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405614 tn?1329147714

Should I try the radioactive iodine treatment for Fluffy's thyroid?

Fluffy has hyperthyroidism and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  He takes Methimazole and Tylan, and eats Iams Low-Residue prescription diet food.  He's 14 years old.

He wakes me up throughout the night, meows constantly, and always wants to eat.  Last night he wouldn't stop meowing until 2 am, and then we both slept through his morning feeding and medication time.

I have spent thousands of dollars on tests, and he's in fairly good health, considering he now weighs 17 pounds.  He lost one of his back legs when he was born, so he has a hard time hefting himself up the stairs, and yowls til I carry him.  So far no sign of diabetes, his blood pressure, liver, kidney, and all that are good.

I took him to a new vet, partially for financial reasons, and partially because my old vet had run out of ideas.  The new vet doubled his methimazole dosage to 5 mg. twice a day, saying that his thyroid was a little off, his metabolism was too high, so he always felt hungry, and that was why he was demanding food all the time and gaining weight.  

I have health issues of my own, and can't withhold his food so he'll lose weight, or I'll never get any sleep, and that causes even more health issues with me.  I have tried to cut down on how much dry food I put out.

The new dosage of medicine seemed to help for a couple days, then he was itching badly for a couple days, and now he's the same as before, meowing all the time, wants fresh food all the time, doesn't want me to sleep.  If I lock him in another room, he gets so upset that his diarhea gets really bad, even with the Tylan.

The vet suggested I try "The Cure", aka radioactive iodine treatment.  It costs $900, Fluffy will be kept for 4 days, then I'll spend two weeks collecting his urine and feces while wearing gloves, keeping it in a special container, and taking it in for hazardous waste disposal.  With a missing back leg, he often gets urine or sometimes feces on his back-side, and I'm concerned about radioactive exposure; he'll drag it around, and then try to clean himself...

I'm at my wit's end.  I really can't afford it, and I'm not sure that his thyroid is what's causing his behaviour problems.  I love my little guy, and would scrape together the money if I thought it would make him more comfortable and be able to lose weight.  I'm just concerned about going through all that with my own health issues, and the possibility that he's got something else going on, like a form of feline dementia.  

Does anyone have any insight on this matter?  Has anyone tried the "Cure"?  Help!

7 Responses
669982 tn?1225672843
I am just learning about hyperthyroidism, but it seems like weight loss happens to almost all of the cats.  That is how I just discovered it in my 14 year old female.  She went from 11 pounds to 7 pounds in the past year while seeming perfectly healthy.  Just like you, I have been feeding a lot since the diagnosis, but she has not gained weight at all yet.  Your cat shouldn't need to lose weight if it is hyperthyroid, so it sounds to me like you may have some other problem.  But like I said, I'm really new to this disease.  Good luck!
541150 tn?1306037443
I have heard of this treatment. A lot of people have had success and only a few percentage need to repeat this method. I would go ahead and do it. $900 isn't so bad even though it is a lot of money how ever you look at it. Radioactive iodine treatment costs start at $1000.  Perhaps the vet has told you that this type of treatment is preferred over others because it requires no anesthesia, sedation, or surgery. Also, there is no need for daily medication. Radioactive Iodine does not destroy healthy tissue or other organs, and normal thyroid function returns within a month. I would say the only disadvantage is the cost. You decide if you should go ahead with this treatment or not hun, but chances are he will get better. I totally understand money issues. My cat has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, just like yours, and he gets diarrhea all the time, so I can relate, and he is only 1 year and 3 months old, and I've already spent a fortune at the vet.

If you can do this, then I would give Fluffy the opportunity of a lifetime. I trust this treatment 100%  :) and your beautiful kitty's health will improve big time. Please come back with an update. Take care, and I wish you all the best to you both.
405614 tn?1329147714
I thought the same thing, but according to both of my vets, as well as the internal medicine vet specialist I took Fluffy to see, it is not abnormal for a hyperthyroid cat to actually gain weight, because of that speeded up metabolism making him think he's starving to death, so he feels like he has to eat all the time.  

Unfortunately, the souped up metabolism doesn't seem to make him want to run and play, which isn't easy for him with three legs, anyway.  I try to get him to play, but he plops down and occasionally bats at the feather toy on a pole that I try to get him to chase.  He'll look after a ball I roll by, but not chase it.

I'm glad your cat is more healthy with this hyperthyroidism stuff; I'm told that Fluffy's at risk for diabetes if he gains more weight, or stays as big as he is.  When Fluffy's hyperthyroidism wasn't being treated, his blood pressure was really high, so take good care of your little lady cat.

Thanks for responding!
405614 tn?1329147714
Thanks, I keep going back and forth about it.  I live on a fixed income, and that amount would take a major chunk of my emergency funds; I don't do credit.  

I was assured by the vet that if the procedure didn't work, some small percentage needs a second treatment, that would also be covered in the original cost, as well as the hazardous waste disposal.

I'm staying at a friends house, due to rather bad neighbors at my apartment, but I could take Fluffy to the apartment for the two weeks after the treatment, to reduce the radiation risk to my friend, and then can walk away from my apartment while any residual radiation disipates.  I would especially not want him at my friend's place if he got diarhea from the stress of being at the vet's for several days!  I already have extra long heavy duty gloves from Costco that I got after my apartment was treated with a powdered pesticide with "willful negligence" while Fluffy was at home early in 2007.

The stuff was really nasty and management was awful, so I did some cleaning myself before it made me sick. (I moved Fluffy to my friend's that first day of the pesticide event).  Anyway, I have the gloves already for the scooping the litter after the treatment.  I'll stock up on Cottonelle wipes for his back-side.

I just have to plan when to do it.  I'm spending a few days in CA around Thanksgiving, and then am spending two weeks on Maui (my roommate's treat!) starting January 1.  I want him to get over the trauma of being left with his Aunt Judy (friend and catsitter that watches him at the apartment) before I put him through the trauma of going to the vet.

Thanks a lot for your input, it really gives me a more positive outlook about the whole idea.  I'll keep you updated.

587315 tn?1333556383
Radioactive iodine is an awesome choice!!  I would've done it in a heartbeat if my cat's kidneys were better.  The kidneys were not awful just yet, but they were on the way.  Have you considered this yet-checking your cat's kidney function?  This is very important because the kidneys have to be working well to be able to get rid of the iodine.  Before, you spend all of this money on the treatment, you'd be doing yourself and kitty a huge favor by checking this first.  I'd request 2 tests-the first one is a urine test to check for leakage of protein and glucose, and the second test is the kidney panel, which is a blood test, to check for urea and nitrogen.  Most vets will reccommend the blood test ONLY, but kidney problems will first show up in the urine.  That's why I highly reccommend this one FIRST.

Then, if all checks out-go for it!!  I've read about this myself, and it's a great treatment plan.  

Keep us posted!
405614 tn?1329147714
My vet suggested the urine test; at Fluffy's last exam with my former vet, his liver and kidney function were really good, so I'm hoping that they still are, as it wasn't that long ago.

I'll definitely get the urine test done.  Actually, the place that does the radioactive iodine treatment requires it; they won't do it if everything's not in good shape.  

I just have to figure out the when!
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