The Cat Still Sets Off the Geiger Counter

The Cat Still Sets Off the Geiger Counter

The cat still sets off the Geiger Counter
March 1, 2012 3:35 PM    Subscribe

My cat Victoria just returned home from a week at Cornell's veterinary hospital, where she was given radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism. Fellow mefites whose cats have gone this route: how have you dealt with the subsequent weeks in a multicat household? Advice, it is conflicting.

The Cornell radiologist's oral recommendations were much more relaxed than the written ones (i.e., "yes, your cat can sit on your lap for maybe thirty or so minutes per day" as opposed to ALL LAPS OFF LIMITS). But I've got most of the routines down pat: dirty litter kept in a separate waste container in the garage until any residual radiation decays, hand sanitizers everywhere, no pregnant women/young children in the cat's immediate vicinity, etc. However, there's the problem of food and water. Her brother Disraeli won't touch her canned food, so that's not an issue, but they've got a shared water bowl and dry food dispenser. Separating the food is pretty much impossible without quarantining one of the cats (which the vet told me was unnecessary), as there's a distinct shortage of doors downstairs. The vet knows there's another cat in the house. Suggestions? Any other advice? (They don't groom each other, so there shouldn't be any issues with saliva transfer that way.)
posted by thomas j wise to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was diligent about the litter issue, and I wouldn't let pregnant women mess with the cat, but I think they are probably going a bit overboard. The amount of radioactivity is very small. It's not a big deal.

From the Radiocat site:
"What post-treatment care is needed?
After your cat is released, we ask that you spend two weeks using some basic, common sense safety precautions primarily regarding your cat's litter box output (we'll give you detailed written instructions along with a litter disposal kit). You would probably receive more radiation from an extended flight or a day at the beach than you'll get from your pet once it's released, so your cat does NOT need to be isolated from you, your family or other pets. However, your cat MUST remain indoors. Limiting (not halting) snuggling with your cat and washing your hands after prolonged close contact is recommended. We'll help you figure out ways to accommodate these small changes in your daily routine. The potential risk to owners is extremely remote as regulations for using I-131 are much stricter for animals than for people, but we recommend pregnant women not participate in the cat's care during these two weeks. After two weeks, simply return to your normal pet-care and pet-loving routine. "
posted by bolognius maximus at 3:59 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, I would point out that hand sanitizers are not going to do anything about possible radiation contamination. Keeping them around to kill bacteria, yes. It won't decontaminate radiation, so instead wash your hands with plenty of water to rid yourself of possible radiation.
posted by nasayre at 6:16 PM on March 1, 2012

Response by poster:Nasayre: I had an OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD moment about that myself :) So I'm spending more time hanging around the sink than originally anticipated.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:43 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had one of my cats get that same treatment a few years ago. One thing that the vet pointed out was that humans get the same kind of radiation treatment all the time, with more radioactive materials even, and are sent home the same day and sleep right next to their partners. The contact limitation is pretty silly. The only thing I worried about was the litter disposal, so for 3 months I switched to biodegradable corn litter and kept the waste in a separate bucket in the garage. And washed my hands a lot.

BTW, treated cat is happy and very healthy, no reccurence. It was like magic. He went from a skinny hyperactive vomit machine back to a loving chubby sleeper within weeks.
posted by monopas at 5:11 PM on March 5, 2012

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