The endocrine system of a cat consists of seven glands around the body, which produce cat hormones. These are chemicals messengers released into the blood which act elsewhere in the body.
- A cat’s health depends on the correct functioning of its endocrine system throughout its life.
- This controls the body’s hormone levels, which includes adrenalin for fight or flight.
- The endocrine glands are in various parts of the body; they send out chemical messages to specific organs, controlling behaviour and metabolism.
- He cat’s pituitary gland, which is located beneath the hypothalamus at the base of the skull, effectively controls the entire endocrine system, although the trigger for the pituitary to liberate hormones comes from the hypothalamus itself.
How The Endocrine System Of A Cat Works
When the level of hormones in the blood falls, so the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland by means of releasing hormones. These may result either in the direct release of a hormone such as growth hormone or an intermediary hormone, such as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) for example, which then acts on the cat’s thyroid glands, stimulating the output of hormones from this part of the body. Once the level in the circulation is restored, the hypothalamus’s output of releasing hormones then declines.
Cat Endocrine Problems
Health problems affecting the cat’s endocrine system are most likely to be seen in the case of either the pancreas or the thyroid glands. One of the functions of the pancreas is insulin production, which if impaired, can result in the illness diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes). The thyroid glands regulate the body’s metabolic rate and, when imbalanced, can either be underactive or overactive, which leads to weight gain and loss respectively.
- Endocrine glands may be described as ductless glands, because they release hormones directly into the blood stream.
- The endocrine system includes the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands, as well as the pancreas and ovaries or testes.
- The output of hormones varies throughout life. Growth hormone, released from the pituitary gland, is essential for kittens, but not for mature cats.
What can be done for a cat suffering from diabetes mellitus?
In a mild case of diabetes mellitus, simply placing your cat on a diet so that it loses weight may be sufficient to enable the body’s output of insulin to be sufficient again. Only in more extreme cases will insulin injections be required.
Does a cat’s hormonal output vary?
Yes, particularly in the case of adrenalin which is produced from the central part of the adrenal glands, which are near the kidneys. It is released when the cat feels threatened, speeding up the heart rate, breathing and the metabolic rate, as well as delaying the onset of muscular fatigue. Adrenalin is known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, assisting the cat to take either course of action when it is in danger.