My husband and I have two cats, a 14yo and a 7yo. We took the cats to the vet not too long ago, for a basic wellness check and shots.
Neither of the cats show any symptoms of any illness, just time for a generic checkup. The only oddity was very occasional peeing outside of the box by the younger cat. We hadn’t been able to tie it to anything, though it seemed that in general she was going a little stir crazy, and so maybe the two were tied. Of course, she could have just decided the box wasn’t clean enough for her too. It was also exceedingly rare.
This visit was the first time we’d been to this practice.
They did all the basic exams on both cats, and then told us they wanted to run a set of tests on the 14yo that they do once a year for all geriatrics, and they recommend starting this at 8yo. I’m not sure of everything they do, but I know it includes a CBC, a urinalysis and a T4. When they told me that they do this test starting at 8yo, I said to pull it on the younger cat as well, so that we’d have a baseline of “normal” for her as she ages. My husband and the vet agreed that this was a good idea, so it was done. Both cats weigh in at the same weight +/- 0.2lbs as they have the last two years.
Of course, our cats were crafty, and thwarted the attempts to get urine there, so we were sent home with non-absorbent litter and a sample jar and told to get a sample from the younger cat, in case of UTI. We don’t have these results back yet.
What we do have, though, is the vet calling to tell us that the older cat is totally normal. The younger cat’s T4, however, is high. We’ve likely got hyperthyroidism. The vet runs through the options (pills, creams, surgery and radioactive iodine). We decide on the iodine treatment, since she’s young and healthy, there’s a facility nearby and, most importantly, it’s a permanent fix.
It’s also an expensive fix. So our discretionary spending (I’d had my eye on a new dress, for example), is curtailed, and we start making plans. The facility that does the iodine treatment needs CBC, T4, free T4, chest X-rays and a urinalysis all done within 30 days of treatment. The cat was showing no symptoms. We get the free T4 done (to confirm the diagnosis before making an appointment with the other facility), and it also comes back high. This is real. So, we talk with the vet we’ve been working with, and she gives us the go ahead to set it all up. We make the appointment with radiocat (warning, obnoxious pop-under), they do have an appointment within the 30 day window of the CBC and so we make the appointment to get chest x-rays.
The thinking is that since we’ve caught this early, by blood work rather than symptoms and such, we can fix it, and get it all done without having to repeat the CBC, T4, free T4, urinalysis and chest x-rays. The iodine treatment isn’t going to come cheap, and none of these tests are in the single digits either. The vet we’ve been working with agrees that this is a good move, especially as the cat is young and apparently asymptomatic (there’s some question about the stir craziness and the peeing).
Our younger cat got the x-rays done yesterday; due to our schedule, this was the only day we could drop her off. This meant that a new vet would be doing the x-rays. We didn’t think much of that, figuring that this was all pretty standard.
The second vet does the x-rays, and then calls us to tell us everything looks good. BUT she thinks we’re making a huge mistake by going straight to radiocat. According to her, and some information she sent home with us, hyperthyroidism in cats often masks renal problems. Thus, we need to put our cat on the pills or the cream first, for at least two weeks, then test renal function again. Only then should we decide to go forward with radiocat or not. Radiocat says the cat needs to be off pills/cream for a minimum of one week before bringing her in.
That, of course, puts us way outside the window for the original tests, requiring that we run the whole gauntlet again, without treatment for the cat so radiocat knows how much iodine to give the cat. Oh, and the cat is now symptomatic. In the 2.5 weeks between the original wellness exam and the x-rays, she’s lost almost a pound, though her eating does not appear to have increased. So, no matter what, something has to happen soon. We want the cat healthy as quickly as possible.
The first vet said nothing about possible renal issues. She green lighted us to get a permanent fix. The second vet seemed to only worry about it because she was a cat with hyperthyroidism, sort of circular reasoning. I’m confused, because none of this comes cheap, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather pill a cat everyday for the rest of her life than deal with a cat with renal issues (and the accompanying reduced life expectancy), and the vets have basically given me to separate sets of advice.
To top it off, both vets have said or done things that have pinged my radar a bit, with regards to testing, sort of like they’re inclined to over test for the sake of testing. I know some vets do it; a vet from my mom’s clinic of going on 13 years now was fired for it. I also suspect it’s rare. However, I’m not a vet, I don’t know what’s best in this, I don’t want my cats to be ill, and I don’t know if I’m over-reacting. I do know that I wonder why the second vet didn’t call us before taking the chest x-rays, to give us her opinion. But I also figure I’m being ridiculous on that, because she probably looked at the chart enough to see that the cat was going into radiocat first, did the x-rays, then looked closer and saw the cat was not yet being treated, and this was a very new diagnosis.
Argh. I’m so confused, which makes me frustrated. I feel like I’m in that part of The Dilbert Future where Scott Adams talks about JiffyCat2000 and petownerwalletectomies.
I know this is long; I wasn’t sure what would be pertinent and what wouldn’t in helping anyone to help my husband and I sort it out, so I sort of threw it all in. If you’ve made it this far, I thank you.