Cat Disease: Hyperthyroidism – Part 3

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Dr. Jane Matheys is a veterinarian and blogger for cat insurance provider, Pets Best Insurance.

There are two other treatments available that actually cure the hyperthyroidism.

1. One of the possibilities is surgery to remove one or both of the thyroid lobes that sit right in the neck area about here. Now, this is something that used to be more common before we developed these other treatments. Surgery is not done very often anymore. It is much more invasive, of course. It does mean surgery in kind of a delicate area, and there are, potentially, some complications that can arise from that.

There is a second gland called a parathyroid gland that sits right on top of the thyroid gland, and you have to be very careful that you don’t upset that. Quite often, if you remove one thyroid gland, sometime down the line, you have to go back in for a second surgery and remove the second one because it becomes hyperthyroid also.


2. So really, at this stage, the actual gold standard and the most effective treatment and cure for hyperthyroidism is using what is called radioactive iodine treatment. Now, this sounds kind of scary. It sounds like, “Oh, my gosh. My kitty’s getting radiation.” But really it’s very good for the kitties.

What this entails is that the kitty is given an injection of radioactive iodine under the skin. Very simple, very noninvasive. The thyroid gland concentrates iodine, so that radioactive iodine goes to the thyroid gland and destroys the excess of tissue in the thyroid gland. So very simple in that regard. Again, this is the gold standard because it’s very noninvasive, and it is a curative.

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There are a few side effects that we potentially have to think about. In rare cases, the kitties can maybe get too much of that thyroid destroyed, and they can become hypothyroid, but that’s pretty rare. More commonly, there’s just a short period right after the iodine treatment where the kitties are hypothyroid, and that goes away on its own. Sometimes the kitties might not get enough of the radioactive iodine, and so they need a second treatment. But, again, those side effects are pretty rare. In most cases, the kitties are cured, and you never have to give your cats any more medication for the rest of its life.

The other drawback, though, with the radioactive iodine is that it’s only done at a certain, specific treatment centers throughout the country, and the kitties have to stay there for several days while the radioactivity of their urine and feces decreases.

So definitely, you want to check with your veterinarian and see if that’s a possible option for you in your area, or if you might have to travel a little ways to get that done. But for almost all kitty-cats, the radioactive iodine therapy is the treatment of choice.

I hope that can answer some questions for you as to what to do for your kitties that you’re having trouble with at this point. If you have any other questions, please leave comments in the section below or visit the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page. See you next time.

This is post 3, of a 3 part series. View Cat Disease: Hyperthyroidism – Part 1 here. And Cat Disease: Hyperthyroidism – Part 2 here.

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