occurs. One of the most noticeable symptoms of secondary hyperparathyroidism is rubber jaw, a condition where the jaw becomes soft and spongy.

This happens because of the bones in the jaw losing calcium and phosphorus, causing them to weaken. Other symptoms of this disorder include lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

History and Physical Examination

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it’s essential to take them to a veterinarian for a detailed history and physical examination. Your vet will ask you questions about your cat’s health history, including any pre-existing conditions, medications, and recent changes in behavior or appetite.

During the physical examination, your vet will look for evidence of bone resorption, such as a soft or swollen jaw. They may also check your cat’s blood pressure, listen to their heart and lungs, and palpate their abdomen.

Blood Testing and Biochemical Profiles

To diagnose secondary hyperparathyroidism, your vet will run blood tests and biochemical profiles. These tests will show if your cat has high levels of PTH, low calcium levels, and high phosphate levels.

They may also check for azotemia, a condition where there are high levels of waste products in the blood.


If your cat is diagnosed with secondary hyperparathyroidism, there are several treatment options available. The primary goal of treatment is to address the underlying cause, chronic kidney failure.

This may involve a special diet, medications, and fluid therapy. If your cat’s PTH levels are extremely high, your vet may recommend surgery to remove the affected parathyroid gland.

This is a delicate procedure that requires an experienced surgeon, and your cat may need to stay in the hospital for several days to recover.


Secondary hyperparathyroidism can be a challenging disorder to manage, but with prompt diagnosis and treatment, your cat can lead a comfortable, fulfilling life. As a pet owner, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms of this disorder and seek veterinary care promptly.

By working together with your vet, you can help your cat manage their chronic kidney failure and lead a healthy, happy life.


When it comes to treating secondary hyperparathyroidism in cats, the primary goal is to manage the underlying kidney disease and address the high phosphorous levels that contribute to the disorder’s development. There are several treatment options available to help manage this condition, including

Calcitriol Therapy and Long-term Management.

Treatment Goals

The main goal of treating secondary hyperparathyroidism in cats is to address the underlying kidney disease and lower high phosphorous levels in the bloodstream. This can be achieved through dietary management and the use of phosphate binders.

Your vet may recommend a specialized prescription diet that is low in phosphates, specifically designed to help manage chronic kidney disease and reduce the burden on the kidneys.

Calcitriol Therapy

One of the most effective treatments for secondary hyperparathyroidism in cats is

Calcitriol Therapy. Calcitriol is a potent form of vitamin D that increases calcium levels in the bloodstream and is a critical regulator of the body’s calcium homeostasis.

In cats with chronic kidney disease, calcitriol deficiencies can lead to bone resorption and rubber jaw. Calcitriol therapy involves giving small doses of the hormone via oral medication.

This helps to stimulate the normal absorption and utilization of calcium from the diet. If your cat is prescribed calcitriol therapy, it’s important to follow your vet’s instructions carefully.

Overdosing on calcitriol can lead to hypercalcemia, a condition where calcium levels in the blood are too high, leading to kidney damage.

Living and Management

Living with secondary hyperparathyroidism in cats requires a collaborative approach between you and your vet. Your cat’s treatment plan will require frequent monitoring of serum concentrations, checking of PTH levels, and ensuring that the appropriate dietary management and medication are in place.

Long-term management of secondary hyperparathyroidism in cats often includes regular bloodwork to monitor kidney function and phosphate and calcium levels. This can help ensure that your cat’s treatment plan is working effectively, and their phosphorous levels remain under control.

The long-term prognosis for cats with secondary hyperparathyroidism is typically good, particularly if diagnosed and treated early. However, it’s important to remember that the severity of the condition, the age of the cat, and the degree of kidney disease can all impact the outlook for your cat.


Managing secondary hyperparathyroidism in cats requires a committed and collaborative approach between you, your vet, and your cat. With the right treatment plan in place, including dietary management,

Calcitriol Therapy, and regular monitoring of serum concentrations, PTH levels, and bloodwork, your cat can lead a comfortable and fulfilling life.

As with all chronic health conditions, early diagnosis and proactive management are key to ensuring the best possible outcome for your cat. If you suspect that your cat may have secondary hyperparathyroidism, it’s essential to seek veterinary care promptly.

By working together with your vet, you can help your cat manage their chronic kidney failure, maintain their calcium and phosphorus levels, and lead a healthy, happy life. In summary, abnormally high levels of Parathyroid Hormone caused by chronic kidney failure in cats, known as

Secondary Hyperparathyroidism, can lead to bone resorption, rubber jaw, and other symptoms.

By diagnosing the condition through a detailed history, physical examination, and blood tests, treatment can begin.

Treatment options include addressing the underlying kidney disease,

Calcitriol Therapy, and Long-term Management through regular monitoring of serum concentrations and PTH levels. Early diagnosis and proactive management are crucial to ensure the best possible outcome for your feline companion.

By working closely with your vet, you can help your cat manage their chronic kidney failure and lead a healthy, happy life.

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