We have two British short-haired cats, both queens, and they are sisters. Max and Milly were born on the 1st September 2004 and have totally different characters. Max is very lady like and likes peace and quiet, Milly on the other hand, likes to sit in the middle of the lawn in the rain and will bring home frogs and worms and leave them around the house. Milly loves to chase shadows and light spots and gets very excited when the sun comes out, whereas Max will walk around demurely and look at Milly as if she is an idiot. They get on most of the time but every now and then they will fight and then both go off and sulk, usually with Milly carrying a clump of Max’s fur in her mouth!
In September/October 2014 Milly started over-grooming her back, Max has allergies to dust mites and clover pollen so has always over-groomed her stomach which has left it fur-free for nine years, we thought Milly may have developed something similar. Milly, has been sick on occasion and this would be liquidy and usually have grass in it, which we put down to the disgusting things she liked to eat. We took both cats to our veterinary practice where they found a couple of fleas and flea dust on both cats. They were both given injections to kill off the fleas and their eggs. They were also wormed whilst we were there and given a good scratch behind their ears to try and take their minds off what was being done to them.
Over the next couple of months both cats seem to be over-grooming less so we thought that the problem was solved. However, in January/February, we noticed that Milly’s fur was being over-groomed again in the same place as before. Max’s stomach fur was growing back, which considering she had been bald in that area for several years was remarkable. We took Milly back to the vet and they gave her a full examination. The vet noticed that Milly had a lump in her neck, a goitre, her fur was being over groomed on her back, she was still being sick on occasion, but this had become dry and contained fur and we told the vet that Milly had become very active and she would race around the house, running into cupboards, doors and skidding along the floors. She was also eating a lot more and would ask for more when she had just emptied her bowl. The vet weighed Milly and she was approximately 3.4kg, which was less that her usual 3.8kg. Milly was also found to have a heart murmur. The vet asked us to monitor Milly over the next few weeks and that if she started to lose more weight to bring her back in for blood tests.
Over the next few weeks Milly’s appetite grew, her over-grooming became more intense to the point where we could see her skin and she continued to race around the house at an alarming speed. She would go running out of the cat flap for no apparent reason, whether she needed to go to the toilet quickly, we don’t know. We took her back to the vets and they said that they would need to take blood tests as all the evidence pointed to hyperthyroidism. We took Milly back for the tests and the vet phoned a few days later to say that Milly did indeed have hyperthyroidism. The vet outlined a number of options; tablets, which would have been impossible as it is extremely difficult getting any tablets into Milly and to try to do that twice a day would be very distressing and with the possibility that
she might not take them at all if disguised in her food. An operation, which would be unpleasant and then she would still have to have tablets. Radio-iodine treatment, which is a one off treatment (for the majority of cases) was another option. The vet gave us an information pack on the radio-iodine treatment so we could make a decision. We discussed the pros and cons and decided that the radioiodine treatment would be the best option for Milly. We have pet plan insurance which is a massive plus but even if that was not the case we would have still opted for the radio-iodine treatment.
The vet contacted the Hyperthyroid Cat Centre (HCC) and they contacted us to discuss Milly and her symptoms. We were given full details of the treatment and also other options that were available. The HCC received the results of blood tests for Milly and we discussed these and what each result meant. We agreed on the date for Milly to have her treatment and we set about creating a quarantine area for Milly for when she returned home. There were some tests that had to be carried out at the vets prior to Milly going to the HCC and these were done at the vets as trying to get a urine sample from Milly would have been impossible for us!
Milly was not allowed to eat the night before the journey and was not allowed a drink on the next morning so that her treatment could be started that day. Because we have two cats that meant that Max would have to be starved too. We did feed Max as soon as Milly was safely installed in the car. Because of the long car journey, we used a feliway spray in the pet carrier to try and keep her calm as it was the longest journey Milly has had in the car; usually it is 10 minutes to the vets. She did meow quite a bit at first but then found that she calmed down if we did not have the radio on. When got to the HCC we were welcomed by Dr Andrew Bodey and his team, and were given tea and cakes, which after a long journey was very welcome. We discussed with the team what would happen to Milly and could ask questions at any point. We were asked what Milly was like, what her favourite foods were, was she a friendly cat and where she liked to be scratched, so that they could make Milly feel at home.
Dr Andrew Bodey examined Milly to make sure that her condition had not changed and that she was still eligible to have the procedure. We finished off the paperwork and then it was time to leave. We were told that we would be contacted every day to let us know how Milly was getting on and then we left.
We received a phone call later that day to say that Milly had had her treatment and that she was a bit bewildered as to where she and had plonked herself in the cat litter tray! Typical Milly. Every day we received a phone call to let us know how Milly was doing and how she was settling in, even on the weekend and bank holiday. During this time Max was a bit lost for a while, waiting at the cat flap for Milly to come home and waiting for her when it was feeding time. She became like a shadow and followed us everywhere and when we sat down she would sit in between us.
After nine days Milly was allowed home. When we arrived at the HCC there was tea and cakes ready, and much needed. We discussed how Milly had responded to the treatment and also the aftercare which is very important for the family to hear as this involves everyone in the household and those that come to visit. We were then allowed to see Milly. She was ready in her pet carrier and started to meow when she saw us. Dr Bodey showed us with a Geiger counter how radioactive Milly was when at certain distances from her so that we would know how far away we had to keep from her, when possible. Although radio-active, Milly was at safe enough levels to return home. When we were loading her in the car we had to ensure the distance between us and Milly was as far as possible, we took out the parcel shelf and flattened the back seats so that the pet carrier could be tied to the very end of the boot. A pad was put in front of the pet carrier in case Milly was sick. We thanked Dr Bodey and his team and made our way home.
Milly’s home for the first two weeks was a pet cage that we had borrowed from a friend who uses it occasionally for her dog. In the cage we put puppy pads, a litter tray, her feeding bowls and one of our jumpers so that she would be near our smell. The cage was kept in a spare room and there are no children in the house so this was a prime place to put her. We bought single use rubber gloves and opted for the non-flushable cat litter as our drains become blocked very easily and to have a radioactive blockage would have been a nightmare. We have the old style bins with lids and in one of these the waste and disposable items were put for four weeks until the radiation was negligible and safe to put in the general waste. The bin is kept in a brick outhouse so that it is away from other animals.
The first couple of days home were a mixture of spending our time, sorting out Milly, making sure Max had attention and sorting out the rabbit (Molly). The first night we kept the bedroom door shut to Milly’s room but she meowed quite a lot. The second night we left the bedroom door open and she settled down. We alternated the times we went into Milly so that she did not get into a routine of expecting us and getting fretful if we did not appear. Max went and visited Milly and had a sniff at her then walked off, obviously not too bothered about her being back. Milly on the other hand meowed at her and pawed at her and began purring.
We noticed over the first couple of days that Milly’s fur looked greasy but that she was a lot calmer, she purred when we went into see her and meowed at us as she would normally. Within 4-5 days we noticed that Milly had put on weight, she no longer had the thin, bedraggled look, and her fur started to look less greasy.
After two weeks Milly had put on weight and her fur on her back was growing back well. There was no longer a bald patch and she was getting very impatient to be let out. When we have had to clean the cage because of the odd mishaps with the litter tray she tried to sit on our lap and it was hard to stop her from doing this but it had to be done.
We are now on six weeks after treatment and Milly has been allowed out of the house for the last couple of weeks. She was very clingy at first and followed us everywhere, when we went upstairs she would run back into the bedroom she has been in for the first two weeks. During the night Max and Milly have been locked in the kitchen and have both settled into this routine. Milly and Max are getting on as they did before and Milly appears to be calmer. She still has a mad moment when she runs up the stairs and into ‘her’ bedroom. Her weight is increasing and her fur has lost the greasy look and is now thicker and smoother. She has been sick once, fur ball we think, and has a good appetite but not excessive as it was before treatment.
Both cats seem settled and they are both drinking and feeding as they did before. Milly still purrs and likes to be even closer to us, whenever I sit down she has to be near me. She is still very chatty and does not race around the house as she did before the treatment.
Milly is due to go back to the vets tomorrow for her six week check so fingers crossed everything is fine.
Please feel free to use this ‘diary’ and pictures to show other owners.
Many thanks for all your treatment and kindness.
Milly still purrs and likes to be even closer to us, whenever I sit down she has to be near me. She is still very chatty and does not race around the house as she did before the treatment.