What a gorgeous cat Bo is! Best of luck in finding the best way to treat his hyperthyroidism so that he can get back to his normal loveable self.
I’m hoping that CrazyCatLady will come in to offer her expert veterinary advice, but in the meantime, I can tell you about our experience with radioiodine treatment for our cat’s hyperthyroidism, which was very successful.
Psycho Kitty of Steel was diagnosed three years ago, when she was 10 years old, and she had a pretty severe case, with sky-high T4 levels.
We tried her on methimazole (Tapazole) for a month. We had no trouble administering the pills (she’s part dog, and greedily chomps down wet food that’s had a pill tamped down into it without even noticing, very unlike other cats we’ve had) and she didn’t have a real problem with vomiting.
However, the medication made her extremely dull and listless – the total opposite of her normal psycho personality – and her fur lost all its shine and was falling out. Those are apparently common side-effects.
Meanwhile, we’d been looking into other treatment options, and when we saw a few examples of vets saying that if it were their pet, they would choose the radioiodine treatment (e.g., at VetInfo4Cats), we decided to opt for that despite the really horrific expense.
We figured that with the price of the Tapazole plus the associated blood monitoring that would be required, if she lived for three more years, the cost would be about the same, not to even mention the potential for an actual cure and a much better quality of life. Since she was only 10 and had otherwise always been in rude health, we thought it was a worthwhile gamble.
We took her to Radiocat. They have offices in a number of states, so depending where you live, this may be where they send you, too.
She did have to stay there for about five days until her radioactivity levels went down some and we couldn’t visit her during that time, which was tough, but they encourage you to send along things like a toy or two and a blanket (note: you can’t get any of that back afterwards) and the cat’s own food. They also called daily with a detailed update on exactly how she was doing; overall, the people there were extremely nice to deal with.
After she came back, we had to take special precautions with her and with her litter for about two weeks. The cat needs to stay inside (not a problem for us; PKoS is an indoor cat), and you’re supposed to limit (not eliminate, but just limit) contact, especially with the cat’s saliva, waste, and footpads (maybe because of radioactive foot sweat? I don’t really get that one…).
For instance, they recommend avoiding face-to-face cuddling completely. Luckily for us, PKoS is not the face-to-face cuddling type; she’s more of an ankle-twiner and prefers to stay on the floor chattering at us while we talk to her and bandy her name about with abandon. The cuddle-avoiding thing would have been much more of a problem with our dearly departed Velcro Kitty, whose favorite position was forehead to forehead with her front paws wrapped around your neck and purring up your nose.
They also gave us some yucky organic flushable litter that smelled really gross, like a barn or a guinea pig’s cage, and some rubber gloves to use when scooping it (not to be done by children or pregnant women). Apparently, it’s not at all okay to put radioactive cat poop into a landfill, but it’s no problem to flush it right into the sewer system (???).
Anyway, I would describe all of these precautions as a pretty minor inconvenience, and it was all over in a few weeks. The good news? After that few weeks, PKoS was back to her normal psycho self, and the treatment was effective. Her T4 levels are normal, and she’s coming right up on the three years and is still in rude (nobody ruder!) health.
The only problem is that she’s gained a little too much weight and is a bit, um… chunky now. Not fat enough for the vet to be concerned, but not as svelte as she once was.
Here’s hoping for an equally happy outcome for Bo!