By: Arden Moore
Indoor cats – guaranteed to be free of risks from illness and injury, right? Wrong. For 12 years, I have jokingly regarded my calico cat, Callie, as a “cheap date.” The reason? For a dozen years, all I’ve need to spend on her was routine needs – food, treats, bedding, toys and annual veterinary exams. She was the poster cat for feline health.
She has spent her life indoors since I adopted her as a tiny kitten found running the streets of Miami. She goes outside to my fenced backyard, supervised by me, and she strolls back into the house when I say, “Callie, inside.”
For the past few years, however, her belly has grown and I nicknamed her “Calorie.” I knew she wasn’t to blame for the added weight. She wasn’t raiding the refrigerator at night while I was asleep or pilfering food from the dogs’ bowls. The blame belonged to me because I wasn’t paying attention to her food portions.
But a couple months ago, I noticed that Callie was slimming down. It’s natural to take credit for this fit feline look, but I knew unexplained weight loss often signals a silent health condition.
My veterinarian confirmed my thoughts: Callie was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, a silent disease that strikes middle-aged and senior cats. It is caused by a benign tumor in one or both of a cat’s thyroid glands, which in turn, causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Unchecked, it can trigger hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a disease that causes a thickening of the heart) and damage the kidneys and eyes.
The best option for curing this condition is a pricey radioactive iodine injection. The total cost for this procedure, necessary tests, medications and hospitalization tops $1,400. Ouch. But this is one feline disease that has a real cure.
Callie is definitely worth this investment, and she recently returned from a week’s stay at a veterinary imaging center. During that week, I received daily updates on her recovery and was able to “tune in” and see her through a Web cam accessible on my computer.
It turns out that only one of her thyroids was affected by this disease and now she is happy being back at home. She is displaying renewed kitten-like energy and purrs longer and louder.
That hefty veterinary bill reminded me of the importance of getting pet insurance. At the time, I only had policies covering my two dogs. Callie’s pricey “vacation” convinced me to obtain insurance for my cat, Murphy, age 7. Due to Callie’s senior status and the hyperthyroidism diagnosis, the only insurance available for her would cover in case of an accident – not an illness.
Please learn from my experience and obtain insurance policies on your cats. As I’ve learned, even indoor cats are not insulated from disease.