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Athena: Is She Cured?

Posted in Cat

This post is a continuation of my series on her treatment and integration into the household. If you haven’t already, I suggest reading my previous posts on her. You can find them on her tag page.

Like the previous posts, this one is in a journal-esque format. I’m covering major/important events and updates, rather than what happens each day.

There are some 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.

Week 23

June 2 (Day 59): I took Athena to her second post-treatment vet appointment. She’s gained a whole pound since her last appointment! The little lazy goddess. We’ll need to get her up and moving more.

Per usual, she had blood drawn to run a standard complete blood panel (CBC) and chemistry panel (CHEM). The vet also tested her thyroid levels and proBNP [def] to be certain everything is still normal there.

Her eye test results were within the normal range, but the color of Athena’s eye gunk concerned the vet slightly, so she prescribed the same antibiotic ointment Athena’s received for each of her previous eye issues—Erythromycin 0.5% ophthalmic ointment—to be applied twice daily.

Our vet also carefully removed the scabbing from the patch Athena keeps going after. This was the first time she’d done that in front of me, and I was surprised to see she used a basic flea comb to lightly coax it loose, like you’d do with a bad hair tangle. She suggested we avoid bathing Athena for a couple of weeks, but leave her in the onesie, to see if we can get that particular area to fully heal. It’s the last one Athena is still going after.

Last, but certainly not least, we found out our vet is moving to Florida!!! *Sadness* She’ll still be here for Athena’s final post-treatment exam, so, assuming all goes well, she’ll get to see Athena be declared cured. Now we just have to figure out what to get her as a going away gift.

Carry over from previous post$17,398.15
Office call: recheck$73
Lab work$420
Tonometry/intraocular pressure (IOP)$51
Schirmer Tear Test$45.50
Antibiotic Ointment$45
Visit Total$634.50
Running Total$18,032.65

Week 24

June 3 (Day 60): With Dante being a total goober, we decided to test FELIWAY — a calming pheromones diffuser — again, as it worked well when Sandy and Dante were having problems. We stopped it before because Bumbledore was allergic to it. Right now, household harmony — and reducing Athena’s stress — is more important than Bumbledore’s sniffles. We’ll increase his allergy medicine to help. We also got a different version, FELIWAY Optimum, to see if he’d be less allergic to it than the first version we tried, FELIWAY MultiCat.

June 5 (Day 62): Our vet was really happy with Athena’s results. And, at first glance, they do look pretty good. But, when looking at the results in comparison with her other results. I’m a little concerned. Her total protein and globulin levels are creeping up while her neutrophils and ALT levels are dropping. I’m going to send the results and the chart below to our caseworkers and see what they have to say.

Her reticulocyte hemoglobin, neutrophils, and chloride were outside of the normal range by 1, 0.428, and 3 units respectively.

TestCurrent Results (6/2)Week 19 (5/2)Week 15 (4/4)Week 11 (3/6)Week 8 (2/13)Week 4 (1/26)Ref. rangeUnit
Hematocrit39.043.145.343.934.93828.2 – 52.7percent
Neutrophils2.1922.4953.2953.6182.2444.5602.62 – 15.17thousands per cubic milliliter
Bilirubin0. – 0.3milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
Total Protein8. – 8.8grams per deciliter (g/dL)
Albumin3. – 3.9g/dL
Globulins5. – 5.9g/dL
A/G ratio0. – 1.2
ALT30352425262827 – 158international units per liter
The IDEXX test our local vet runs has different reference values than the test SouthPaws uses (week 4 results). I’ve included the IDEXX ranges on this chart

I unplugged Athena’s heated mat to get her to move around a bit more. She’s never been a highly active cat, but it was god to see her leave her corner for something other than food, water, and litterbox use.

Athena Sleeping
We put a memory foam butt pillow on a stool. Athena approves, especially as the afternoon sun starts coming in the window.

June 6 (Day 63): First item of note: Athena got her last B12 shot! I also sent Athena’s results to our FIP caseworkers. Once I hear back from them, I’ll call our vet about the worrying trends.

Of her own accord, Athena chose to get up and walk around some, even though I’d left her mat plugged in.

I brushed Athena again and sprayed her with the soothing spray. She was happy to be brushed, but, unsurprisingly, she pitched a fit again when I put her back in her onesie. She can be such a goober.

June 7 (Day 64): Athena was up and walking around some today, even though I didn’t turn off her heating pad. She seems to really enjoy spending time in Jim’s office, something Ritz isn’t particularly happy about.

She was also attacking her onesie. She was biting at it so aggressively, I heard her through my headphones. We decided to take it off for a while to let her groom some and see if it will help. I still plan to brush and spray her nightly for a while.

She’s been in her onesies for so long at this point that she looks weird naked.

She and Dante are also having issues. If Dante doesn’t start leaving her alone, she’s going to retaliate. While I don’t want it to get to that point, it may be the only way for him to learn.

He’s pushing her too hard. I don’t know if he wants a playmate or if he’s being a bully. They aren’t fighting, it’s more Dante gets too close, or starts chasing Athena, and she is VERY vocal about her displeasure as she runs away.

June 8 (Day 65): Dante was bullying Athena again. I moved the FELIWAY diffuser closer to Athena to see if that helps any. If not, we’re calling this experiment a failure. To be honest, it sems like it’s made their relationship worse.

During her evening brushing, I noticed a bit of irritation to her existing problem spot, but she’s mostly leaving it alone. Perhaps it’s finally healing?

June 9 (Day 66): We’re abandoning the FELIWAY experiment. Dante is definitely bullying more, and not just Athena. He even went after Bumbledore this morning!

Athena decided to seek refuge in Jim’s office.

Athena staring out the window in Jim's office
I borrowed this photo from Jim’s Instagram.

Week 25

June 10 (Day 67): Following our vet’s example, I picked up a flea comb today to demat Athena’s problem patches. It seems to be easier when I spritz her fur with a bit of water. I was able to get a lot of skin flakes loose, and the patches were noticeably softer once I finished.

June 11 (Day 68): I dematted her with the flea comb again. I have to be very gentle or she gets grouchy. As long as I’m gentle, she doesn’t seem to mind it much. I also pat the areas dry when I’m done so she doesn’t go right back to grooming.

June 13 (Day 70): Only a couple of spots had anything to demat. I think we’ve found a solution to this problem!

I forgot to mark the anniversary in the last post, but today makes seven months since Athena’s vet visit that started this whole saga.

June 16 (Day 73): Success! Athena didn’t have any patches to work on today.

Week 26

June 17 (Day 74): Dante’s only gotten worse since we unplugged the FELIWAY, so we called the vet and got instructions for weaning him off of Prozac. It’s turned him into a total jerk, and I’m concerned about Athena’s stress levels.

June 18 (Day 75): We finally got a real response from our caseworkers about my concern over Athena’s blood work results — well, sort of. To be honest, I’d given up. They agreed that her numbers are concerning, and asked me to transfer the data to their Google Sheets template — I don’t know why they haven’t given us the template before now. I got everything dropped in to a new file and sent it over to them. Feel free to check it out yourself.

June 20 (Day 77): As it’s gotten warmer, Athena has taken to getting fully off her mat when she gets too warm, as opposed to just hanging off of it somewhat. I can only assume that this is because there isn’t any cold air leeching in through the glass doors she lays in front of. She doesn’t go far, though, just enough to be fully on the cool floor.

Athena lying on a doormat
This is Athena’s favorite spot when she gets too warm on her heating mat.

June 21 (Day 78): Athena’s jumping abilities have significantly improved. She’s easily jumping up onto the counters now. Of course, this means we’re having to teach her that cats don’t belong on food surfaces.

June 23 (Day 80): We’ve hit six months since the start of Athena’s treatment! That’s pretty hard to believe.

Week 27

June 25 (Day 82): Well, after almost an entire month, the answer from our caseworkers is basically… watch and wait. *sigh* They aren’t any happier with her numbers than I am, but since she has no clinical symptoms indicative of FIP right now, and the numbers aren’t actually at FIP levels, there’s not much to do.

I’d been hoping to get an idea of how often they see numbers like this post-treatment, but oh well. Jim and I have decided to continue Athena’s monthly blood work until her numbers stabilize.

June 26 (Day 83): We’re trying something else on Dante. We have some calming collars that we bought on Amazon a while back. We discontinued use pretty quickly because they set off Bumbledore’s allergies, but since we’re desperate, we’re going to try again. Hopefully it will get him to leave Athena alone.

We’ve also decided what we’re going to give our vet as a going-away present. Jim is going to do some abstract watercolor work, and I’m going to get all four kitties’ paw prints along the bottom. I took care of the paw prints this evening, which was surprisingly easy.

June 27 (Day 84): With confirmation from our FIP caseworkers that Athena’s blood work results trends are concerning, I requested Athena’s tonometry/IOP and Schirmer Tear Test result history from our vet to see if those have been on a worrying trend as well. Hopefully those won’t be as worrisome.

Athena looking at the camera in Jim's office
Another photo borrowed from Jim’s Instagram

The calming collar already seems to be helping. Dante was much calmer today, and didn’t bug Athena once. *Fingers crossed* that this will be a solution.

Unfortunately, Jim didn’t like how the first attempt at a present for our vet turned out. However, another one he did was perfect, so I redid the pawprints. Thankfully, Athena, Bumbledore, and Ritz were equally chill about it. Dante didn’t let me catch him, so I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

For some reason, mobile browsers don’t like embedded Instagram posts. So, if you want to see an adorable Athena video, you can check it out on Instagram.

June 28 (Day 85): I got Athena’s eye pressure results from the vet. It’s difficult to get a “normal” range for the IOP because many sources I found disagree. I’ve included the information I found on my Veterinary Definitions and Resources page. I developed the “normal” range below by taking the average of both the low and high values I found.

I don’t think I’ll get the tear production results before this post goes live, but I’ll either add them as soon as I get them, or I’ll remove that column if I find out getting those results isn’t an easy ask. Update 7-3-23: I’ve updated the tear production column. Turns out there is a similar issue with a “normal” range for tear production to IOP. I need to do a bit more research, but I’ll add that information to the Veterinary Definitions and Resources page as well.

DateEye Pressure (L | R)Tear Production (L | R)
Normal Values11.4 – 2210.797 – 18.63
11/14/227 | 618 | 15
11/23/2217 | 29– –
11/24/2213 | 18– –
11/30/2215 | 13– –
12/26/2210 | 10– –
2/13/2312 | 1915 | 8
3/6/2318 | 167 | 9
4/4/2312 | 1714 | 7
4/21/2317 | 18– –
5/2/2318 | 1812 | 15
6/2/2313 | 1710 | 13

I managed to catch Dante to get his pawprint. We’ve got a frame arriving tomorrow, but here’s out vet’s going away/thank you present. She has been amazing and we’re going to miss her.

Our present to our vet

June 29 (Day 86): To satisfy my own curiosity, and to get an idea of what Athena’s trend lines look like, I put together a Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) dashboard of her most important blood work levels.

As I mentioned before, the trends for them are a bit concerning. Here’s hoping the additions from tomorrow’s blood work changes things.

June 30 (Day 87): Today was Athena’s third post-treatment vet visit. If her numbers are still within normal range, she’ll be considered cured. She has zero clinical symptoms. Her skin sores are gone and her fur has mostly grown back — except for the small patches from injection sores. Her eyes looked so good that our vet didn’t see a need to test her IOP or run a Schirmer Tear Test.

We briefly discussed my concern over the trend in Athena’s numbers, and our vet shared an important piece of advice her mentor had shared with her when she was just starting her career: “We treat patients, not numbers.” She warned me that there is a chance Athena’s numbers will never be normal again, and may never truly stabilize. We need to pay attention to Athena, rather than fixate on numbers. That’s not to say her blood work isn’t important, it is, but how Athena is doing is just as important, if not more so.

As a side note, Dante’s collar is definitely working. For the first time in months he crawled up on Jim, and even curled up with him and fell asleep for a little bit. He’s been much less contentious with the rest of the household, which is great because it means Athena’s stress levels are lower.

Office call: recheck$73
Lab work$420
Visit Total$493
Running Total$18,525.65

I still plan to continue with monthly blood work for another couple of months, to see if Athena’s numbers will stabilize at all, and to sooth my own fears. But, I’m optimistic that we can consider her cured come Monday when we get the results back. Keep your fingers crossed for me that her numbers have stabilized or improved rather than worsened.

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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