When faced with feline hyperthyroidism, there are two types of treatments—those that affect a cure and those that simply attempt to control the symptoms. While 98% of cats start out with a benign growth, the growth may become malignant if the symptoms are treated but the disease is not cured.
Options for a cure include
- Radioactive iodine (I 131) – Radioactive iodine is universally considered the “gold standard” of care, usually resulting in a cure within 1-3 months. Treatment involves a simple injection similar to a routine vaccine.
- Surgery – Abnormal thyroid tissue can often be identified and removed surgically, resulting in a cure. Special imaging studies can indicate if surgery will be successful, although this imaging is not widely available. Surgery requires unnecessary risks including general anesthesia and complications that can sometimes prove life-threatening.
Options designed to control symptoms include
- Medications – Symptoms can sometimes be controlled by daily medications for the rest of your cat’s life. Although generally safe, severe side effects can occur, including liver and bone marrow conditions. Medications do not address the potential for benign tissue to become malignant.
- Diet – A relatively new approach to controlling symptoms includes feeding a strict iodine-restricted diet, exclusive of all other foods and treats. It may even become necessary to provide special iodine-free water. Diet therapy is not appropriate for cats that go outside or live with other cats not following the diet. Even small deviations from the diet will result in a treatment failure.
Dr. Paul Howard of the VVC Richmond has been administering I 131 therapy since 2003. His location is among the elite hospitals nationwide licensed to provide this service.
Prior to treatment, Dr. Howard will review all requested information provided by your primary care veterinarian and take time to examine your cat. He’ll talk with you to be sure that you understand goals and expectations and that all your questions have been addressed prior to treatment.