I am setting up this GoFundMe to both raise funds and awareness for this horrible disease. Please read my story and pass it on. As of 4/21 we are on day 44 of 83.
I had not had a pet as an adult and having grown up with cats it seemed natural a cat would be my first pet. I was told that adopting them in pairs was better for both me and them as they have a companion and a playmate for life. I adopted two sister kittens from a cat rescue last August. The girls were found in an alley in Chicago at only a few weeks old. Penelope and Georgette (Gigi) were as sweet, playful and cuddly as can be- I was so grateful to have found them!
Only a few weeks after adoption, tragedy hit when Gigi stopped eating and suddenly lost lots of weight seemingly overnight with a distended belly. The vet almost immediately diagnosed her with a rare disease that only effects kittens called “wet form” FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). I was told the disease was fatal, and with Gigi deteriorating by the hour we made the devastating decision to put her sleep.
I was at a loss and heartbroken that such a healthy young kitten could contract a disease like this and die so suddenly. I was also distraught that so little research is done on the disease and no medicine or cure.
After a period of time, Gigi’s sister Penelope made it clear she needed a new sister (her constant meows around my apartment in search of her playmate were enough to break your heart). I adopted Charlotte from a litter of 7 kittens that were put up by a family that could not care for them. She was the runt of the litter and her “small and mighty” attitude was completely lovable. Penelope and Charlotte became fast friends and sisters, playing, sleeping and eating together all the love long day. Life was good. Not once did i think these girls would be anything but happy, healthy and loved for many years to come.
That is until two weeks ago when I returned home from a work trip to find Charlotte (who typically greets me at the door with chirps) to be lethargic and not moving on the couch. I made a vet appointment first thing in the morning; she had a high fever and very low white blood cell counts. I asked my vet “is there any chance this is FIP?”, I was given a resounding “no”. The disease was so rare and Charlotte’s symptoms didn’t really match it, I was being paranoid my doctor assured me. After a week of tests, blood work, an overnight emergency vet stay and thousands of dollars we were no closer to finding what was wrong with poor Charlotte except that she was getting worse and her fever would not budge. It was suggested that I get an ultrasound which ultimately showed lightening had indeed struck twice and Charlotte had the same disease that killed Gigi- FIP. Charlotte has the “dry” form of the disease which is much harder to diagnose and does not come on so quickly but nevertheless has the same outcome- fatality. I was told to take her home and spend some time with her and when I was ready to bring her back to be out to sleep.
HOW!? How could this happen twice. We may never know the answer, but what I do know is this happened to me for a reason. This time I was determined that there had to be a way to try and fight this. I was told by a trusted feline expert that there was in fact an antiviral drug being tested to cure FIP, except it wasn’t available yet. After a ton of research I found a group that is helping owners get the drug- it is an INCREDIBLE network. Within 24 hours of contacting the group Charlotte had been given her first shot. Within hours her fever had reduced and she was more alert. It was unbelievable really.
The treatment is a very long and expensive road. It requires a shot to be administered daily for 84 days. That means I will be giving her shots until May 29th. The results however are undeniable. 48 hours into treatment her fever, that had lasted over a week, was gone. 3 days in she started moving around and grooming herself. 4 days in she started playing with her sister! We are on day 5 and she actually woke me up, as she used to, with a chirp on my chest to be fed breakfast- I am overjoyed!
If you made it this far- thank you for the commitment. All told this treatment will be extremely expensive and I have unfortunately just found out I will take a 50% cut in my salary due to Covid-19. I would be so grateful for any donation you can make to help this darling kitten get better and to spread awareness about the disease and drug so it can be better funded, researched and released to the public at a reasonable cost. Thank you for anything you can give! ♥️
P.S. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about the disease and treatment, I’ve learned quite a lot in the past weeks and months.