I-131

Nope, that’s not the title of Geoff’s favorite WWII era submarine movie, it’s the radioactive iodine that’s going to be used to treat Smoky for his extreme hyperthyroidism.

Smoky is, in short, a medical disaster.  He was an adorable little 6 week old kitten when I adopted him from a rescue adopt-a-thon lo those many years ago.  He and his littermates weaned early because his mom had an upper repiratory infection.  I had gone to the Petsmart with my friend knowing that Bucky needed a new friend but not intending to get one there.  (In fact, I had no idea there was an event going on, she just needed dog food.)  Bucky needed either an adult female or a kitten male.  I really wanted an adult female.  In fact, I wanted Smoky’s mom, but the infection knocked her out of contention, I couldn’t take a sick cat home to a well cat, that was a recipe for disaster.  Smoky was the last of the litter not already spoken for and he was a tuxedo cat.  I grew up with a tuxedo cat and so I was instantly smitten.  When he crawled into my palm and immediately fell asleep purring, I was sold.

What I didn’t know, and it would not have changed my mind, was that Smoky was from the extreme shallow end of the gene pool.  Like, he maybe got a toe wet in said pool.  Over the years he’s been diagnosed with: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, periodontal disease, gingivitis, acne, male pattern baldness, allergies, an anxiety disorder, hyperthyroidism, and possibly OCD.

Seriously.

He’s been on thyroid medication and an antihistamine for years.  He gets his teeth cleaned regularly but still has gingivitis and has managed to lose a tooth anyway.  His thyroid has been under control, with minor medication adjustments, except for the last 6-8 months.  His goiter (did I mention that?  He has one of those, too) has grown and his T4 levels have been so extreme that, well, they should be under 5 and they’re regularly clocking in at 20+.

This is causing liver damage, elevated liver enzymes, increased thirst, increased urine output, and a cat who’s losing weight.  He’s at an ok weight, he doesn’t need to lose a pound every 3 months.

We can’t really raise his thyroid meds any higher than they already are, so we’re left with I-131.  It’s an inpatient procedure that leaves Smoky irradiated for about a week.  It’s good that Geoff has all that rocket science experience, we’re going to need it when Smoky gets home.  We’ll have to use special litter, we’ll have to keep him away from the other animals, and we’ll have to limit our exposure to him so we don’t get too much radiation.

We’re saving up the funds for the procedure, this is a rather pricey thing, but it’s the only option to keep him alive and happy.  The good news is that the procedure costs half what it did when Smoky was first diagnosed and it used to require about 4 weeks in the hospital.  Smoky would have gone absolutely nuts with a hospital stay that long, he does not handle change that well.  I think he’ll be able to handle a week in the hospital.  At least, I hope.

Here, for your edification, is a photo of Smoky before he lost a lot of his hair.

Lookit me!  I'm a handsome devil!
Smoky has always been really photogenic.

~Kelly

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