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Put cat through two operations or not?

(11 Posts)
snowgirl1 Thu 17-Apr-14 13:33:57

My cat is 14 years old and has recently developed hyperthyroidism (eats and drinks lots, but losing weight).

The vet advised there were three options:
- special food (which has something in it)
- pill each day
- operation

We've tried the special diet. He ate the food (reluctantly) for a while, as long as it was mixed with a bit of 'normal' food. Then he just stopped eating the food, so I've had to switch him back to normal food or he would've starved.

So the options are pills every day or an operation. We've had to give him pills once before for a week (I think). Was a nightmare - he hated it, and scratched and lashed out. It required him being pinned down under a towel, virtually sat upon and his mouth being forced open. Stressful and distressing for us and the cat.

Next option is an operation to remove his thyroid. Only he HATES going to the vet. They have to sedate him to just do a basic examination as he turns into a snarling beast. There are two thyroid glands. When they remove the gland, there's a risk of them nicking something else which can cause problems so they like to remove one gland at a time. This means two operations, with a least one trip to the vet in between. Even then, he could end up having to have a pill a day as he could end up with too little/much thyroid after the operation.

I think I'm inclined to just let him enjoy what life he's got left, without the trauma of giving him a pill or having operations. Is that cruel? Should I try to continue to get his condition treated?

LaurieFairyCake Thu 17-Apr-14 13:37:19

We've been giving the thyroxine for 3 years and it's kept her going - without it they get very ill very quickly. She was also rubbish at pills at the start but is fine now. She screamed for food constantly and got very thin before diagnoses.

If you can't do the pills he will get into pain too quickly so it may be better to put him down.

Is the operation expensive - once sedated he will be fine won't he?

cozietoesie Thu 17-Apr-14 13:51:47

I think you need a vet's view on this, OP, but I seem to recall an experienced vet who posts here saying that that operation was a real quick one and very successful. Maybe she'll comment. (I hope she does, in case I've misremembered.)

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 17-Apr-14 13:54:20

First there is a fourth option radioactive iodine treatment.
There are vets who will do both thyroids as one surgery (in fact I do) there are advantages and disadvantages to this.
I do the thyroid surgery as I say and my beautiful moggy girl had the surgery, however, if I had another cat with hypothyroidism I would have the radioactive iodine treatment now.

snowgirl1 Thu 17-Apr-14 13:56:55

We've another cat that's also got hyperthyroidism and has been on pills for a couple of years. She didn't like the pills much - but has got used to them.

But the 14 year old cat is worse than a nightmare to give pills to - it got to the point that the cat was hiding as soon as DH came home as he was afraid of being given a pill - if anything he reacted worse each day we gave him a pill. I really don't think pills are an option - I think he's likely to have heart failure (or runaway) if we have to give him a pill everyday.

It's not about how expensive the operation is, but the stress repeated visits to the vet will cause him. Maybe putting him down is the best option sad

snowgirl1 Thu 17-Apr-14 14:01:31

Thanks Lonecat. I've got the cat booked into the vet to go through the options, so will talk to her about the radioactive treatment or doing the operation in one go. He's been with me through so much I don't want to lose him, but don't want to be selfish and put him through loads of stress.

cozietoesie Thu 17-Apr-14 14:08:28

I don't think I could have faced putting Seniorboy through daily pills - he simply will not take them and never has. I do, however, think I would have considered the other two options even with a 14 year old cat. Seniorboy had to have a full (and pretty lengthy) GA dental with add-on (a lump excision) at 16 and came through it fine - and is still soldiering on happily at 19 now.

Good luck at the vets.

snowgirl1 Thu 17-Apr-14 14:08:50

Oh no, doesn't sound like radioactive treatment's going to be an option - looked it up on-line and the Royal Veterinary College website says their Queen Mother Hospital for animals does the treatment but "Your cat must be reasonably well behaved. Many cats with hyperthyroidism can be a bit tetchy so your cat does not have to be an angel, but we cannot treat cats that will try to attack us as we care for them.". Our cat is very likely to try to attack, that's why the vet has to sedate him for examinations sad

cozietoesie Thu 17-Apr-14 14:11:45

That still leaves the op as a pretty good option though? (And once he's under, he would be fine.)

snowgirl1 Thu 17-Apr-14 14:14:36

Yes, think I'll talk to the vet about doing the operation in one go.

timtam23 Thu 17-Apr-14 20:55:06

My cat developed hyperthyroidism aged 16 - we tried tablets first (Felimazole) which he absolutely hated taking, he has always been a nightmare to get tablets into. Unfortunately he developed a serious blood problem which is a recognised side effect of the tablets, and we couldn't continue. So we went ahead with option B which was the operation. The vet was really reassuring, saying that the thyroid op was one of their most common ops and the vast majority of them were done on elderly cats - so although in theory a higher risk op they were experienced in doing them and they were quite quick operations to do, usually. He also said it is usually only 1 side of the gland which is enlarged so he would remove only that side at operation and try to preserve the other glands near the thyroid (parathyroid glands)

The op went really well although the parathyroid glands couldn't be saved - this was not relevant at the time but would have been important if we had ever needed to talk about having the other side of the thyroid gland removed. The cat was in for the pre op check early morning and I picked him up on my way home from work that evening, he was absolutely fine apart from having a shaved neck/chest! It has been really great not having to give him tablets any more (he now needs tablets for high blood pressure but they can be crushed, which the thyroid ones couldn't).

I would definitely say the op is worth serious consideration - for a much younger cat I would have maybe thought about radioiodine, but not for an old boy like mine. Also for the radioiodine they may have to be put to sleep if significant health problems develop during the time when they are in quarantine post-treatment because they cannot be handled as normal (not sure if this still applies but it was in the info my vet gave me a couple of years ago)

The vet would have been willing to try the food but we held it back a sa last resort and haven't tried it yet (would have been a bit difficult to manage as we have more than 1 cat and they all eat out of each other's food bowls)

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