Radiation Treatment For Your Cat's Hyperthyroidism

Posted on: 21 March 2016

The two common treatments for hyperthyroidism in cats are medication and radiation. Medication gives your cat temporary relief from the hyperactive thyroid due to the tumor. Radiation treatment can be a permanent cure for your feline friend. If your veterinarian has suggested radiation treatment for your cat, here is how it works and what you can expect when you take your cat in for their appointment.

How Radiation Affects the Thyroid Tumor

Radiation involves injecting radioactive iodine into your cat's bloodstream. Their thyroid gland then absorbs the iodine. The tumor cells in the thyroid are actively reproducing and these take up the majority of the radioactive material. The healthy cells absorb little of the material.

Within a few hours of being absorbed by the tumor, the radioactive material disrupts the cellular reproduction and destroys the existing cancerous cells. As the cancer cells die off, healthy thyroid cells take over the production of the thyroid hormone in normal amounts. Your cat's body soon begins to respond to the new level of thyroid hormone. Any iodine that wasn't absorbed by the tumor is expelled from the body through the cat's urine.

Your Cat's Clinic Appointment

The treatment itself takes only a few minutes to administer. The tumor will respond to the radioactivity in a few hours. At that point, the clinic staff will monitor your cat's urine output for radiation levels. Your cat must stay at the clinic until the veterinarian sees that the radiation level is safe for your cat to go home. Depending on the size of the tumor, the weight of your cat, and the amount of radioactive iodine injected, your cat may have to stay overnight and part of the next day.

When Your Cat Goes Home

Your cat will continue to release small amounts of radioactive iodine in their urine for up to a few weeks. Each amount is small and safe by itself, but the veterinarian will want to make sure that the long-term accumulative effects on you and your family are negligible. The clinic will instruct you on precautions to take with your cat, such as:

  • Limiting contact between your cat and friends, family members and other household pets for a few days.
  • Limiting your own contact with your cat to a few minutes at a time.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly after touching your cat or when working with their food and water dishes and the litter box.

The litter box is where the majority of the radioactive waste will end up. The vet will have you scoop the used litter into a large container lined with a heavy trash can liner. When the container is full, you'll seal it tightly and set it somewhere where it will be undisturbed for several weeks. You can then put the entire container out with the trash for removal.

In a few weeks, you'll take your cat in for a follow up visit where the vet will check your cat's urine for radiation levels. When the levels have returned to normal, you'll be able to stop the precautions at home.

For more information on this procedure, talk to a veterinarian from a company like After Hours Veterinary Emergency Clinic Inc.