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recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism...any thoughts regarding radiocat treatment??

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

My 14-year old calico was just today diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I am awaiting CBC, Feline T4, Profile 15 results to see if there are any other medical issues, but in the meantime I'd like to get some feedback from anyone here who has had their pet undergo the radioactive iodine treatment.

It sounds like a really nice way to go but I'm concerned about the post-procedure treatments, i.e. special care regarding handling and disposal of litter, some degree of isolation and limited contact, etc. until the radioactive levels subside. We live in the country and have both a well and septic tank, and so I'm not too keen on the suggestion to flush the litter down the toilet! Couldn't I just put it out with the garbage as usual if bagged and disposed of properly? Also, we have a dog in the house with the cat and I'm not sure if t his would be an issue as well.

Any other thoughts or advice would be welcomed, since, if no other medical complications are present - which apparently preclude the possibility of pursuing radiocat - I'm strongly considering going this route rather than the surgery or medication options.

Much appreciated....

post #2 of 9
I haven't but know peopel that have had it done and their cats are fine

Very high success rate best option and in the long run, the cheapest
Also it is a one time treatment. When it's done, the problem should be solved
Best of luck
post #3 of 9
I highly recommend radioiodine treatment, even though my cat was one of the few it didn't work for. I do suggest having an echocardiogram done beforehand, especially if your cat has a heart murmur (many hyperthyroid cats do), just to make sure there isn't a pre-existing heart condition. My cat did have heart disease, probably not due to the hyperthyroidism, and that was what ultimately caused his death.

That said, I wouldn't worry too much about the aftercare procedures. The amount of radioactivity you and your other pets would be exposed to is minimal. The heavy restrictions are in place because exposure to radioactivity is cummulative, so if you are exposed through other sources (such as frequent cross-country flights), this just adds to your total exposure. By keeping a distance for the first few weeks, you limit the amount of exposure. It is a bigger issue for pregnant women because the radioactivity could affect fetal development.

As for the litter, I ended up storing most of it. In my state, we had to store the litter for 5 weeks before we could dispose of it in the trash--otherwise we risked setting off radioactivity sensors at the waste disposal stations. I simply put the waste in a cat litter pail lined with two garbage bags and kept in an area I didn't spend much time in.

Radioiodine is probably the best course of treatment for an otherwise healthy cat with hyperthyroidism. It cures the disease about 95% of the time, and in doing so, it prevents additional damage to the other organ systems. Surgery has more risks because they have to ensure that the parathyroid glands are kept intact, and medication never fully controls the disease, so other organs (like the heart, kidneys and liver) may still experience some effects of high thyroid levels.
post #4 of 9
At the clinic I work at we have a hyperthyroid baby and we're considering sending him for the treatment. Only problem is the closest place is Dallas and transportation/cost issues with having one of us gone for it! And then he'd have to be isolated from all the other clinic cats for a month+....

But, it's amazing what I've seen it do for cats. I'd highly recommend it. It's so much easier in the long run.

As far as post care, in our state you also have to store the litter for 5 weeks. Also, you're advised to stay 3ft away from the animal for the first 3-4wks, which includes keeping other animals away. Now honestly, the radiation is so minimal I wouldn't hold that as a must. And how exactly is one supposed to stay 3ft away from their cat without keeping it in constant isolation and reaching food/water bowls with a pole? Are you just supposed to run away when you're cat wants pets? I seriously doubt many hold to that strict standard.

Anyway, best of luck if you do decide to go for it! And let us know how everything goes.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I really appreciate it! I think I'm going to go through with it, assuming that my cat gets a clean bill of health once the blood test results come back.

The one thing I am concerned about, in the meantime, is that my cat isn't getting any treatment at all. I suppose they want to wait until they know exactly what is wrong, but it just worries me that the hyperthyroid condition is as of yet not being treated. The vet strongly suspects that there are no kidney, liver, or diabetes issues. I'm hoping this is the case.

I emailed and got a reply back from radiocat, and they explained also that the amount of radiation is very minimal. It's weird how some radiocat facilities keep the animal only 3 days and some for 7. I'm sure it depends on state regulations.

Once again, thanks so much to all who responded. I'll keep everyone updated as I get test results. Best of luck to everyone out there with any cats that have health problems.

post #6 of 9
I think hyperthyroid is something that culmulatively wears your body down over time ... So going a little while without any treatment is okay.

We had a cat who was probably hyperthyroid for many years (we did not test), that we did not treat. Eventually it caught up with her and she passed at the age of 14.

Talk to your Vet if you're concerned about doing nothing until the treatment.
post #7 of 9
Originally Posted by three4rd View Post
...I think I'm going to go through with it, assuming that my cat gets a clean bill of health once the blood test results come back...
Hi three4rd and welcome to TCS!

I caught your thread earlier today, and it raised some red flags for me, but I just didn't have the time to reply properly. Now, it's late, but I'll give it a try.

Your cat's 14 - well into his/her senior years. Part of the natural ageing process is deterioration of kidney function. In a young, healthy cat, the kidneys are not operating at their full capacity, but as kidneys deteriorate with age, that previous "excess" capacity begins to "kick in" to pick up the slack. And, as a result, while the kidneys are no longer 100%, bloodwork testing will say "normal". Ordinary bloodwork testing will NOT reveal kidney problems UNTIL 60-75% OF KIDNEY FUNCTION HAS ALREADY BEEN LOST.

So, as you can see, you really shouldn't be relying on ordinary bloodwork alone for your decision-making.

Part two: The Radioactive Iodine treatment is irreversible - just like the surgical approach...there's no going back.

Part three: It has been shown that Hyper-T often masks kidney problems and, if the Hyper-T is resolved quickly by surgery or I-131 in a cat with kidney deficiency, those cats may suddenly present with renal failure.

Part Four: There is a more "advanced"/accurate test for kidney function available.

A more prudent approach - one that I would undertake if I were in your position (and one which I will do should I ever be faced with this in any of my cats) is to start out with drug therapy to gently/gradually start to reduce the thryoid levels - while, at the same time using the advanced test and urinanalysis to monitor for any sign of kidney problem. Should all go well and I would be able to reduce thryoid levels to normal without detecting renal problems, then I would know that the I-131 treatment would be a safe option to persue. This course of action leaves me with that option still available.

If, on the other hand, renal problems are detected at some point in the thyroid level lowering process, I would be able to adjust the drug dosage to balance things out.

You'll find all of this in this recent paper by an Internal Specialist. A general coverage of what I've given can be found here - information on the specialized blood tests is here.
post #8 of 9
three4rd- I had intended to add another point in there last night...

For almost every chronic feline health condition, there are specialized practical support groups meeting online 24/7/365. These groups are comprised of people like yourself, newbies to the condition, as well as "old hands" - people who, over the course of many years, have gained an abundance of information and experience in dealing with the day-to-day management of the condition. The collective knowledge and experience in these groups most often outweighs that of most members' Veterinarians.

There is one such group for Hyper-T which is now celebrating its tenth year "in business".....again, if I were in your position, that's where I would be posing my questions. The group can be found here.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Wow..thanks for all that info! I'll check everything out and also visit the support group you suggested. Much appreciated.

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