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Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's Disease) in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Hypoadrenocorticism is a rare disease in cats, but is usually very treatable. Nevertheless, without proper veterinary care, the condition can be fatal. Because the history, clinical signs, and presentation of cats with hypoadrenocorticism are so variable, there are other illnesses that must initially be considered when establishing a definitive diagnosis. These illnesses may include:

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) foreign bodies that cause vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness

  • Infections of the gastrointestinal tract with bacteria (Salmonella, Campylobactor, Clostridia), viruses (panleukopenia, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline infectious peritonitis virus), fungi (histoplasmosis), or parasites.

  • Neoplasia (cancer) of the gastrointestinal tract, such as lymphosarcoma and adenocarcinoma

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a syndrome of chronic intestinal inflammation

  • Kidney diseases, such as acute kidney failure and pyelonephritis (infection of the kidney)

  • Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea

  • Urinary blockage resulting in hyperkalemia (high blood potassium) and azotemia (abnormal kidney function test)

  • Diseases causing hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels), such as cancer and parathyroid gland diseases

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