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Athena: 1 Year Cured

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Today, Jim and I are celebrating the anniversary of a momentous occasion. One year ago, Athena was declared cured of FIP. Allow me a moment of pure, unadulterated joy that our little goddess is not only still here with us, but going strong. Even just five years ago, there would have been a high chance we wouldn’t be able to say that.

Breaking News!

The U.S. has taken a step forward in FIP treatment. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they have effectively decriminalized vets providing treatment to FIP patients. Stokes Pharmacy started selling a compounded treatment — in this case a pill form — on June 1. While we’re still a ways from the legalized treatment available in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands — I can’t find any other countries listed as having legalized the treatment — it’s definitely a huge improvement. I can only hope that this development will make treatment more accessible, both in availability and price.

Now, back to Athena.

Athena giving me an annoyed look
No shortage of purr-sonality from this little goddess.

Vet visit

Let’s get the “business” out of the way first. Her most recent vet visit — May 30 — went well.

She had the eye tests this time, both the tonometry and Schirmer Tear Test to follow up on her past eye issues. Athena’s intraocular pressure was right in the middle of normal range for both eyes. Her tear production was a little low on the left, and just within normal on the right.

Her weight was down some, likely because she’s been more active recently, so we’re increasing her food just a bit. We don’t want her to keep losing weight.

Someone, somewhere, wants to keep me paranoid, because she still had two numbers outside the normal range:

  • Her neutrophils were up from 1.247 to 2.346, but that’s still 0.274 below the low normal value.
  • Her ALT is one below the low normal at 26. The vet isn’t worried, so I’m trying not to be worried. But I’ll feel much better if her next results have a normal ALT.
Test11 Mo PC 5/308 Mo PC 2/275 Mo PC 11/283 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
Hematocrit39.239.739.935.638.737. – 52.7percent
Neutrophils2.3461.2471.1522.2264.0341.7392.1922.4953.2953.6182.2444.5602.62 – 15.17thousands per cubic milliliter
Bilirubin0.< – 0.3milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
Total Protein8. – 8.8grams per deciliter (g/dL)
Albumin3.13.23.2333. – 3.9g/dL
Globulin5. – 5.9g/dL
A/G ratio0. – 1.2
ALT26303642323830352425262827 – 158international units per liter
T: Treatment; O: Observation; PC: Post Cured

As always, 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 visit is scheduled for August 30. If you’re interested in seeing her numbers, mark your calendar for September 5th — give or take — as that will allow time for the results to come back and for me to update her data.

Continued life after FIP

Athena watching a squirrel eat
Athena is always the first at the window when Mr. Squirrel arrives.

With that out of the way, I can move on to the main point of this post.

There is, unfortunately, still very little information available on a cat’s life after FIP. And information on “dry FIP” survivors — like Athena — is basically non-existent. While I run sporadic Google searches — usually traversing through the first 10ish pages of results — I’ve only found one study with anything remotely close to authoritative data. However, it’s focused on any sign of relapse within one year of treatment, and only followed 18 cats. The authors note, “Whether delayed neurological signs could be a long-term adverse effect of the treatment or associated with a ‘long FIP syndrome’ needs to be further evaluated.”

I understand why the information is so hard to come by. Consider this drill down of available information sources:

  • Only about 10% of cats will be afflicted with FIP. Of those cases, 80% will experience “wet FIP.”
  • A tiny percentage of total cases receive treatment
  • A small percentage of patients — in treatment or cured — are near a research location and can be regularly monitored

That doesn’t leave a whole lot of data points. On top of that, medication is only legally available to vets in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom — U.S. vets can procure treatment without fear of FDA reprisals, although it is not technically “legal.” So, understandably, research focus is still geared toward gathering information necessary to legalize treatment in additional countries.

However, that research focus makes it difficult for paranoid post-FIP cat parents — like myself — to find information. I still have so many questions about Athena’s future:

  • Did FIP or FIP treatment have any impact on her life expectancy?
  • Are there any residual effects of treatment?
  • Are there any long-term health problems / Is there a “long FIP syndrome?” After all, there’s a “long COVID” and both diseases are caused by a coronavirus.
  • Are there specific things that should be avoided because of susceptibility after FIP? E.g., do we need to be extra careful with her weight because she’ll be more susceptible to diabetes?

That’s part of why I write these posts. Athena is only one data point, but it’s better than nothing. Which leads to my next points.

Athena sleeping on my computer
Miss Athena discovered the joys of a warm laptop. It took a lot of work to get her to understand it it NOT an acceptable heating pad.

General health and life

Athena’s dry eye issues may be a post-FIP thing. Other members of the FIP Warriors post-treatment Facebook group reported post-cure eye issues as well. Granted, it’s virtually impossible to know for sure because we don’t have any pre-FIP data for Athena beyond her tendency to get eye infections. And that could have been because she was an outdoor cat constantly getting into things.

One thing I know for certain is that we’ve found a solution to Athena’s post-FIP skin issues. We’ve been bathing her with Douxo S3 Calm shampoo every 3 weeks since early February and she’s virtually stopped her scratching.

She still overgrooms her legs, but we think that’s a stress response to the boys bothering her.

Even on that front, though, there’s hope. Here altercations with Ritz are down to about half of what they once were. But, there is minimal change in her relationship with Dante, unfortunately. Maybe as Ritz continues maturing and leaves off bothering Athena, Dante will be encouraged to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, our dear girl is doing fabulously. She’s settled into indoor cat life, with no interest in going outside except when one of the squirrels is outside. She loves lazing around on her heating pad. And she adores Jim. She is dad’s girl through and through.

Moving forward, I’ll update her dashboard after every vet visit — her next one is August 30 — but I’ll only write a post on her diagnosis and cure anniversaries unless something major happens. So, no news is good news. You can, of course, follow me or Jim on Instagram, as we both post photos of her. And, for this post, all I have left to do is to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who donated to her treatment. Thank you to Dr. Nessim who cared for her so well, and Dr. Young who continues to to care for her. And thank you to anyone who shares the information with other cat parents dealing with FIP.

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.

Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed this update on Athena. 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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