What causes hyperthyroidism in cats?

Cats can develop a benign tumour in their thyroid gland, which excretes an excess of thyroid hormone causing metabolic changes in the patient. If untreated this can lead to profound weight loss, heart problems and death.

Why use radioactive iodine to treat this disease?

Traditionally cats would be treated with daily (sometimes even two or three times) medication in the form of a tablet or gel to control the disease. The aim of I-131 treatment is to kill the tumour and cure your cat of the disease so that they no longer require daily medications.

How does it work?

The I-131 is rapidly absorbed by the thyroid tumour, where it kills the tumour cells as it decays. The radiation is excreted from the treated cat’s body over the next few weeks.

Is it safe?

Using I-131 involves careful handling of a radioactive substance, so there are some rules to follow, but the treatment is very safe for both the patient and the owner as long as these restrictions are adhered to. After all, the same treatment is used in humans to treat the same disease in many cases.

What is involved in treatment?

Cats are admitted to our licensed facility for treatment. They receive a light sedation before taking a capsule of I-131. They are then hospitalized for 8-12d typically, until their radiation level is safe to go home.

What about homecare?

Once home, treated cats continue to emit low levels of radiation for a short time. We supply owners with detailed instructions regarding specific care at home for the 2 weeks following discharge, such as management of litter trays and some restrictions on physical contact.

Patients have their thyroid levels rechecked a month or so after treatment, to ensure their disease is cured. The treatment has around a 99% success rate.

Contact us at Mawson Lakes Vet Hospital if you want to learn more about I-131 treatment.