Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hyper Thyroidism in Cats

This is Tomi
He came to live with us 12 years ago when he was about 1 1/2 years old.. He was actually my daughters cat, but when my son in law was told he was being transferred to Germany (Army), they knew it would be hard to take Tomi along. They asked if we could keep him until they could send for him.. That was in the summer of 2001.. A week or so after they arrived in Germany, 9/11 happened.. Suddenly it didn't seem very safe to have a cat traveling by himself on a plane.. There was talk off and on for the next couple of years about having him go over, but in the end, he stayed with us.. This was fine with us because we had fallen in love with this fluffy guy from day one.

Just before Tomi had come to stay with us, we had loss our 9 year old cat named Digit... Diggie loved to go outside and would sometimes sneak out without our even knowing it.. One morning he did just that, and was hit by a car.. He didn't survive, and our hearts were broken.. He was one of a kind and a joy to have in our lives..

Shortly after Tomi came to live with us, our other cat, Moose, passed away.. The vet suspected he might have been diabetic.. I'm not so sure.. He and Digit had been together since they were 6 weeks old, and loved each other completely... I've always wondered if Moose died from a broken heart..

With these two losses, Tomi became the center of our attention and filled a huge hole in our hearts.. We also had a dog named Gunner, which my husband already had when we were married.. Gunner came inside to visit during the day, but slept in his kennel at night.. This gave Tomi all our attention in the evenings, which he obviously loved..

Eventually, I talked my husband into letting Gunner stay in the house full time.. He was worried, as he was sure Gunner would attack Tomi.. For months Gunner had spent his days outside traveling the same path around our deck and past our windows that ran the length of the wall as Tomi moved from window to window inside the house torturing Gunner... If he wasn't teasing Gunner, he was watching chipmunks..

Despite my husbands concerns, Gunner and Tomi became the best of friends.. Tomi took naps on the footstool while gunner napped on the floor next to him.. They spent their days and evenings hanging out in the same rooms with each and seemed to have formed a very special, sweet friendship. 

Sadly, gunner passed away a few years later.. He was 14 years old and had lived his life like a big ole puppy... He was a character, and to this day, when we talk about him, both our eyes well up with tears.

We lost Gunner at one of the lowest points in our lives.. My husband's job as a Supervisor had been eliminated one week before Christmas when the economy first started getting shaky.. 
2 weeks later we lost Gunner... 

Knowing a huge factory in our area that employed over 2000 people had just announced they were moving their plant to Mexico, we knew it was going to be very hard for my husband to find another job..A few months later, he was offered a job in Northern Michigan.. We really weren't sure we wanted to move that far away from family, especially our grandkids, plus we had only lived in our house for a couple of years.. But we knew at that time, it might be years before jobs started opening up in our area, so with heavy hearts, he took the job.. 

We sold our house that we had put so much work and money in, and took a loss.. The realtor made more money than we did.. I know this is happening all over our country and I feel for everyone who has experienced this.. It sucks!

 We have moved four times since Tomi's been with us.. He adapts like a pro... As long as he has someplace to nap and grass to eat, he's a happy camper.. We've often remarked that we think he has a grass addiction, but the good kind.. 

Tomi was always a bit on the hefty side, weighing over 20 lbs... About 3 years ago, he started loosing weight, started loosing large clumps of hair, threw up a lot, was kind of grouchy and developed a lump on his throat.. We were worried beyond belief that we would loose him...It turned out he is hyperthyroid and his thyroid is enlarged.. 

 The medical choices didn't sound that great to us.. They either do surgery to remove the thyroid, which many cats do not survive through, especially older cats, or give radiation iodine treatments to kill the thyroid, which would make him radio active for a while and we'd have to wear gloves and face masks when changing his cat box  & not let our other cat use Tomi's box, or put him on a medication for the rest of his life which would be very expensive, takes a lot of trial and error to find the right dosage and if he failed to get it on a regular basis, the symptoms would return.. 

Of these 3 choices, the radiation iodine treatment is supposedly the safest, although, because of the radiation, it can only be administered in specialized veterinary clinics, and the kitty patient may need to stay until they are radiation free, probably 1-2 weeks. 

I started looking into safer, more natural remedies and ended up putting him on an organic, all natural cat food made by a company here in America called Pet Guard. There cat food is actually human food grade! We could eat it, but yuck..who would? lol.. I did a lot of research and found that liver is really good for ailing cats, so we picked a food that has fish, chicken and liver in it.. He loves it and has been eating it for years now....

I also put him on Essiac, a natural supplement that helps correct problems in the body, then eventually started him on Thyroid Sooth, an all natural product sold by Pet Alive, also an American company, that makes all natural remedies for pets...  The Thyroid Soothe really made a big difference and he's still using it. It's also much less expensive than the prescription drug a vet would have given him...

Tomi is now about 14 years old and doing really well...He no longer has hair coming out in chunks, he's stopped throwing up (other than an occasional hairball), he's gained some of his weight back (he's actually at a healthier weight now) and he's back to being Mr. Lovey Dovey... He's laying here next to me right now.. If I'm on my laptop, he is usually here with me.. 

Tomi seems to know he has top seniority, as he lets the other furry kids in our household know on a pretty regular basis... 

Tom sleeps next to my head, or sometimes, ON my head every night.. He gives me sweet little kisses on my forehead every morning and off and on throughout the day.. 

I'm so grateful there is so much information out there on the Internet and in books concerning alternative treatments for pets (as well as humans)... I would never tell anyone they shouldn't take their pet to the vet or follow the treatment prescribed...What I would say is, there are alternatives, and may be worth looking into before making a decision.. 

All I know is, we could have lost him if we had opted for surgery or the radiation therapy 3 years ago.. Natural care has given us 3 more years of love, purrs and kisses from our big orange fur ball, and we are forever grateful for that. 

While doing research about hyperthyroidism in cats, I discovered that this is happening at an alarming rate in the United States.. This is something that was pretty much unheard of a few years ago.. It is believed that there is a connection to fish caught in polluted waters and hyperthyroidism. They believe the fish is contaminated and the thyroid does not know what to do with all those contaminates. 

I tried foods that did not contain fish for Tomi when we first went organic for him, but he did not like them.. I can't even remember how many flavors we tried for him.. The only one he really likes is the Fish/Chicken/Liver flavor.. However, because this is an American company and their first priority is in creating healthy and safe food for pets, I do feel better about feeding him this particular fish product. 

Pet Guard has never been involved in any kind of pet food recall (that I'm aware of).. Their food is not available in stores like Walmart.. We have to buy it online because no one carries it locally. But we buy it from WAG, a great company that offers free shipping with orders over $49 and ships super fast.. I usually have my order within 2 days.. We buy enough at a time to get the free shipping and stay stocked ahead for a few months at a time..

While we are very pleased with Tomi's results and glad we made this decision about his health, please remember, I'm not a professional, and this is only my little ole opinion on what we decided to do after doing a lot of research on the subject. 

Tomi had a lot of modeling gigs back in the day when I first started my Karens Kats website.
His modeling fees were very reasonable....I paid him with food...

Hopefully Mr Top Seniority will be around for years to come to keep our other furry one's in line and to continue giving us daily kisses and purrs.. It's a job he seems to delight in :o)

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