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We found out April 21st, 2017, that our sweet kitten Luna whom we had only had for 5 weeks (age 15 weeks at the time), had the wet form of “Feline Infectious Peritonitis” (FIP) after taking her to the MedVet ER for abdominal distention. It was our worst fear as new hybrid cat owners as we had read about it during our research about Savannah cats. We knew that is 100% fatal, with no treatment or cure, but also knew it to be somewhat of a rarity that a kitten or cat was diagnosed with it. Talk about trial by fire and learning the hard way! That’s how it went for us as we were so excited to be first-time Savannah cat owners and not the least bit prepared that we were going to lose her within a few months! Luna is the best kitten and exceeded our expectations; therefore, the bond was instant and diagnosis devastating.
We started off giving her steroids for palliative treatment to help her feel better and be able to eat more and then started Feline Omega Interferon (FOI) to help slow the progression and give us some time with her. We wanted to give her every chance as long as it was humane and she was not in pain. We truly have the perfect Savannah with Luna as she has exceeded our expectations. I see now how people get so attached to their pets. This was a horrible feeling and we’d only had her 5 for weeks.
I researched like crazy that next day and started calling universities that I saw mentioned in various internet searches and ultimately contacted the UC Davis (California) Veterinary College. I had read that they were making progress with a trial drug for FIP In 2016. I left a voice message on April 23rd with the details of Luna’s diagnosis and history and got a call back on the 24th to further discuss her symptoms, provide medical records and lab work and discuss a brand new drug trial/research project that was just starting! I learned that they had completed their trial on their first drug (a protease inhibitor called “GC376”) and that it was no longer available for use in trial or treatment and that it’s findings were still being published. They were able to trial and save 7 out of 23 cats using this drug.
They told me that they were in the process of starting another trial drug (an antiviral, RNA ) that is just as promising. Luna was the first privately owned, naturally acquired FIP cat to receive this drug and others were to sin follow; possibly up to 20 cats total. We are so honored and excited that she met the criteria for this small research trial and I get chills when I think about the timing of it all.
We needed to get her to Sacramento, CA ASAP after receiving the call and approval and have her admitted to their clinic for 5-10 days of drug trial and monitoring. We did that on April 28th, just seven days after her FIP diagnosis. She responded extremelY fast, and was able to come home at the 6-day mark. We are continuing to administer the drug at home for a total time of 12 weeks, having her lab work repeated at specific intervals by our local vet, and results reported to Dr. Pedersen at UCD until the time is deemed appropriate to stop.
This seemingly positive outcome gives hope, not just for Luna, but for the future of cats diagnosed with the wet form of FIP. We could still theoretically lose Luna if the drug fails to eradicate her FIP, but at least her short life will have had a purpose. I can only imagine what this could mean the future of other FIP diagnosed cats.