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What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy for cats is the act of replenishing the body’s hormone levels with artificial, synthetic replicas of one or more hormones. Hormone levels often deplete over time, become absent due to surgery or illness, and can be non-existent due to a genetic predisposition. Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands working as special, chemical messengers that aid in the communication between the cells, tissues and organs of the feline. Hormones are stored in various organs of the body, released through glands where they are released into the bloodstream, circulating in the blood until they make contact with their targeted area. A few common locations of hormone storage include the ovaries, testes, thyroid, liver, adrenal glands and pituitary glands. 

Hormones are extremely powerful chemicals that make major changes to the feline’s body. When a hormone comes into contact with a cell, a series of important reactions take place within that specific tissue. Your cat’s hormones regulate cognitive function, mood, thirst, body temperature, sexual development, metabolism, as well as, cell growth and development. An absence of one or more endocrine hormones will affect how your cat metabolizes, grows, reproduces and even the ability to control voluntary muscle contraction. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy Procedure in Cats

Prior to starting any hormone replacement treatment plan, your cat will have a hormone evaluation exam, requiring a simple blood sample for laboratory analysis. A hormone test will tell the veterinarian which hormone needs to be replenished and the amount the feline will need to conduct daily bodily functions. Hormone replacement therapy for cats is generally a procedure that is performed by the cat owner, as a readily fresh supply of hormones must be administered daily. Most hormones replacements are administered as an injectable, which is the procedure described below. 

Preparing the Dose: 

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly. 
  2. Read the instructions on the drug bottle thoroughly, as some concentrations need to be shaken before the drug can be withdrawn from the container. 
  3. Remove the cap from the veterinarian-approved sized needle. 
  4. Insert the syringe into the top of the bottle.
  5. Turn the bottle, with syringe still inserted in the top, upside down in your hand. 
  6. Using your other hand or little finger, pull the plunger back to the correct prescribed dosage.  
  7. Don’t remove the needle from the bottle until all air bubbles are removed. To remove air bubbles from the syringe, hold the syringe upright and gently tap the side until the bubbles float to the top. Push the bubbles out using the plunger and draw more medication to meet the correct dosage. 

Injecting the Cat: 

  1. Ask for assistance to hold the feline.
  2. Hold the syringe in your dominant hand and with your other hand, pinch and pull a fold of skin upward. The nap of the neck is the general location. 
  3. Insert the needle into the center of the skin fold, but make sure the needle has not passed through to the other side of the skin. Once you are sure the needle is inside the skin, gently push the plunger and insert the drug. 
  4. Pull the needle out from the skin and place the cap back on the needle to prevent personal harm. 
  5. Dispose of the needle and syringe in a biohazard/sharps disposal unit. 
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Efficacy of Hormone Replacement Therapy in Cats

Hormone replacement therapy for cats is a highly effective treatment method for a number of hormone-related diseases, deficiencies and secondary effects from surgery. Once the missing hormones have been replenished, the feline will regain the ability to conduct bodily function. 

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Hormone Replacement Therapy Recovery in Cats

Hormone replacement therapy for cats generally begins to take effect immediately, but it can take up to a week for improvements to be noted. 

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Cost of Hormone Replacement Therapy in Cats

The cost of hormone replacement therapy for cats really depends on the type of hormone that is being replaced, as some hormones cost more to replicate. Some artificial hormones cost as low as $15 per bottle, whereas other can cost a pet owner over $100 per container. 

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Cat Hormone Replacement Therapy Considerations

Hormone replacement therapy for cats is a daily, lifelong commitment and may not fit every cat owner’s life style. Many hormone replacement drugs also require the pet owner to inject or administer a pill to the feline every day, which may also cause concern for some pet owners.

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Hormone Replacement Therapy Prevention in Cats

Hormone replacement therapy for cats can be prevented in some cases. Choosing not to remove your felines reproductive organs can prevent the need for hormone therapy and prevent urinary incontinence. A proper diet and preventing obesity often prevents diabetes, but is not always the case for feline born with this insulin deficiency. 

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Hormone Replacement Therapy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Norwegian forest cat

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Seventeen Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Howling Urinating B.C. Everywhere Indoors (Spraying)

My female cat recently received anabolic steroid injection. After 1 week she is constantly howling and has started spraying (urinating) everywhere indoors. Can this be reversed with estrogen therapy? We cant go on with her in this state as she seems very distressed and has started shaking.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Those are not common side effects from a steroid injection, and I would be more concerned about other disease, given her age. Without being able to see or examine her, or know more about her history, it is difficult for me to say what might help, but it seems that something needs to be done, I agree. It would be a good idea to call your veterinarian, let them know what is happening, and see if they have any thoughts, since they saw her recently. I hope that all goes well for her!

Oct. 5, 2020

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Scooter

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tabby

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16 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Disorientation

My cat Scooter is 16 years old. He started losing his fur about a month ago and is nearly bald. He acts disoriented and loses his stability sometimes when standing still. His vet palpated his thyroid and adrenal glands. He has been tested for Cushings, as his vet thought he had all the symptoms. Nothing has shown up. He eats, drinks, pees, and poops fine, although outside of litter box. Nothing is in his urine, he does not have parasites or allergies. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Aug. 7, 2018

Scooter's Owner

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Alopecia (among other symptoms) may be suggestive of a hormonal condition like Cushing’s, hypothyroidism etc… the disorientation may or may not be related; without examining Scooter I cannot say what the specific cause is and further testing may be required to narrow in on an underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 8, 2018

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MISS CALLIE

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Calico

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

HAS HRT EVER BEEN USED TO TREAT IBD IN CATS? MY CAT SEEMS TO HAVE FLAREUPS EVERY 14-21 DAYS. RIGHT NOW, HAVE CHANGED DIET BUT PLAN TO USE PREDNISONE BEFORE NEXT FLARE. NOTICED THAT 14-21 DAYS IS ALSO ESTRUS CYCLE OF CATS. MAYBE JUST A COINCIDENCE?

April 15, 2018

MISS CALLIE's Owner

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I am not aware of any link between estrous cycle and irritable bowel syndrome, it is an interesting theory but most likely is a coincidence. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 16, 2018

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Damit

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Feline

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching Scratching Scabs

My vet diagnosed my 10 yr old female cat as having a lack of hormones. She presented with symptoms such as itching, scratching, scabs all over her, followed by hair loss. He prescribed AMSO 1 tablet 2xd and Meg Pee 1/2 tab by mouth 1xd for 8 days then 1 tab by mouth every 4th day. It works initially but 2 weeks after the medication is gone we are back at square one. No test have been done to determine which hormones are deficient. She looks as though she’s dehydrated. Clumped fur, scraggly. But her urine is clear as Water. She’s eating drinking pooping and peeing. The other night I noticed that her belly was distended and when I palpated, it felt as though she had swallowed pop rocks. I listened and that’s what it sounded like too. I took away her dry grain food, for 10 hours, and replaced it with grain free wet food. That seems to have resolved the distention and “pop rocks”. I don’t know if this is related to the skin condition. Any advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for being available. Alta PS Her name is Damit.

April 11, 2018

Damit's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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If Damit is dehydrate and her hair coat is rough, she should have some basic lab tests run to assess her systemic function. As cats age, they are commonly affected by kidney, liver, thyroid and diabetes conditions. If any of these are underlying her skin problem, they will need to be resolved. I hope that she is okay.

April 12, 2018

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Sally

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Mix

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11 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Depression And Confusion
Post Spay Depression And Confusion

I have recently had my 10 month old female cat spayed, removing the ovaries and the uterus. In hindsight, I would have liked to just remove the uterus and keep the ovaries, so that the hormonal peaks and troughs would have remained, and that my cat would go into heat, seasonally. She has continual access to outdoors and other un-neutered cats. I was considering giving my cat estrogen, maybe estradiol, during the spring season to mimic the rhythm. I am aware of the small risks of cancers in not removing the ovaries, and I am also aware of the risks of infection if she were to mate. I am also aware of the behavioural aspects of estrus (being in heat). I have taken these things into account. What I have not taken into account, nor can find any data on, is id there could be any negative health benefits to giving my cat periodic estrogen during Spring. I know why I want to do this. So I would appreciate advice and guidance, rather than telling me it is a stupid idea and the cat is fine. I am well aware there must be massive amounts of complex psycho-social problems that are swept under the conversational rug about spaying and castrating. It is about human convenience, for the most part. Post menopausal women may go through all kinds of poor moods and may have poor cognition and memory. If would like a vet to give me theoretical and sound advice as to whether it is possible, the potential side effects, recommended dosages, the type of estrogen e.t.c. Just please don't give me the old line of it is not necessary and neutered cats are perfectly happy. I see it differently. Many people do. It is not a clear cut, black or white issue. It is highly ideological, and people are unique, as are cats. Please advise us kindly ! Yours sincerely, Chris

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Meredith

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American Shorthair

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Urinary

My female cat was having issues going potty around the house so I took her to the vet to make sure she didn't have a bladder infection. They prescribed hormone treatment and explained her bladder was fine but she was acting out due to something in her personality/environment. So far shes been taking the medicine for a week and hasn't peed outside of her litter box. I'm super happy but worried she will return to her old ways once the pills run out. Has anyone else been prescribed hormone treatment for the same issue and if so, how did it work for you? I'm wondering if she'll need this forever to keep her from going back to her old behavior.

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