I’m having Radioactive Iodine.. should my cats ... - Thyroid UK

Thyroid UK

120,931 members140,876 posts

I’m having Radioactive Iodine.. should my cats go to the cattery

Hi everyone

This is my first post on here

Life has been hell for the past year since my hyperthyroidism decieded to introduce itself to me and all of its effects

After 2 Fine Needle aspiration biopsies I was told my nodules were non cancerous and was offered Radioactive Iodine when my thyroid levels were lower .. I am going to have it , although I don’t want to go hypothyroid.. I’m going to take the risk ... I’ve had a really tough time ... I still am as I really want to stop taking propranolol and it’s scary stuff when Ive tried cutting it down [ following endos instructions) I’m still on 80mg

I’ve spent a fortune on vets having my 2 beloved cats cattery ready ..(injections and worming) , I’ve paid all the cattery fees

Bought new quilt to throw away later when I’m less radioactive, 4 boxes of vinyl gloves for everything that I handle , plastic shoe protectors to put on feet to walk around the flat and other over the top stuff

My question is is it really necessary to put my cats in the cattery for a few days when I have the RAI ...I love them so much and want the best for them but I’m afraid they’ll be cold in the cattery that they’ll think I’m not going back for them and all sorts of stuff I’m worrying

I’m prepared to lock myself in my bedroom for 2/3 days with no contact with cats whilst iodine clears

I work such long hours and don’t spend enough time with them so having the 10 days off work when having RAI is such a novelty and want to be with them

Can anyone advise me what I should do with my 2 babies when I have my RAI

Thank you in advance

32 Replies
helvella profile image

Well, sorry you need the treatment and I hope all goes well.

Advice around the world varies. For example:


Other sources are much more relaxed.


Your cats will obviously not want to go, but I am quite sure they will want their cat mother just as much as ever when they come back.

in reply to helvella

Thank you Helvella

I’m in uk , I know putting them in cattery is the best thing to do... i rang my vets and they said if it were cat having rai then they’d be in isolation for 4 days and that’s what they advise if it were an adult having the treatment... stay away from cat for 4 days

I’m just dreading it so much but then I’m thinking that one of the cats wants cuddles non stop and I’ll have to brush him away and keep the door shut, that’s also not fair on him if I keep them home

I have a few days to decide ..

Thank you

I have no idea but I understand your reluctance to part with your cats, it breaks my heart every time I go on holiday. However, my cat seems very happy at the cattery and is very calm and cuddly when she comes back. I leave her with familiar blankets and items of unwashed clothing (a cardigan or something) that we’ve cuddled in. They make note of her preferred food. Some catteries will send you photos of them too.

I imagine that the temptation to cuddle your cats when you shouldn’t will be immense. Another thought, the vets bills will be enormous going forward if your cats develop thyroid problems as a result of being near you during treatment :( think the cattery may be the sensible option, but wish you well whatever you eventually decide x

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to Aurealis

Thyroid problems in cats is so so common it would be impossible to prove it was caused by the owner having RAI. Two of our cats were hyperthyroid but it's easily treated.

in reply to bantam12

Hi thank you

I agree, I think hyperthyroidism is very common in older cats anyway and already dread the thought of them having thyroid problems when they’re older ... they are only 3 & 4 !!!

I think cancer can be a risk of the Rai ... I suppose better safe than sorry ..book to see cattery and mope on my own for 4 days while they are on holiday 😥

in reply to Aurealis

Hi thank you for putting my mind at rest regarding taking cats to the cattery .. I will be totally honest ... I’ve only rang and spoke to lady and paid . I’ve not actually been to visit to have a loook ... it’s in a good area in the countryside and has good reviews ... that was enough to go by at the time..perhaps I should ask for a look round before I decide 😳...

my time is so limited ...

I support a disabled lady and she has 4 cats .. the eldest cat is having a bad time with hyperthyroidism at the moment ... it’s awful , I don’t want my cats to go through it when they’re older

I lost a cat 3 years ago to it also ... so heartbreaking to see them like that

I will ring the cattery lady tomorrow and maybe book to visit then I have a week or so to picture in my head where they might go if I decide to send them

Thank you again

There's really no need for all your preparations but obviously up to you. When i had RAI I more or less carried on as usual including doing the school run, I think for a couple of days I slept in a spare room and didn't eat at the table with the children but otherwise nothing special.

The advice is usually no close contact, as in cuddling children, for a week and arms distance from anyone who's pregnant.

Personally I wouldn't send the cats away.

in reply to bantam12

Hi thank you for your reply

It’s unbelievable what I’ve bought in preparation... new cat baskets , blankets for them , speed crochet some blankets myself for them and even more stuff for home and bed , it’s costing a fortune

I know I’m going over the top and isn’t necessary ... I’m thinking just keep my distance for few days and keep them home but as Aurealis says it could save on vet bills in the future and a lot of heartache I suppose

Will let you all know what I decide to do

Thank you

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to

You really didn't need to buy them new things, you aren't going to contaminate their beds or blankets.

Any radioactivity after rai goes so quickly the risk to anyone else be they human or animal is minuscule. As I said I had 3 young children, 3 dogs and 5 cats at the time and I didn't kill any of them off 🤣

As you are so worried about the cats it sounds like they should go for a holiday otherwise you will be stressing out for the 7 days.

in reply to bantam12

I’ll be stressing either way I think ...

I bought new stuff for them cos I want them to have nice new things for if they go away .. not necessary, I know ... won’t buy anything more

they due to go just before my treatment so no contamination

Ellie-Louise profile image
Ellie-Louise in reply to

I think buying new cat bedding etc is only for our state of mind and not the cats. In my experience cats prefer their own familiar smells around them.

One of my own cats refuses to go near their own bed when it has been washed and takes over the other ones bed instead.

So sending them off to a cattery without anything familiar to them could stress them out even more.

Apologies if I have the wrong end of the stick, maybe you meant the new things are for home.

I hope all goes well for you, and cuddles for your cats from ours. x

I haven't done it, but when the procedure was described to me, I was told to stay at least 6 feet away from other living things. Wash your sheets, towels, clothes and body every day. Don't cook for others. I have 2 cats and would have boarded them. I was told to follow these procedures for 3 days.

in reply to kvmj

Thank you

I know it’s the right thing to send them away .. I’m just dreading it so much

When my appointment came through there wasn’t much to follow.. it said I’d be told everything when I go for the treatment... so I’m confusing myself by reading so much on the internet ..so thought I’d post on here

Thank you

I'm going to be in the "put the cats in the cattery" camp.

Picture this.

You are at home and your cats are away from you in another room. Their food is probably (or should) be prepped by someone else and ditto with the litter trays etc. Look at it from their point of view....they are going to be so confused as to why their slave/mum isn't giving the cuddles and play like normal. They know you are there in the house but are avoiding them.

They will feel confused about that.

If they go to the cattery they will be warm, the chalets should have some source of heat during cold snaps such as a heat lamp.

Cats go into maximum sleep mode when in catteries or while away the hours looking at what is going on outside (many catteries have a selection of bird feeders in a central "courtyard" to keep their guests entertained) and then sleep some more! Remember they have each other for company too and even cats who might be a little sniffy to each other at home turn into best buddies and seem to protect each other when in a strange or challenging situation. The only time I have ever seen my cats properly entwined in each others arms and snuggled together was when I picked them up from the cattery. :)

I have a friend who arranged for a pet sitter to pop round and feed her cats whilst she took a holiday. This really unhinged the cats who thought they had been abandoned in their own home and would have no truck with this strange person pet sitter and one escaped at the first opportunity to disappear god only knows where until he was sure that his slaves had come back home!

So you can see that upset in their routine on their home turf can be even worse than toughing it out in a cattery where the worse that can happen is that they have a bit of a sulk over eating and don't be surprised if the cattery owner says that they wouldn't touch their regular make of food........"But they never eat Felix".......well they do when they are in the cattery and a good cattery usually has an extensive menu to tempt their guests. If your cats normally have some of the more specialist cat food such as Lily's Kitchen, you might have to provide it so check with the cattery owner. :)

Do go along for a visit if you can. A good cattery should always welcome you do this but they may limit the visit hours to outside morning or evening feeding times for the cats' sakes. Give them some bedding or a blanket or an old sweater for them to cuddle and a few toys, maybe their scratch post if they have one and don't wash anything, let it smell of home to comfort them.

I did a stint in a cattery once when I was between vet nursing jobs and absolutely loved it. People that work in catteries do it because they love cats and I was in paradise giving cuddles, fusses and reassurance to loads of cats, many of whom could be a little shy but could be won over with the help of a Dreamie or three. :)

I also put my own cats in cattery when we went on our first holiday in nearly 10 years. Never took holidays because of the furries and I have to confess that even after a long flight back from Mauritius we jumped in the car and picked up the cats on the way home from the airport.

They were both pretty nonplussed by the experience all in all.....typical cats! :D

in reply to spongecat

Aww Thank you so much for your reassuring reply.

Im worried just as much about keeping them home for exactly the reasons you mentioned as much as I am for them going away ... although I have a good supply of gloves that I could use when doing their food , litter tray and water

But they just won’t understand why they can’t be on the bed with me or sit on my knee and have cuddles and I won’t be able to get them in my arms squeeze them while kissing them to death 😔

This hyperthyroidism has a lot to answer to ... my levels are meant to be near normal and Im still feeling anti-social and only have interest in having my cats for company.. I love them more than anything or anyone

Probably a good thing cos when I’m hypo and put even more weight on ( I put 2 stone on instead of losing weight whilst hyperthyroid) no one will want my company anyway 😊

Thank you very much for your reply. I will ring cattery and ask to have a look round tomorrow

Regards xx

spongecat profile image
spongecat in reply to

Oh bless you!

I'm just the same about loving my cats who have always been a reassuring presence when I was at my most anxious and their unconditional love and purrs.

Wishing you the very best when things seem so daunting. I blame most of our anxiety with things on the thyroid problems we have.

Take care and chin rubs to the cats xx

I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing ... I’m really not

I’m already thinking I’ve got hypo symptoms...so tired , so much weightgain and brain fog

I’ve had such a bad time time with hyperthyroidism ... and endo tells me rai should kill just the nodule not the thyroid ... he’s been absolutely useless for past year ...

dusty2 profile image
dusty2 in reply to

I have had it without any problems. It was the best thing I did with feeling awful before I had it. Make up your own mind after reading all the information you can find.

I think far more important for the cats and for you, than new blankets etc, is that you visit the cattery rather than booking it sight unseen - then and only then , will you get a feel for the place. My cats go to the small cattery belonging to my vet practice because they get professional care and I obviously know all the staff. Re the new blankets, the cats would probably be better off with their existing blankets, unwashed so holding familiar smells. Cats going to a cattery is such a commonplace thing, and if you're satisfied you've chosen a good trustworthy one, then that's the best place for them whilst you have a few days to relax and take things easy after the procedure.

One of our cats had RAI. They kept him for 10 days and then we weren't supposed to snuggle too close for a couple of weeks. I awoke to the cat wrapped around my neck on the first day home. I am still alive, lol. I later had my thyroid removed, but for a non-cancerous nodule, as it turned out.

PS The cat did well and was no longer hyperthyroid, nor hypothyroid.

Wow l had RAI treatment several years ago and was advised to stay indoors away from people for a few days. My German Shepard and cat stayed at home with friends calling round to take the dog for walks. I just stayed in a different room while they collected and returned my wonderful dog. Nothing dire happened to anyone or anything. My advice is to be more relaxed about it.

I would never ever have rai. You will be swallowing nuclear waste, it not only goes to your thyroid but several other parts of your body, including breast and kidney. I and thousands of others in Britain have severe regrets afterwards and being hypo is hell here for many as you only get levothyroxine afterwards and for 20% of us it doesn’t work. Being hypo is hideous and a killer.

Hi there

I don't know about radioactive iodine treatment but knew someone who had a radioactive bone scan. For 24 hours she couldn't go near young children or anyone who was pregnant, and it was safer not to hug anyone, but otherwise no problem.

As said, medical radioactive treatment is very low dose and has a short half life, so I'm sure wouldn't be a problem unless one of your cats is likely to be pregnant or has kittens

I had RAI 2 years ago at Royal Marsden and was told both my 2 cats and 2 dogs were safe around me. I did have to stay away from grandchildren and pregnant daughter. Slept separate from my husband. Cooking, sharing toilet were high risk. I was given a chart of how many days I was to be apart from people, travelling etc. I would say that having RAI was the worse I have ever done in my life. If I could turn the click back I WOULD. My Endo made it sound so easy... have RAI then taken a tablet for the rest of your life. It’s just not like that. Read lots and get advice on this site. I wish I had known about this site before I ever had that damn treatment. My Thyroid is completely dead now. Good luck with whatever you choose to do. X

When I had my RAI I asked about the effect it might have on my cats. The 'specialist' laughed and said "you don't need to worry about pussycats". As he'd just told me that I needed to steer clear of children and babies, I couldn't understand this. I resolved to keep my distance from them when I got home.

First thing I did on getting home was fall into a deep sleep for a couple of hours on the sofa. On waking my cat was curled up with me, close to my body. I shoed her away and kept my distance as much as I could. Difficult when they're used to lots of cuddles!

Next day she was staggering around, looking drunk, then she vomited. She was out of sorts for a day or two.

Some years later she had to have X-rays and the vet pulled me to one side and virtually accused me of animal cruelty as her insides showed signs of significant damage. I suspected it was related to the RAI, but couldn't be sure. I knew I certainly never abused my cat - quite the reverse, she was loved and cosseted all her life.

I think it's better to be safe with your beloved cats. On returning home they will bounce back in no time and you can rest assured that you did everything possible for their wellbeing.

Best of luck :-)

PS The best idea seemed to look it up!


Sorry to put a spanner in the works - I had the RAI done last month. Leaflet says stay from young children and pregnant women for 5 days. On the appointment to have the RAI I was told 13 days !! On steroids for 6weeks. Hubby started to follow me like a dog every time I went in the kitchen ! I used latex gloves, different towels, slept apart and kept away from the grandchildren for 14 days. Saw endo 4 weeks after treatment, said he's never seen anyone's thyroid levels plummet in such a short time !! Now on 75mg levo and due to see him after 6 weeks. Endo said if levels go too high I would need to go back on carbo and have the RAI treatment done again !! Surely they can just reduce the carbo !! Another patient was having the RAI for the 2nd time, she said others had to have the treatment repeated. I don't feel any different than when I was on the carbo, tired, drained, irritable. Endo also queried the Systemic Lupus I've had for 30 years, along with Sjogrens syndrome, doubted I'd got it ?? I have white hair after having alopecia, vitiligo, arthritis etc. Saw rheumatologist in the summer re: lupus - he knows I have lupus !!

Please, unlike me, don't assume it will end the nightmare of being hypo or hyper. Edno's seem to be pushing the RAI treatment !!

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to sally1976

It's very early days for you so don't assume the worst just yet. I went severely hypo within 4 weeks after rai and was put on 125 mcg immediately, it took some months of jiggling the dose before things settled down, that was over 15 years ago and I've been very well since.

Hyperthyroid1, is this a stay in hospital whilst you have the treatment? I know things have moved on but I didn't take any special precautions like this. You will be in safe levels when you come out. Have you received advice of what is to be avoided? I know there was special advice about cuddles and children so I suspect cats fall into that. We had a dog when I had my treatment and took no particular special measures but cats are move likely to sit on you etc. By the way it is so much easier than you might possibly imagine, I only missed cows milk.

No, you are just taken to the radio active section, given a tablet to swallow with literally a sip of water - difficult if you have problems with swallowing - Sjogrens - taken out of the centre and then you are on your own !!

I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard time with your hyperthyroidism. I know it is heart breaking to have to put your furry babies in the cattery but it will save you such a lot of worry in the long run. You will only spend your time looking for signs your cats have been affected. We put our cats in the cattery when we go away as we have no other choice. We do however board them at a very caring cattery which gives us peace of mind. Do go and look at the cattery you have booked your cats into, I am sure it will help.

Hello dear cat lover!

I have really enjoyed your post. Forgive me, but as a lifelong cat-lover I think YOUR cats have the best imaginable carer. Mine - and believe me, I love them to bits - just get parcelled off to the Cattery where they have a ball ……… and so far we have all survived!

I know I sound trite - but sorry, I just loved all you said. I'm sure your beloved felines will be just fine - and indeed, carry on loving you to bits. My darling husband died suddenly, recently, and the one thing the cats love is anything of his that bears his smell. Send yours off to the cattery with something of yours so they have that comfort.

MY cats say hello to yours , with lots of love.


You may also like...