Sunday, June 21, 2009

Radioactive Kitty

We had a little scare recently with our oldest cat, Truman. He's about 12 years old, which isn't really ancient in cat terms. He's been losing weight over the last several months and we just assumed it was old age. But, he kept getting skinnier and skinnier, and then we found a lump on his shoulder. So, I schlepped him to the vet worried that he had a big problem.

As it turns out, the lump was nothing other than a little spot under his skin. But, the weight loss was a concern. The vet was able to visibly diagnose hyperthyroidism and then confirmed the diagnosis with blood work. She was pretty convinced we had caught it in time and that with treatment Truman would be OK.

The treatment is what turned Truman into radioactive kitty. As in humans, the treatment is an injection with 131I, a radioactive iodine isotope. We dropped him off on Thursday and they had to keep him until Saturday, when his radiation levels fell below a state-mandated level. In reality the amount of radiation is not enough to harm anyone, but they want to limit the lifetime exposure in humans and don't want to add to the total too much.

In any event, the iodine is supposed to shrink the malformed tissue in his thyroid which means the good tissue can take over the function again. According to our vet and the vet who did the treatment, he should respond well. They both seemed to think that he was a great candidate. If/when responds he should put back on some weight and have a lot more energy. I'm hopeful that he'll respond. We should see some changes pretty quickly.

As for the radioactivity, we have to make sure we flush his litter for the next two weeks, or store it for 80 days. We're definitely going to flush it since I have no desire to keep a collection of kitty roca for 80 days until we can safely dispose of it. We're also not supposed to spend more than an hour a day of physical contact with him for the next two weeks. I've not checked yet to see if he glows in the dark. That would be a nice bonus if he did...

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