Understanding Radiation Treatment For Your Cat's Hyperthyroidism

Posted on: 24 June 2016

After a physical examination and blood tests, the veterinarian says your cat has a thyroid tumor. You could treat your cat with medication every day for the rest of their lives, but another option is radiation therapy. A single treatment will likely get rid of the tumor and the hyperactive behaviors for good. Here is what you need to know about this treatment, how it works and what to expect when your cat comes home from the clinic.

Getting Ready for Treatment

Your cat will need to go to a special veterinary clinic that does radiation therapy on pets. These facilities have staff trained in the safe use of radiation for medical treatment.

The treatment itself takes only a few minutes. Then your cat must be monitored closely for several hours and will likely have to stay overnight. You can take blankets, toys and anything else that will help your cat to be comfortable. But you won't be able to take the items back home with you because of the risk of radiation contamination of those items.

Treatment Day

The treatment consists of injecting radioactive iodine into your cat's bloodstream.  The thyroid picks up the iodine as it passes through the gland. As the radioactive material collects in the thyroid, the tumor cells are killed. Eventually, enough of the tumor cells are destroyed and the thyroid resumes normal production of the thyroid hormone. Your cat's metabolism will slowly return to normal and they will no longer exhibit those manic traits of hyperthyroidism.

Your cat's body then gets rid of the unused radioactive iodine through their urine. The clinic will check the urine regularly for radiation levels. When it has reached a safe level, your cat can go home. The amount of radiation poses no immediate threat to you and your family. The veterinarian is concerned about the accumulative effects of radiation on you, so they want your cat's urine to have a minimal amount before they are released.

Taking Care of Your Cat When They Are Home

The clinic will instruct you on special precautions to take with your cat once they are home. This is to reduce your exposure to any radioactive material. The precautions will include:

  • Restricting contact with family members and pets for several days.
  • Limiting your own time with your cat to short visits several times a day.
  • Washing your hands after any contact with your cat, their food dishes and their litter.

You'll also need to take special care of your cat's litter as they will continue to release radioactive material in their urine for several days. This includes:

  • Scooping the litter into a lined container with a lid that seals tightly.
  • Sealing the container when it's full and placing it in a safe area to sit undisturbed.
  • Checking with your vet so you know when to safely dispose of the litter in the trash.

In a few days, you'll take your cat in for a follow-up appointment. Your veterinarian will tell you when you can stop these precautions and have normal contact with your feline companion.