Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Life with Jack
As most of you know, for the past couple of years we have had to deal with inappropriate elimination with Jack. I still firmly believe that some treats that were made in China had something to do with it, as the correlation was way too strong.
Last summer we took yet another trip to yet another vet for inappropriate elimination (peeing on the heater in the bathroom and on the front of the washing machine) in hopes to ward off his blocking again. This time the vet recommended a full blood panel. Jack was 12 at the time so it was well worth doing a senior panel and it had been a while since he had a regular vet, so I agreed.
That blood work came back that Jack had a higher than normal thyroid level. It was not obnoxiously high, 5.2 or 5.4 when the high reference was 4.7 (0.8-4.7 being the normal range). It was recommended we put him on thyroid medication and see what happened.
Well except for a few more incidents right at the beginning he has been pretty much (but not completely) inappropriate pee free since.
Pilling him was easy, but I could tell that he was bothered by it. I tried offering it to him in treats but the pills were bitter and it was hard to hide it in food. I decided to crunch the numbers and see if I could afford I131 - the radioactive iodine treatment which is the 'gold standard' for treating hyperthyroid issues. The radioactive iodine when done right kills off the high functioning cells of the tumor that is pumping out excessive thyroid hormones while leaving the healthy tissue alone. I realized that buying pills from my vet I would be ahead of the financial game if Jack lived three to four years longer. I could find cheaper sources of the pills which would bring that number out longer, but I would still have to force pills down Jack's throat twice a day. To me, there was a price I was willing to pay to not have to do that to him.
Deciding to inject your cat with radioactive substances is not an easy one. This is one of those things that you are told to avoid at all costs. Then you are bombarded with how you need to keep your cat isolated and his waste is so radioactive that you need to keep it isolated for 90 days. I'll admit, I was more than a little freaked out; but then I pilled Jack and he looked at me like I had just betrayed him and I started looking for a place to perform the procedure.
I had three semi local options. One about half an hour away one about an hour and a half away, and one in town Boston. I researched what would be the best option for Jack. Getting the thyroid scanned would give the most accurate dosing level. Some clinics dose on the weight of the cat, some dose on the level of thyroid dysfunction, and some do the scan and know exactly how much should be given. Only one clinic scanned and was willing to take a higher risk cat - which Jack is with his history of blocking; we went to Angell in Boston.
We did the treatment while I was out of town at Barkworld. We picked him up as I was coming home. I had done some research on the levels of radiation that Jack would be emitting post treatment and I realized that it was pretty minimal. They want you to be extra cautious because it is hard to know what a person's radiation exposure will be in a lifetime and it is better to keep it as low as possible. I decided I have very little exposure in my life. I don't travel by plane all that much, I broke my leg in the 8th grade and that was the last time I had an xray save for some dental xrays. So other than discouraging Jack from licking me (which was oh so hard since he just recently started licking my nose to tell me he loves me) I decided I was not going to exclude him from my life. He slept on my bed, we snuggled, I kissed him regularly.
It was recommended that I test him one month post treatment and three months post treatment. One month post his thyroid level was 1.9 (ref 0.8-4.7). I was a little concerned this was a little low but I knew we had just really started on this journey. For the most part Jack has been acting like a 12/13 yr old cat. Sometimes he seems 'poopy' to me, but all I need to do is talk to him and he perks right up and chats with me and he is interactive (aka asking for cookies). His fur has also been less than perfect with a smattering of small matts showing up where they never did before. About a month ago I was afraid that he might have something else wrong because he seemed to be in pain due to the way he was standing with his feet slightly closer together and his back slightly arched (no, my husband didn't see it). A trip to the vet didn't show anything and over the next few weeks he seems to be getting over it. I still constantly worry about his urinary PH. I do not know why but a lot of my cats have urinary PH of 7.0. Considering how much raw meat they are eating and how few plants, their urine should be closer to 6.0. To help him deal with this I still occasionally give him a pill created for optimal urinary health that helps acidify his urine.
I just took him to the vet for his post three months (yes, a bit late) and this time his thyroid level was 1.4 (ref: 0.8-4.7) which concerns me a bit. Because of his age, I would feel more comfortable if his level was closer to if not slightly above 2.0. I would also be more comfortable if his level wasn't going down. I emailed Angell last night to see what they make of his levels and see if they make any recommendations. I am not unhappy with these numbers, just slightly concerned so I thought I would ask.
Jack is still "frickin amazing" and he makes me smile every single day. Yesterday he stole one of the hairball relief tablets I bought for Fleurp (in case her anemia has ANYTHING to do with the major shed she goes through each spring) when it fell out of the container when I took the cotton out of the jar. He liked it so much that a few minutes later he nosed the container right off the counter hoping it would pop open when it fell and he could steal some more. When it didn't work, he threw a few other things off the counter hoping to hit the bottle and have it pop open.. since this method has worked for him in the past.
I seriously love that boy of mine.