A survey of owners' perceptions and experiences of radioiodine treatment of feline hyperthyroidism in the UK

Lara A Boland1, Jane K Murray1, Catherine PV Bovens1 and Angie Hibbert2

Abstract
The efficacy of radioiodine treatment of feline hyperthyroidism is well established; however, limited information is known about owners' perceptions or experiences of radioiodine. This study aimed to examine factors that influence owner treatment choices and their opinions following radioiodine. Surveys were sent to owners of cats referred for radioiodine treatment between 2002 and 2011 (radioiodine group; 264 cats) and owners of non-radioiodine-treated hyperthyroid cats seen at first-opinion practices (control group; 199 cats). The response rate was 67.0% (310 returned: 175 radioiodine, 135 control). Of 135 controls, 72 (53.3%) were unaware of radioiodine as a treatment option. Owners of cats ⩾15 years old and uninsured cats were less likely to pursue radioiodine. Cost of treatment, travel distance, potential human or animal health risks and waiting periods for radioiodine had a low impact on owners' treatment choice. Owners reported a moderate level of concern about treatment hospitalisation length, which included (158 respondents) the possibility of the cat being unhappy 130 (82.3%), owner missing the cat 102 (64.6%), inappetence 50 (31.6%), other pets missing the cat 32 (20.3%), development of co-morbid disease 28 (17.7%) and side effects 25 (15.8%). Owners assessed their cat's quality of life on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent), as 4 (4) (median [interquartile range]) pre-radioiodine (134 respondents) and 9 (2) post-radioiodine (131 respondents). Of 132 respondents, 121 (91.7%) were happy with their decision to choose radioiodine. The results of this questionnaire may assist veterinarians in addressing common owner concerns when discussing
radioiodine as a treatment option for hyperthyroidism.

Accepted: 7 December 2013

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