Objectives: This study sought to explore the clinicopathological features and comorbidities of cats with mild, moderate and severe hyperthyroidism in a radioiodine referral population. Methods: Medical records were reviewed, along with results of serum biochemistry, urinalysis, systolic blood pressure and diagnostic imaging performed at the time of radioiodine referral. Cats were grouped by total thyroxine (TT4) levels as mildly (TT4 60.1–124.9 nmol/l), moderately (TT4 125–250 nmol/l) or severely (TT4 >250 nmol/l) hyperthyroid at the time of diagnosis and referral. Results: Thirty percent (42/140) of the cats were <10 years old at diagnosis. In 24.3% (34/140), hyperthyroidism was diagnosed incidentally. The time between diagnosis and referral for radioiodine was significantly longer in cats with severe hyperthyroidism at the time of referral (P = 0.004). An increase in severity group between the time of diagnosis and referral occurred in 38.6% (54/140) of cats. At referral, 54.3% (25/46) of cats with mild, 66.7% (42/63) with moderate and 80.6% (25/31) with severe hyperthyroidism were unstable despite ongoing medical or dietary management. The prevalence of cardiac abnormalities was significantly increased in cats with severe hyperthyroidism (P = 0.014) compared with those with mild or moderate hyperthyroidism. There was no significant difference in the likelihood of renal disease (P = 0.708) or hypertension (P = 0.328) between the groups. Conclusions and relevance: Incidental diagnosis of hyperthyroidism occurs commonly, potentially owing to increased disease screening. Cats with severe hyperthyroidism at referral were more likely to be chronically hyperthyroid with a history of poor stabilisation. This subset of patients was significantly more likely to have cardiac abnormalities. Thyrotoxic cardiomyopathy may ultimately affect patient suitability for curative treatments (radioiodine or thyroidectomy) owing to higher anaesthetic risks and potential for decompensation into congestive heart failure with the stress of travel and hospitalisation. Curative therapy should be considered before the development of severe hyperthyroidism.