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Hyperthyroid kitties - it's bad ya know

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Old 01-02-2017, 08:49 PM   #1
Littlepaw
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Default Hyperthyroid kitties - it's bad ya know

I want to share what's going on with my kitty Ba-ba since her condition is relatively common in cats 12 and older. The annual blood work requested by her vet let us know she was hyperthyroid and needs life saving treatment. Symptom-wise, hyperthyroidism in cats presents with weight loss, increased hunger and thirst and more material in the cat box.

Ba began losing weight recently which I though was from two bad teeth (now removed) but her overactive thyroid was a big contributor.

We tried the commonly given methimazole medication treatment knowing it sometimes has side effects. She did unexpectedly badly, developing pacreatitis and non-stop vomiting. My poor girl had several vet visits, blood draws, injections for nausea and sub-q fluids in one week! It was looking pretty dicey for a few days but she is recovered and eating well again (ok eating all the time, thank you thyroid).

Since she can't tolerate the med, radioactive iodine is the only option. It's superior since the condition is cured with a success rate of 95%, not just managed. Without treatment, hyperthyroidism is eventually fatal. The iodine treatment is expensive but my sweet girl nursed me lovingly through 3 operations, always senses when I am in pain and spent a year riding around on my lap in my electric scooter/chair until I could walk without assistance. We are definitely going for it. She has some years to live ahead of her.

I hope to get Ba scheduled soon, only a handful of places offer treatment so it can take a little while. Ba will have to be isolated for a few days at the vet since she'll be radioactive. So fun! Not sure how my Princess is going to handle this. Me either for that matter. But we're both stubborn so I'm sure we'll get through. Any healing thoughts sent her way are much appreciated!
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Old 01-02-2017, 10:20 PM   #2
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Littlepaw, it sounds to me that your vet is right on the ball.

Sorry if this is TMI but probably what has been recommended is [131]I (a radioactive isotope of iodine) treatment. It almost always works very well and because [131]I has a very short half-life (about 8 days) Ba-ba will need to be confined for a while until the radioactivity has dropped to safe levels. This is normal.

Ba-ba's healing is in my thoughts.


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Old 01-02-2017, 10:47 PM   #3
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Thanks Kiwi,

I am very happy with our vet, they and their staff have been caring, efficient and thourough through this whole thing. Very grateful for the good care. You're right, it is the iodine 131. Thanks for the info, it will be strange waiting for her to clear enough radiation. They have to use a Geiger counter on the cats! If it weren't stressful I would find this kind of hilarious. Getting this done is a bit anxiety producing but I'm told the injection is well tolerated and works on the first try 96% of the time. Impressive! I was a little worried about hypOthyroid developing after treatment but apparently that only happens very rarely as more than a transient phenomenon in kitties. The hardest part seems to be the isolation, which will be total for the first 24 hours to keep the vet techs safe, then they give her more food and water and leave again.

Thanks for the healing thoughts. I will report back when she is treated and back home.
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Old 01-03-2017, 12:20 AM   #4
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I hope it all goes well ,.
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Old 01-03-2017, 03:42 PM   #5
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Default Ugh - maybe bad news

Thanks MrsD and Kiwi,

We will take those healing thoughts. Just got a call from the vet saying the consulting radiologist spotted something on Ba-ba's x-ray that may or may not be cancer. She will have to get a nuclear scan of her thyroid to know if it is just an angry lymph node nearby or has thyroid cells growing in it.
.


Houston at 3 hours away is the only place that offers the test, the good thing being if she is clear they will go ahead and give the radio-iodine the next day. They scan all their iodine patients ahead of treatment so this is normal for them.

Aw geez, I would've liked to have been the only member of my family to have to go to Houston for specialty care. They do seem to know what they're doing down there though.
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:28 PM   #6
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Littlepaw, I hope that the results of the scan turn out well.


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Old 01-08-2017, 05:17 PM   #7
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I got a call from another vet who does I(131). He's been doing this treatment for a very long time and has a different take on it. He looked at Ba's records and felt the lymph node was unrelated, saying those are usually from infection. (she did just have oral surgery). He said cancer is very unlikely. When that is the case they have WAY higher labs, more than triple. He wants to treat, give antibiotics and do another x-ray in a month. He says only biopsy will show if she has 'any' kind of cancer in that node, not just thyroid. Hopefully we won't need to do one.

This plan makes sense to me. It is also at least an hour less driving and it will be one less night's stay since she'll get treated on day one. I like it! They are treating her tomorrow.
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Old 01-08-2017, 07:25 PM   #8
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Littlepaw, that sounds very positive.

I hope that all goes smoothly in the treatment tomorrow.
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Old 01-17-2017, 10:15 PM   #9
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Ok, wow. I finally have a report and thank God it isn't that my poor cat didn't make it.

I took her last Monday for treatment and picked her up Thursday. The treating clinic told me she looked "sad" before discharge and they didn't know why so they gave her fluids. Ba then got much worse. Total anorexia, severe diarrhea, inflamed intestines, refused all food and eventually even water. I had to take her for sub-q fluids daily and of course more workup. My vet wanted to hospitalize her but I declined feeling she'd do better at home. By this past Sunday she was in such bad shape we thought we we're considering euthansia. My entire household was crying uncontrollably. I syringe fed her in desperation and took her Monday for a steroid shot because everything else had been tried already. She perked up a little and drank on her own and is now improving.

Now the weird part, 3 out of 5 cats treated last week had the same problem. The other two were hospitalized and are now improving at about the same timeline. The clinic has given radio iodine for decades and say they've never seen this. They are in contact with the manufacturer trying to find out if there were other reactions to the same batch. Pretty scary! So for now we don't know what happened or what if anything it means for her future. I am just grateful she is eating and drinking and acting like a cat again. I think she really does have 9 lives! God bless her. I feel so guilty even though no one could've known.
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Old 01-17-2017, 11:46 PM   #10
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Littlepaw, that must have been very frightening for you and your household.

As you say, maybe it was a dubious batch of 131I.

I am just so relieved to read that Ba-Ba is recovering.


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