What To Expect

Your cat’s I-131 injection will be prepared by a nuclear pharmacist, and sent to us the day of their appointment and admission to our hospital.

We will give the injection like one would a vaccine, i.e., subcutaneously (under the skin). We do not need to inject the thyroid tumor (s) directly; the I-131 will enter the blood stream, and is then taken up by the thyroid tumor(s).

The morning after we give the I-131, we will begin measuring your cat’s radiation discharge rate. We will call you every morning to let you know how your cat is doing, and whether they may legally leave our facility. Longer stays in cats given higher doses indicate optimal uptake and binding of the I-131 to the abnormal cells. We will not know your cat’s outcome until the rechecks in 1 and 3 months post I-131.

Supportive Care

Our patients are usually geriatric, and often debilitated from chronic thyroid disease as well as other ongoing illnesses, such as kidney degeneration or inflammatory bowel disease. They are essentially intensive care patients, requiring continual monitoring and treatment of symptoms that could impact their comfort or stability.

Treatments may include anxiolytics (to reduce anxiety), anti-emetics ( to reduce nausea), appetite stimulants, vitamins, probiotics and Imodium® for diarrhea, and subcutaneous fluids (for dehydration). Some cats need blood pressure or cardiac medications to lessen the risk of a cardiac event. Their needs may change from one day to the next.

We will absorb the cost of many of these additional treatments, with the exception of some injections, fluids, or dispensed meds.

We will give you an update on the phone every morning, with an overview. We will spare you the details of every little adjustment in nursing care, but keep you apprised of significant issues.

Your cat may seem a little woozy the day they return home. This is typically due to the anti-anxiety medications, but could also be an effect of an appetite stimulant or medication for nausea. These are not true medication ‘reactions’ or ‘sensitivities’, and are temporary. Even the stress of being away from home and traveling in a car could cause them to be ‘off kilter’ for a day or two.

The radiation causes NO side effects, so any abnormal signs may be due to the thyroid disease, which takes time to go away, or other non-thyroidal issues. If your cat is eating pretty well, and the signs do not seem extreme, give it a day. If signs seem serious, such as undue vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing or lethargy, contact your primary veterinarian. They will help with ongoing care and address other problems that are unrelated to thyroid disease.

In addition to any medications you may have brought from home, we will provide you with a list of any medications we give you cat during their stay with us.

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