A bit over a year ago, during one of my night-time shifts at Suncoast Animal League I happened upon a small kitten that looked like a tiny toasted marshmallow. I couldn't help but stop what I was doing to scoop him up into my arms. He cuddled and purred and I told him "Don't you dare be here next week, or I'm going to take you home!" Did he listen to me? Of course not. So after his neuter a few months later, he came home in a carrier to be a part of our family.
Fitz grew and his snowshoe colors darkened, making him our little toasty weird boy. He found out he loved sleeping on his back, getting his teeth brushed, drinking from the sink, and colorful mouse toys that he would "drown" in the water bowl. He knocked down countless drinks, barged in on zoom meetings, and made us laugh so much we nearly cried on multiple occasions. He had his first birthday in September, but within about a week he started to act odd.
At first, Fitz became lethargic. He was normally ravenous at meals, but started to barely eat. After a few days, I decided to take his temperature and it came back with 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This was the start of our vet visits. Over the course of the last month, we have had multiple visits with his normal veterinarian, a ophthalmologist when his eyes began to cloud, and a hospice home care vet. All of them had the same diagnosis in mind: feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP.
FIP is a typically fatal disease where the normal feline coronavirus mutates and begins to infect the white blood cells. There are multiple forms depending on clinical symptoms. In Fitz's case, he started out with a dry ocular form that caused his lethargy, fever, and ocular issues that ultimately caused partial retinal detachment in both eyes. Over the course of the last week, we noticed his abdomen begin to bloat as fluid began to form there. This was when we knew we had to make a choice.
Through some research, we found an experimental treatment that had strong anecdotal evidence of working. Some clinical trials were run, but unfortunately I couldn't find any active trials. I knew I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I didn't give him a chance. The treatment is 84 days of injections, and then a long wait period to watch for signs of the infection's return. In total, the cost of the treatment ranges between $5,000 - 6,000 depending on his weight gain. This is on top of the over $2,000 we have spent in the last month on testing and other vet visits.
We have already begun the treatment process at the time of writing this. Within 48 hours, his eyes became brighter and his third eyelid was showing less. He also began eating wet food in small amounts without being syringe fed, which he had not done in weeks. He even has shown interest in playing again.
Any help so that I can give my little FIP warrior a chance to live the long life he deserves is greatly appreciated. Also, you can follow his progress at Fitz the Toasty Warrior on Facebook.
- Thomas Wands
- Alexis Weiler
- Elyse Koenig
- Scott Derryberry
- Joseph Knapp