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Athena: It’s Always Something

Posted in Cat

This post is a continuation of my series on Athena — her diagnosis, treatment, integration into the household, and life after FIP. If you haven’t already, I suggest taking a look at my previous posts on her. You can find them on her tag page.

Let me start with two things right off the bat.

  1. Athena is doing well; we’ve already taken care of the biggest issue that popped up.
  2. This post is a bit later than I’d planned because I waited to include her most recent blood work results.

There are a few medical terms in this post. I tried to link to easy to understand information, where possible. When I had to use medical terms for which I couldn’t find an easy plain language equivalent, I provided explanations through [def] (definition) links.


August was mostly quite. Athena seemed to have acknowledged that Bumbledore has no interest in bothering her in any way, which makes him acceptable. However, she still had issues with the younger boys.

Unfortunately, in early August one of the boys grabbed hear ear, and, when she ran off, it tore. At least, I’m assuming that’s what happened. I didn’t see it, but I found her with a bloody ear and little blood droplets all around her. We got her cleaned up easily, she didn’t even complain, and it healed in a couple of weeks. Thankfully, there’s been no clear sign of the boys attacking her since, so I’m going to say it’s an accident.

We put her on diet wet food to get her back to a good weight. While she wasn’t a big fan of it, she was willing to eat it.

What we noticed in August, though, was how much more vocal, cuddly, and inquisitive she got.

Athena on the window sill in the kitchen
Is Athena allowed on the windowsill behind the sink? No. Did she care? Also no.

Jim had been saying that she was quieter inside than she had been outside. Not anymore. She’s a talkative girly again, and she has no problem expressing her opinions when she’s upset.

She often crawled into my lap, or jumped up on Jim to nuzzle under his chin and get cuddles.


When September hit, though, things got a little rocky.

On the third, we discovered a new patch on Athena’s back. She hadn’t had one in a while, so it surprised us a bit. I gently brushed it with the flea comb, per usual. But, the next day, it was even more “scabbed,” so she must have licked at it more overnight. I tried cleaning and combing the area again, but she was irritated, so I couldn’t work on it for very long.

We decided that if it got any worse, we’d put her onesie back on.

It got worse.

The evening of the fifth, while she was sitting on my lap, I discovered open wounds on her back where the patch had been. Once we cleaned the area — she didn’t like that — we could see it wasn’t that bad.

She had two small wounds next to each other that looked like they were starting to form scabs. There was no visible blood on her anywhere, nor did she smell like blood at all. So, we spritzed her with Vetericyn, lightly brushed her fur over them to offer a bit of a barrier, and put her in a onesie. We figured that as long as they were fully scabbed over the next day, she’d be OK.

The next morning, she seemed alright. She had thin scabs and she let us clean the area with only some minor grumbling.

But, that evening, I found another, even bigger wound, further up her back. With the addition of that one, it looked like a bite.

My first concern was that one of the boys had attacked her — understandable after the ear incident. After cleaning her wounds again, including trimming her fur in the area, I searched the whole house to find where she was attacked. I was looking for blood — given the size of her wounds, there would have been blood — but I found nothing.

This left me with two possibilities: a self-inflicted bite or some kind of skin disease. While the self-inflicted wound was — in retrospect — far more likely, I was scared and feeling guilty I hadn’t noticed the wound before.

Jim managed to calm me enough that I could think things through logically. We decided not to race her off to the emergency vet that night (it was nearly 10pm). Instead, I called our local vet first thing in the morning to see if they could fit her in. Unfortunately, their schedule was full, so I took Athena to SouthPaws emergency again.

Off to the Emergency Room

SouthPaws was also rather busy. Once she was brought inside, it took about 10 minutes for someone to call me — her vitals were all great — and I was informed it could be up to 2 hours before she was seen.

It took almost those full two hours before the vet called me. She’d completed an initial examination and her plan was to give Athena some pain meds then shave the area. She wanted to see if there were any more wounds and if the larger wound required a staple to close.

She was as confused as Jim and I as to the cause of the wounds. During the phone call, we were able to rule out an attack by the boys due to the lack of blood. She would withhold judgement on a skin disease until she could get a better look.

After another couple of hours, I called SouthPaws to get an update, and to see if it would make more sense for me to go home. I was really tired of sitting at the local Starbucks. But, they were finally about to shave and examine her. So, I gathered my stuff together and got some lunch.

And, of course, right after I got my food, before even taking a bite, I got a call to go back to SouthPaws for Athena’s discharge. I’ve never eaten a sandwich faster.

Once they had me situated in a room, it was, thankfully, all good news. There were no other wounds. The largest wound would heal on its own, no need for a staple. There was no sign of infection or any skin condition. And, she’d lost a pound, so her weight was back in the normal range.

Athena, of course, would argue that the cone of shame they put on her was bad news.

Athena resting dejectedly in her cone of shame

The vet suggested that I schedule a follow-up for a week later to check how Athena’s wounds were healing and to discuss alternate allergy treatments. Her best guess for the cause of Athena’s wounds was accidental self-infliction due to itchiness.

Athena's wounds after getting shaved

I got Athena home and fed the cats their wet food while Jim went out to get Athena a donut to replace the cone. Poor Athena couldn’t even eat with the cone on.

Granted, she wasn’t any happier about the donut, but at least she could eat and drink on her own.

Athena wearing the blue donut collar Jim bought.
Can you feel the hate?

We found out the next day that she could reach her wound around the donut, so we ordered a wider — and cuter — one from Amazon. She was even less happy about it, but at least it kept her from impeding her healing.

One benefit to her donut, though, is that the younger boys are scared of the “donut monster” and leave her alone.

A Positive Follow-Up

SouthPaws had sent us home with a foam to put on her wounds, DouxoS3 SEB, and either it’s a miracle foam, or Athena heals insanely fast. By her follow-up appointment on the 14th — precisely one week later — her wounds were fully healed and the scabs were falling off. Our vet said we could leave off the donut.

We also discussed allergy options:

  1. See a specialist. A specialist could test Athena for allergies and, if they found any, they could try exposure therapy to reduce the allergy.
  2. Steroids. Steroids are the standard practice for cat allergies, but they are also immunosuppressants. Our vet wanted us to check with the FIP group first.
  3. Apoquel. Aqpoquel is an allergy treatment for dogs, but cats often respond well to it. It’s less immunosuppressant than steroids, so could be a better choice for her.
  4. Switch allergy medicine. Athena was on chlorpheniramine maleate, but Claritin is another commonly prescribed allergy medicine for cats.

Because the other options all required some amount of waiting, we started with the switch to Claritin. She gets 2.5mg — half of a kid’s 5mg dose — daily.

Our vet was also somewhat concerned about the flaky scabbing — Athena’s typical patches — on both front forelegs. The concern was for the size of the patches as they covered most of both forelegs between elbow and paw. Our vet advised me to keep an eye on it.

With everything going on, our vet decided to wait to do Athena’s regular exam, rather than do everything that day, as I’d hoped.

Since Athena was finally healed, I gave her a bath that afternoon — she was about 2 weeks overdue. Between the bath and Claritin, she was scratching significantly less, and her arms healed quickly. She didn’t like me combing them with the flea comb, but I managed to get all of the scabbing off in three combing sessions.

We ended up having to consign Athena back to the donut because she overgroomed her shaved area and irritated the new skin. Thankfully, within a week, it was healed enough to let her back out of the donut.

Her Normal Exam

Her normal exam was on the morning of the 29th. There was a bit of a mix-up. I’d mentioned at her follow up appointment that if her bloodwork and vaccines could be taken care of at that appointment, we could cancel the normal exam appointment. But, since the vet wanted to wait, we kept the normal exam. Somehow that got confused to “please cancel her normal exam appointment.”

But, they made sure to fit her in — probably easier because it was morning. Because they were having to fit her in — and her eyes haven’t shown any sign of issues —I didn’t push for the intraocular pressure [def] test or Schirmer tear test [def]. The bloodwork and vaccines were more important.

While we waited, everyone admired the butterfly harness I had her in. She wouldn’t let me get a good photo, but at least you can see the wings. The staff all proclaimed her the cutest little thing.

Athena in her harness

Athena’s weight was till good, at 9.5 lbs. And the vet was very happy with how Athena looked. This was the new vet who took over for the vet who moved to Florida. I provided a quick run-down of Athena’s history, and I’m pretty sure the new vet has experience with post-FIP cats.

Athena was good for her blood draw and her vaccines. It’s usually recommended to wait for about a year post “cure” for vaccines. Unfortunately, we aren’t comfortable leaving her home with the younger boys while we’re on vacation, and the boarding place requires proof of vaccination.


It took a few days to hear back about Athena’s results. The vet was fairly happy, content to wait and see if the abnormal values will work themselves out, especially since she’s doing so well otherwise.

Unfortunately, her neutrophils [def] have dropped again, and her MCV [def] and reticulocyte hemoglobin [def], are both low, which indicate anemia. We’ve got a question out to her FIP caseworkers to see if anemia post-FIP is normal. Once we have an answer, we’ll decide what to do next.

Her sodium [def] and chloride [def] are both just barely low, and they might be related to the anemia. My guess is that Athena will end up getting an iron shot, but we’ll see.

Since Athena is, generally, doing so well, I’m going to do my best to remember that vets treat patients, not numbers.

Test3 Mo PC 9/291 Mo PC 7/28O Wk 12 6/30O Wk 8 6/2O Wk 4 5/2T Wk 15 4/4T Wk 11 3/6T Wk 8 2/13T Wk 4 1/26Ref. rangeUnit
Hematocrit35.638.737. – 52.7percent
Neutrophils2.2264.0341.7392.1922.4953.2953.6182.2444.5602.62 – 15.17thousands per cubic milliliter
Bilirubin0.10.1< – 0.3milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
Total Protein8. – 8.8grams per deciliter (g/dL)
Albumin333. – 3.9g/dL
Globulins5. – 5.9g/dL
A/G ratio0. – 1.2
ALT42323830352425262827 – 158international units per liter
T: Treatment; O: Observation; PC: Post Cured

I’ve also updated her FIP Bloodwork Google Sheets file, which includes all of the blood work values that could be related to FIP and her blood work history dashboard.

Her next appointment is on November 28, so my next post about her should be a few days after that. We keep shelling out the money for her, but it’s worth it.

Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you found this update on Athena informative. If you’d like to keep up with her progress, be sure to subscribe to my blog, check her tag page, or follow the AthenaUpdate hashtag on Instagram.

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