View All FIP Warriors
In August of 2017 my sister (who lives 5 hours away) sent me a picture of two little fur balls staring directly up at the camera with the words “are you interested?” I was hooked immediately. They were two feral kitten siblings, one girl and one boy that were born that May. She found them in the walls of her neighbor’s house. They were both very sick but with much love, affection, and bottle feeding she got them both healthy and ready for a good home. Long story short we rented a car (ours did not have air conditioning at the time) and made the road trip both ways in a weekend to bring them home.
The bonding happened quickly. They were both healthy and happy and full of love. We were diligent about getting them to the vet to get all of their vaccinations and to get microchipped. They advised us we had a little longer before we would need to get them fixed so they could get bigger and stronger first. In November we came home from vacation to find our girl in heat. We urgently got Julius fixed and his sister once she had calmed down. Considering many of the stories of FIP cats taking a turn with the trauma of this surgery I guess this was the first instance of Julius being a slightly different FIP case.
By his first birthday Julius was a large 14 pound cat. On a holiday weekend in July 2018 we had to take him to the emergency vet clinic because he was limping and not putting any weight on his back foot. There were no marks consistent with any injury or any indications that it was broken. They were guessing his sister got a little rough with him while playing and either scratched him or bit him causing an infection. They sent us with pain medication and antibiotics. We all thought it was strange, but when his condition cleared up within a few days it was brushed off. In hind sight this inflammation may have been the first occurrence of FIP symptoms. He started losing weight shortly after when we changed his food to the adult formula. In August 2018 during his one year checkup we were told it was normal and to keep an eye on him. With the belief that I was being a paranoid pet parent I didn’t push.
In October 2018 it became clear there was something wrong. We were in constant contact with our vet. Nothing came back abnormal from any of the tests performed except for his bloodwork indicating he was anemic. At his worst he got down to 9 1/2 pounds. He responded well in the short term to prednisone, but it seemed all real answers were out of reach. We limped along with no diagnosis or any real direction for several months. He had problems eating off and on, showed neurological symptoms that would come and go, and the hard to define symptoms of dehydration and lethargy that were difficult to pinpoint a cause for.
In January 2019 we spent 2 days seeing specialists at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Washington State University 2 hours away from us. Those were the longest 2 days for us and for him. It was not until the end of that second day that I had even heard of FIP. They suspected he had dry FIP, but were running several other biopsies and lab tests for other viruses and bacterial infections. At this point tests showed that it had already affected his bladder, colon, spleen, and kidneys. We were sent home with treatments and management for every possibility (more prednisone and two antibiotics that he had not been on before) with the slim hope that one of the other tests for treatable conditions would come back positive. In the meantime, we made the promise to ourselves now that we knew how serious his illness could be, that as soon as his quality of life dips we were going to do the right thing and end his suffering. It was by no means an easy decision but I have no doubt in my mind for his sake it was the right one.
Several weeks later immediately after having everything come back negative we made an appointment with a holistic vet as a last ditch effort to prolong his quality of life. He never made that appointment. Almost at the same time hearing the final diagnosis of dry FIP we had to intervene. On the morning of February 6, 2019 we drove him to the vets office curled up in my arms for the final time. We were with him the entire time. Thinking back I know we did every possible thing we could have done for him. It just was no match for FIP. I will miss my baby everyday. I hope by sharing his story and the information gleaned from the tests he had to endure that he can help end this horrible disease.