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Tonight is the last in the series of STV’s Vet School. Set in the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the observational documentary series has followed the trials and tribulations of the animals that have come through the School’s doors for treatment.
Dr Kerry Simpson is the head of the Feline Clinic at the School and lectures in feline medicine. She spoke to The Hour about a recent procedure carried out on Zeana, a cat who suffers from hyperthyroidism.
The condition causes an excessive amount of thyroid hormones to be produced, and this caused Zeana to become restless and weary and she lost a lot of weight. She had to have several tests to determine whether she was fit enough for a ground breaking procedure called Radioactive Iodine. Kerry explained:
“We inject Radioactive Iodine under the skin so it’s just the same as a normal vaccine for cats, but because the gland is overactive all the iodine gets taken up by the gland and the overactive tissue gets killed by the radioactive substance. It’s like the other cells have been asleep while the gland was overactive, so they wake up and the gland can start functioning normally again.
“They come in once [afterwards] and have a really good check over to make sure they’ve got nothing else wrong with them, and then for the majority of cats they have to stay in for seven days after the injection and they come back at three to six months to make sure they are completely better.”
Cats are very good at hiding the signs of disease until they become really ill. Subtle things such as weight loss and going off their food can be signs that they are not feeling themselves. Common diseases found in older cats include kidney problems, thyroid problems, heart problems and diabetes. Obesity is also becoming problematic due to more and more people keeping their cats indoors. Kerry said:
“If you have a cat that is very overweight this can have a lot of knock on issues which are very bad for their health. You can get cat foods which are lighter in calories and you can also encourage them to exercise by hiding treats around the house.
“Some cats need more food than others and it depends if you’re feeding them wet food or dry food. The best thing to do is assess the cat’s weight and see if it’s overweight. It’s very easy to confuse loving your cat with over feeding your cat. Cats will actually do more when they are a bit slimmer and more active.”
See more of Dr Kerry Simpson and Zeana on the final episode of STV’s Vet School tonight (April 5) at 8pm.
For more information on the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies see the Edinburgh University website.