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Ask Boo

Dear Boo:

When I was at Cat Hospital the other day getting my annual examination and vaccinations, I heard people saying we felines will be able to get radioactive iodine treatments there next year. This sounds very scary—is it true or is the rumor mill churning out falsehoods?

– Very Concerned Kitty

My Dear Concerned:

First, congrats on getting your annual examination and vaccinations! Clearly, your humans are dedicated to ensuring your continued good health in the New Year! Now, on to your question…

While the news you heard is true, there is absolutely no need to worry your pretty little head! The new treatment is a wonderful thing for our fellow felines with hyperthyroidism, and it will make them and their pet parents very happy!

In January, Cat Hospital will become the only veterinary facility in Chicago to offer radioactive iodine treatment for cats with hyperthyroidism! Previously, felines had to travel to the suburbs for radioactive iodine therapy—and what an inconvenience THAT was!

As you may know, hyperthyroidism is characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland, overproduction of thyroid hormone and an increase in the metabolic rate. Many organs are affected by hyperthyroidism, including the heart, which begins to pump faster and more forcefully, which eventually causes it to enlarge. The increased output of blood from the heart may lead to high blood pressure and, in some cases, heart failure. The liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract are also susceptible to damage by overproduction of thyroid hormone.

The condition is fairly common in senior cats. Most cases are benign—less than 1 percent of cats with hyperthyroidism have cancerous growths on the thyroid gland—so treatment is usually successful. In addition to radioactive iodine therapy, treatment options include medical management through oral medication, dietary management and surgery to remove the affected thyroid glands.

Radioactive iodine therapy, also known as iodine-131 treatment, or I 131, is the most effective and least invasive way to destroy the entire abnormal thyroid. It almost always cures hyperthyroidism and may even eradicate malignant thyroid tumors! Although the recommended treatment type depends on the individual patient, for younger and middle age cats, veterinarians often recommend radioactive iodine therapy rather than life-long medication.

With radioiodine treatment, hyperthyroid cats avoid surgery, anesthesia and anti-thyroid drugs. The radioactive iodine is administered by a single oral capsule. After treatment, cats must be hospitalized for four to five days (because of the level of radioactivity in the urine and stool). But worry not, hyperthyroid kitties! Cat Hospital is having luxury cage suites built to ensure that its I 131 patients are housed in the most cat-friendly way, offering them privacy, comfy bedding and benches on which to perch. They also hope to install camera monitors in the I 131 area so that the doctors and technicians can monitor the kitties. Pet parents of felines receiving I 131 treatment will able to key an eye on them as well!

The majority of cats will have normal hormone levels within several weeks of treatment.

Veterinary clinics must be licensed to administer radiation therapy and must have a facility that meets numerous state requirements. The treatment room at Cat Hospital is scheduled to be completed this month and operational in early 2017.

So there you go! What might sound scary at first is actually a wonderful new way Cat Hospital is providing the highest-quality veterinary care to Chicago-area cats and their owners. While I certainly hope you never develop hyperthyroidism, now you know that if you do, there’s an excellent treatment option right here!


– Boo

Email your questions to Ask Boo

Boo Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2017, my furry friends! It’s me again, Boo, here with some suggestions to get your year off to a claw-some start. I call them my Boo Year’s Resolutions...

Watch your weight. Carrying even a couple of extra pounds can be a health hazard for a cat, creating a higher risk for diabetes, urinary tract disease, fatty liver disease, arthritis, cancer and other diseases. Your Cat Hospital veterinarian can tell your ideal weight based on your age and frame, and provide weight-loss tips.
Stay active. Fend off weight gain and those nasty health issues related to it by staying active. Encourage your humans to help you burn calories and keep you entertained with a variety of toys appropriate for your age and playtime preferences (direct your humans to Treats & Tidbits, Fall 2016 for help picking the toys for you), cat trees and window perches (for keeping an eye on neighborhood happenings and bird watching).
Get chipped. If you don’t have a microchip, get one. You might never intend to wander outside of your home, but accidents do happen sometimes. Having a microchip will help you to be returned home more easily than you would without one. Trust me, it’s great to have that peace of mind.
Get spayed or neutered. In addition to help controlling pet overpopulation, getting spayed or neutered offers definite health benefits. Non-spayed females face an increased risk for mammary tumors, uterine infections, and uterine and ovarian cancers, and intact male cats have an increased risk for testicular tumors and infections. Plus, intact males are more likely to mark their territory by spraying urine, which tends to annoy our human housemates.
Stay current on vaccinations. The kind veterinarians at Cat Hospital of Chicago recommend that every cat stay current for two core vaccines—the combination FVR-CP vaccine and the rabies vaccine—even for indoor cats that have no contact with other animals. Plus, the rabies vaccination is required by law for all cats in Cook County and surrounding counties.
Protect against parasites. Years ago, veterinarians recommended giving cats parasite preventive medicine from April through the year’s first frost. The new guidelines call for year-round treatment for parasite prevention. Preventives can guard against heartworm (from mosquito bites) or hookworms and roundworms (from flea bites). Plus, treatment helps to protect your human family from catching parasites—like hookworms and roundworms—from you.

In closing, all of us at Cat Hospital would like to wish you and your family—humans, felines and treasured pets of all shapes and sizes—the very happiest holiday season. We cherish the opportunity to care for your beloved cats, and we are grateful to have earned your trust. Here’s to a safe, healthy and paws-perous 2017!

Hospital Happenings

More Appointment Opportunities

In January, Cat Hospital will begin offering 7:30 a.m. appointments three or four days a week as well as appointments for surgery every Saturday.

Celebrating the 50th Edition of Treats & Tidbits!

This issue marks the 50th edition of Treats & Tidbits! It is an honor to be allowed to drop into your inbox each quarter with information to help ensure the health and well-being of your beloved felines, and we thank you for the opportunity to continue doing so. Look for some design changes to Treats & Tidbits in 2017 to make it even more reader-friendly!

Did You Know?

Did you know changes in litter box behavior could indicate a problem? Under normal circumstances, cats are very clean and careful about their litter box habits, so if you notice a change in your cat's routine, consult your Cat Hospital of Chicago veterinarian, who can help you figure out what's going on with him.

Seasonal Reminders

Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are coming, and with them come plenty of potential dangers for your feline friends. To ensure they have a safe and happy holiday season, follow these tips:

Cat-proof your tree. Cats of all ages, but especially kittens, tend to think Christmas trees are great fun to climb, so be sure your tree is secure—there is nothing quite like the sound of a tree full of ornaments crashing to the floor, with a little help from a climbing and curious kitty. Be sure to place ornaments high enough so they are out of paw’s reach and, if possible, use non-breakable ornaments.
Beware of tree water. Stagnant tree water can be a breeding ground for bacteria, and cats that ingest it could end up with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Aspirin and other chemicals that are frequently added to the water to keep the tree living longer are toxic to pets, so it’s important to keep the tree water covered.
Tinsel can be trouble! Yes, tinsel, angel hair and ribbons look lovely on Christmas trees, but cats commonly ingest them. Those that do can suffer serious intestinal problems that require surgery.
Be careful with cords. Some cats like to chew electrical cords. If yours does, give the cords a good dousing with Bitter Apple, Bitter Yuck or another chew deterrent.
Keep lit candles out of kitty’s reach. Cats could get burned or knock them over and cause a fire. Better yet, use flameless LED candles, which are less messy and just as cheerful as the real ones.
Healthy treats, please. Don’t give chocolate and other sweets to cats. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be deadly to cats. Look for special cat treats instead of cookies or sweets meant for people.
No bones! Avoid giving bones to your cats. Poultry bones splinter easily and can cause serious injury including intestinal blockages or lacerations. Other holiday foods can cause stomach upset, and spoiled or moldy food can cause tremors or seizures, so keep kitty away from your food preparation area, and make sure garbage receptacles are securely covered.
Avoid alcohol. Place unattended alcoholic drinks where kitty cannot reach them. A cat that ingests alcohol could become very sick and weak, and may go into respiratory failure or a coma, which could result in death.
Be particular about plants and floral decorations. Many popular holiday plants are poisonous to cats. Lilies, which are commonly used in floral arrangements at this time of year, can cause kidney failure in cats. Mistletoe and holly berries also can be toxic. Poinsettias are considered to be very low in toxicity, but they could cause mild vomiting or nausea if ingested. Consider safer alternatives like silk or plastic artificial flowers.
Seclude kitty during parties. If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, place your cat in a separate room during the festivities. Turn on a radio or TV to keep kitty company, and be sure to include food, water, a litter box and some toys.

Winter Safety Tips

Winter in the Windy City also means snowstorms and freezing temperatures, which can be problematic for animals. Here are some tips to help protect your furry friends as well as animals that live in your neighborhood when temperatures dive:

Keep your cat inside. The safest place in the world for your cat is indoors. When outdoors, felines can freeze, suffer frostbite, get lost or even suffer life-threating injuries.
Never leave kitty in a car. Cats shouldn’t be left inside a vehicle in cold weather for any length of time. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing freezing or hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature brought on by spending extended time in cold temperatures.
A warm cat is a happy cat. Make sure your cat has a warm place to sleep, off of the floor and away from all drafts.
Kitty-proof the fireplace. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, use a protective barrier or fire screen to keep your cat from getting burned.
Take extra care with space heaters. A cat landing on a space heater can be easily burned, and if a cat knocks over the unit, your place could go up in flames.
Make sure your cat has identification. More pets are lost in the winter than at any other time of the year, often because they lose their ability to scent their way home in snow and ice. So be sure your cat is wearing up-to-date ID tags or has a microchip. If your feline already has a microchip, be sure the chip manufacturer has your correct contact information. (Please note the chip does not contain your contact information. The chip manufacturer has it if you provided it.)
Use safe sidewalk de-icers. The salt you use to de-ice your driveway and sidewalks can hurt animals. Use a de-icer that’s animal-safe, such as Safe Paw, which is available at PetSmart stores.
Use safe antifreeze. It may smell and taste good to cats, but ethylene glycol-based antifreeze is a lethal poison for animals—just a few licks can be deadly. While no antifreeze is safe for ingestion, propylene glycol-based antifreeze, such as Sta-Clean Antifreeze or SIERRA Antifreeze/Coolant, generally is much less toxic. Be sure to keep the product stored in a clearly marked, sealed container in a place where pets don’t have access, never allow animals to be in the area when you are draining antifreeze from your vehicle, and clean up any antifreeze spills immediately.

“I can’t remember when I haven’t had to work on Christmas Day because the animals have never got round to recognizing it as a holiday.”
— Christopher Herriott, from “The Yorkshire Christmas Cat”

Back issues of Treats & Tidbits are available here.

We welcome referrals! If you refer someone to Cat Hospital,
you’ll get $35 off your next visit!

2851 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 539-9080, fax (773) 478-0605

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Cat Hospital of Chicago · 2851 W. Irving Park Road · Chicago, IL 60618 · USA