Feline hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine disease in cats, affecting about 10% of cats that are over ten years old. This disease is caused by an overactive thyroid gland (or glands; cats have two) due to a non-cancerous tumor, which results in more thyroid hormone being made than the cat's body needs. High levels of thyroid hormone can result in weight loss, changes in appetite, increased thirst and urination, hyperactivity, vomiting, and diarrhea. Over time, heart disease can also develop.
I-131 treatment, or radioiodine therapy, is a very effective way to treat hyperthyroidism in cats. It has very few side effects, and once completed, the cat does not need ongoing treatment. Other treatments for hyperthyroidism tend to have more side effects, or require long-term medication, so I-131 treatment is often preferred. In I-131 treatment, a radioactive isotope of iodine is injected under the skin (like a vaccine) and the tumor absorbs it. The local radiation kills the abnormal cells with very few side effects. Once the cat's thyroid levels return to normal, they are considered cured and do not need ongoing treatment.
The Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota (AERC) performs I-131 treatments, and is where Mellie will be going for hers. They have a very nice facility, possibly the best in the country, for cats that are undergoing I-131 treatment. Each cat has its own large kennel, with windows, multiple levels, and separate areas for a litterbox, sleeping, and eating.
Cats that are having I-131 treatment arrive at the AERC on Monday morning for their initial consult, which will screen for any concerns that would prevent them from being able to have the treatment. A treatment plan is created specifically for each individual cat. The cats then stay in the hospital overnight and get their radioiodine injection on Tuesday. No anesthesia or surgery is needed. They can go home after their radiation levels are below the state mandated level, which is on Friday for about 80% of patients. The rest go home on Saturday. Owners can visit their cat at the AERC, viewing them through a nursery-style viewing window, or they can log in and monitor their kitty via webcams that are available around-the-clock.
After returning home, a few precautions are necessary for the first three weeks to minimize radiation exposure for the cats and people who live with the patient. Complete isolation from people is not required, but exposure should be very limited. Among other things, treated cats must be kept separate from other cats and use separate food and water dishes, and litter boxes, because radioiodine in excreted in the urine and saliva. Because of this, you won't see Mellie roaming around the hospital for the three weeks following her I-131 treatment.
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Congratulations to our November Star Patient Winner Pepper H!
Pepper is a fourteen year old loving, protective, and sweet border collie. She enjoys biscuits, blankets, and long naps. Pepper loves spending time with her brother Jasper and showing the cats she is alpha dog. Her favorite season is winter because she likes to play in the snow and cuddle. Her hobbies include running around in the backyard with Jasper, walks, and birdwatching. Pepper’s favorite sports are soccer, frisbee, and (attempting to) herd Jasper. She is a pro at soccer and even knows how to volley the ball with her snout!
Congratulations Pepper for being our Star Patient winner. She is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our October Star Patient Winner Millie S!
"Millie is a 7 1/2 year old pure yellow lab with a sweet personality. She is very social and loves to meet and greet people when the family entertains. She loves to play defense in basketball and soccer and has even learned to use her nose to play pickleball! Millie is very calm and extremely considerate - it’s just amazing how she can navigate a floor filled with Legos and any other toy imaginable and never step on or knock anything over. She also really enjoys getting weighed at the pet clinic."
Congratulations Millie for being our Star Patient winner. She is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our September Star Patient Winner Charlie M!
"Charlie is a friendly feline about 10 years old who loves greeting people, friends and strangers alike, at the front door. His favorite pastimes are basking in sunbeams, kneading fuzzy blankets, jumping on his cat tree and of course, eating. You don't need a calendar to know when seasons change, because when chilly fall weather arrives he becomes a clingy lap cat; when summer returns he prefers to sleep solo."
Congratulations Charlie for being our Star Patient winner. He is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our August Star Patient Winner Kepa S!
"Kepa was born on August 20th, 2013, and adopted on December 14th, 2013. Since then, he has been the purrfect little edition to his mom and dad's lives. A polydactyl black cat by trade, Kepa uses his 'mittens' to open cupboards and doors (which scares his humans into thinking a ghost lives with them), but he's also a super sweet, lovable boy who loves to play with his sister, Stella, cuddle with us, and play fetch. Other favorite past times include tucking himself into beds, staring at birds, and playing soccer with his toys."
Congratulations Kepa for being our Star Patient winner. He is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our June Star Patient Winner-- Zuzu L!
"She was born on Christmas Day in 2010 and lives in Eagan with her family including half-sister Coco. Zuzu is a happy healthy Shih Tzu. She loves to go on walks as long as it is not too warm or cold out. Shih Tzu’s are happiest when it is 45 to 65 degrees out. If we ask Zuzu where her toy is, she will search around the house until she finds her favorite toy of that day. She will then wait for us to throw it so she can retrieve it! She thinks this is great fun and so do we. In the summer, Zuzu spends her free time on a boat kept on Lake Superior."
Congratulations Zuzu for being our Star Patient winner. She is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our March Star Patient Winner Bailey S!
Bailey's favorite thing is a green ball. If he's not chasing one, then he puts them in his food dish before eating and bed before sleeping. He does enjoy cuddling and is very talkative when greeting you.
Congratulations Bailey for being our Star Patient winner. He is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our February Star Patient Winner Bella Zucca R!
"My name is Bella (aka Pootie). I'm very spoiled and a ham for the camera. I can sit and shake my paw for a taste of milk or a lick of pepper jack cheese. Unless it's left unattended, of course!
And, when I go see Dr Yip at PKAH I like to make things easy for the staff to get my weight by going right to my favorite spot...the scale!"
Congratulations Bella for being our Star Patient winner. She is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our January Star Patient Winner Henry S!
"Henry is 6 years old but still has the spirit of a puppy. He loves people and being the center of attention! His favorite things to do are, play fetch, make friends, and have his belly rubbed. He also loves watching MN the Vikings. :)"
Congratulations Henry for being our Star Patient winner. He is now entered into our annual drawing for $50!
Congratulations to our yearly Star Patient Drawing Winner, Gracie T!
"Her full name is Amazing Grace.
In South Minneapolis, this kitten was following the postman during his mail delivery. She must have tired and decided to stay at the home of friends of mine. They live part of the year in Florida and couldn't keep her. They went through the neighborhood but didn't have luck with finding where Gracie had lived prior to choosing their place, so asked me if I wanted her. She has been with me for over 14 years.
Gracie remains as playful as when she was a kitten. Gracie loves treats and will flirt with anyone who may provide them to her.
Most nights she lays on the one of the pillows on my bed and I get to fall asleep to her purring. How nice for me."
Congratulations Gracie, you now have a $50 credit on your account!