Joy, a 10-year-old fluffy feline beauty, was diagnosed with feline hyperthyroidism in August 2020. She was immediately placed on medication to help control her thyroid, which was getting worse due to a pre-existing heart condition.
But shortly after, the vet learned Joy was allergic to the meds and was placed on a no-iodine diet, which unfortunately was not effective.
By October 2020, it became evident that the last resort to save Joy was I-131 radiation iodine treatment. That’s when Joy’s pet parent, who was experiencing a financial crisis due to COVID, reached out to Phinney’s for help.
In December 2020, Phinney’s helped pay for Joy’s I-131 radioactive iodine therapy treatment—an overall effective but costly treatment designed to destroy tumor cells causing an abnormal amount of thyroid hormone production.
Joy’s Road to Recovery
Joy’s hyperthyroidism was putting stress on other organs, which can be one of several serious consequences to feline hyperthyroidism along with weight loss, elevated heart rate, heart murmurs, and arrhythmias, according to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Since Joy already had heart disease, the vet was hopeful that a course of I-131 radiation iodine treatment could make a positive impact on her quality of life.
So, off Joy went to Angell Animal Medical Center (Angell). And the treatment, which Angell states generally has a 95 to 98 percent success rate, worked for Joy. A recent recheck showed her thyroid levels are now normal. “You saved her life,” Joy’s pet parent wrote in a note to Phinney’s. “I’m truly grateful,” she added.
A Closer Look at I-131 Treatment
Joy was hospitalized for a few days on a limited-access ward staffed by personnel especially trained to work with the radioactive materials. The space was equipped with high-flow air ventilation, similar to that in a surgical suite, designed to minimize the risk of upper respiratory infection spread. There is a chance that another I-131 treatment or thyroid supplements may be needed if a cat’s normal thyroid function does not return within three to six months after the iodine treatment. But given Joy’s prognosis, it’s unlikely she will need it, according to the vet.