Has anyone had radioiodine done on their cat?

My 14 year old beloved cat Bo was diagnosed hyperthyroid. He has been taking methimazole pills for a month now, but he has increased vomiting and hasn’t gained any weight back. :frowning: I don’t know if the pills will be a good solution for him. Surgery is out - he is old, and there is a chance it can come back on the other side. My vet has told me about the radioiodine treatment. I have two things holding me back from this - 1) The cat has to be gone for up to a week following the procedure, it makes them radioactive. 2) It costs $900 for the shot. I can (hopefully) sell some of my stuff to make the money, but before I commit to something like this I would like to know any other’s experiences with this?

How long was your cat gone? Was there any restrictions when the cat came home as far as handling the cat, or cuddling with it? Did you have to handle the litter differently? Did it work for (cure) your cat?

Bo means a lot to me and I really want to cure him of this so he can gain some weight back and quit the vomiting. I feel so bad for him, he is the most loveable cat and I hate to see him suffering.

I did know one person who had that treatment done on their cat and it was effective. Unfortunately I can’t rememeber who it was right now.

That said, I’m a nuclear medicine technologist and have done hundreds of I-131 treatments on human patients with around a 99% success rate. The ones that weren’t successful either didn’t get enough iodine, so we retreated, or got too much, which meant that the patient was on thyroid medication for the rest of their lives. Ask your veterinarian about these possible outcomes and what the cost might be to you. Again, not sure about cats, but the doses for people are fairly well defined, hence the high success rate.

For high dose therapies we usually kept patients in the hospital for a few days, as their sweat, saliva, urine, feces, etc all contained radioactive iodine, which is a beta emitter and thus very dangerous. The physician/vet will determine when it is safe for your cat to return home and then there should be no restrictions, although personally I would keep the cat and it’s offal away from any pregnant women for a few days more, just to be safe. :wink:

Good luck!

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!

Oops! Thought the link would take you directly to the response I was talking about, but it looks like you have to click on “Radioactive iodine therapy” to get there.

We had this done on a 9-year-old cat in Santa Cruz, CA. She came through it with no ill effects. She was not released until we could safely handle her. Tammy lived another 11 years after the procedure, making it well worth the expense. The oral medication over that period of time would have cost much more.

Good luck with your kitty.

I second nearly everything Miss Bianca said about RadioCat, and her experience with them. :slight_smile:

Smokey The Cat went to them about 3 years ago, when she was 15. I didn’t even bother trying medication first, because she is very difficult to pill – I went right for the radiation treatment. She didn’t have to stay for 5 days, though, it was only 3; IIRC, they told me 5 days because that’s the max. I was fairly amused to watch them wave a geiger counter over my kitty before giving her back to me…I’d been making jokes with friends like “so if she bites me while she’s radioactive, will I turn into Catwoman?”

I had no problem with the ‘special’ litter at all, though I might have been given a different brand: I got Swheat Scoop, which is indeed natural and flushable. I didn’t notice any kind of smell, and I liked it so much that I switched to it permanently. Just bought some more yesterday, as a matter of fact. {grin}

All in all it was a positive experience, and Smokey got the all-clear on her next bloodwork. Unfortunately, there’s a chance that my girl now has kidney disease, and I’m waiting for her UTI to clear up so the vet can repeat her urinalysis and find out for sure. But when they did her bloodwork on Friday, they were able to run the tests in-house because they didn’t need to check her thyroid! :slight_smile:

We gave Bleu (a Burmese) the treatment a couple of years ago. The good news is: he’s fine now (he’s pretty durn old too)

The bad news is, between this and the new tiwns, he’s got some behavioral issues with peeing on the carpet outside the laundry room where we keep the litter.

I think it may be part behavioral and part old-age as he’ll actually go over to the clean box and pee just outside it.

We’ve come to grips with it, use enzyme cleaner in the rug shampooer weekly and put disposable plastic on the carpet around where he usually does it.

After he and his bro’ die, we’re going to hardwood floors anyway, so it’s not really worth getting more angry about it.

Thanks for all the replies. I am almost positive I am going to have this done, having him gone will be so hard though. One minor concern, Bo is a snuggler to the max. He sleeps on my pillow. He also loves ‘touching’ us with his paws. What is the worst that could happen? Will it affect my other two cats? They all share four litterboxes, and Hanna especially loves to cuddle up with Bo. No pregnant women or children around here, so at least I won’t have to worry about that.

Geez our stupid cat has started the peeing outside the box thing lately. Before when he did this our vet diagnosed him with a bladder infection. After we (and by “we” I mean my wife) gave him antibiotics that seemed to clear up the problem and he stopped doing that…for a while. He started peeing outside the box again and we took him in but they found no infection.

He’s about 14 years old and had the radioiodine treatment last year. It was in the $900 price range. They kept him for about a week and it worked quite well. He got pretty skinny before and he was back to his normal size pretty soon after.

After he came home, we (and once again I mean my wife) had to scoop and store his radioactive litter for a while before disposing of it. Now that I think about it, we still have it in the garage.

Right after he came home, we were supposed to limit our contact with him for a few days but it was no big deal since he spent most of the time hiding behind the sofa while our older less of a PITA cat hissed at him a lot.

I realize this question pertains to your contact after Bo comes home, but here’s something to think about:

I have a suggestion that will make it easier on Bo for the time he is gone. Wear an old t-shirt for a couple of days, and don’t wash it. Make sure it is good and saturated with your scent. Send it with him, so he can have it when he goes for treatment. Might make Bo feel more secure when in a strange place.

My kitty is also a major snuggler… she got very attached to BF before we shared a household, and used to miss him terribly when he was not around. We did the t-shirt thing for her, and she used to sleep on it all the time. Really seemed to make her feel better. Guess I had no choice about moving in with BF, since my cat-child loved him so much :wink:

I’ll think good thoughts for you and Bo…hope he’s back in top form soon!

Regarding cats who pee outside the litter box: mine does it occasionally (I chalk it up to old age), and I have found that underpads are priceless. You know, those absorbent, leakproof things you can use on chairs and beds with people who are incontinent? I get the largest size that the drugstore sells (a couple feet, square) and put it under the box. They work like a charm, and all I have to do afterwards is fold up the used pad and put a fresh one down. The used pad doesn’t take up much room in the garbage, either.

Just an idea. :slight_smile:

The after-care instructions specifically say that your temporarily radioactive cat doesn’t have to be segregated from people or your other pets, so I assume there won’t be any problems for your other two cats. I’d just double-check with your vet and the radiotherapy folks about that.

On the litterboxes, they only say not to leave unsupervised dogs or children with the litterbox, probably because some dogs will snack from it and I suppose small children might plunge their hands into it or something. You may have to switch all four of the litterboxes to the wheat litter for the two weeks if they’re going to continue to share. Again, the radiotherapy place should be able to help you figure out the best way to handle the litterbox situation.

I’m sure the paw tapping won’t be a problem; they just say to wash your hands with soap and water after prolonged contact with the cat. There’s a weird dichotomy in the way that some of the precautions make you think the radiation is a huge big deal, but then they turn around and tell you that your exposure from the cat won’t be any worse than your exposure from taking an airplane flight or spending a day at the beach, or that if the cat spews radioactive vomit all over the inside of the cat carrier, just use gloves to clean it up with soap and water.

They do recommend against much face-to-face contact, so I’m afraid that Bo sleeping on your pillow is probably right out for the two weeks. I know this will be really hard, but on the other hand, 3-5 days at the radiotherapy place and two weeks of less-than-usual snuggling is still shorter than the month he’s already been on the Tapazole and unhappily vomiting.

Again, best of luck with Bo, and Misnomer, I have my fingers crossed for Smokey and her kidneys, too!

I wanted to update this without starting a new thread. Bo is in getting radioiodine done right now. I dropped him off last night and the Dr. gave the pill (he uses a sugar capsule with the radioactive iodine in it instead of a shot) this morning. He just called me to tell me that Bo is shy, but doing well. :slight_smile:

They like to release without restrictions, so Bo will need to stay until approximately the 29th - but when he comes home there will be no handling restrictions, and all I need to do with the litter is store it for 3 weeks then I can dispose of it with my normal trash.

I miss him terribly, especially at bedtime when he likes to cuddle, but this will cure him and I can deal with it. I hope.

Hang in there, Boscibo…I know it sucks having Bo away, especially so soon after losing your Bandit, but it WILL cure him and as soon as he’s back home you’ll be so glad you did it! :slight_smile:

Our old cat had a treatment, and lasted a while longer before finally expiring of old age at home. I’m thinking he was maybe 16 years old or so when he had the radio iodine treatment, and maybe 20 years old when he died.

Don’t remember too much as far as restrictions, but we weren’t supposed to pet him or let him sleep with us for a week or two after he got home, and had to use flushable litter for that time period.

From what I understand, the restrictions have eased up quite a bit since then. I think it just has to do with what the government says the current safety standards are.

If you want more information on these treatments, visit:

Hypothyroidism Information Center

Good luck!