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Athena: On To Observation

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 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.

Week 15

April 2 (Day 100): We ran out of pills for Athena. Because her next appointment is on the 4th, and we still have plenty of injectable medication, we haven’t ordered more pills. If we get bad news from the vet visit, we’ll order more. We’re also letting Athena stay out all night, as she’s been doing so well during the day.

April 3 (Day 101): Athena did well overnight. There are no signs of fights between the kitties. I tried bringing her upstairs to show her that there is a heating mat available there, but she DID NOT like that, objecting most strenuously.

April 4 (Day 102): Athena had her week 15 vet visit.

Her weight is holding steady. She’s been at 8.4 lbs for a few weeks now.

Per usual, Athena had blood drawn to run a standard complete blood panel (CBC) and chemistry panel (CHEM). But unlike normal, our vet gave Athena a lovely cuddle which she happily enjoyed.

Carry over from previous post$16,209.15
Office call: recheck$73
Lab work$286
Schirmer Tear Test$45.50
Visit Total$404.50
Running Total$16,613.65

April 5 (Observation Day 1): Once again, our vet called right at 8:00 am. She had the best news. While Athena’s blood work wasn’t perfect, the FIP-related values were practically normal! Athena’s ALT values are still low, but within 3 units of normal. And we’re hoping that they’ll improve as her teeth continue healing and she eats better.

We shared her blood work results with our caseworkers, and they agreed that she gets to graduate to the observation phase of treatment and recovery. This means 84 days (another 12 weeks) of close monitoring of symptoms and blood work every 4 weeks. But, no more shots!

Athena lounging on a pillow
TestResultsWeek 11 ResultsWeek 8 ResultsWeek 4 ResultsRef. rangeUnit
Hematocrit45.343.934.93828.2 – 52.7percent
Neutrophils3.2953.6182.2442.62 – 15.17thousands per cubic milliliter
Bilirubin0. – 0.3milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
Total Protein8. – 8.8grams per deciliter (g/dL)
Albumin2. – 3.9g/dL
Globulins5. – 5.9g/dL
A/G ratio0. – 1.2
ALT2425262827 – 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

Her hemoglobin is up to 13.5 g/dL, right in the middle of the normal range (10.3-16.2 g/dL), so she’s no longer anemic. Some other values we’ve been monitoring are improved or still borderline:

  • Reticulocyte Hemoglobin [def]: Up to 15.5 picograms (pg) from 14.0; 0.2 pg over the low limit.
  • Sodium: Back down to 146 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) from 148; 1 mmol/L under the low limit.
  • Chloride: Up to 118 mmol/L from 115, bringing her further into normal range.
  • Cholesterol: Dropped to 88 mg/dL from 131; now 3 mg/dL under the low limit.

Two other values are now outside of the normal limits, but there doesn’t seem to be any correlation with FIP:

  • Potassium: Down to 3.4 mmol/L from 4.1; 0.3 mmol/L under low limit
  • Na:K Ratio: Up to 43 from 36; 1 unit above the high limit

Week 16

Although I’m restarting the day count with the start of observation, I’m continuing the week count from diagnosis.

April 8 (Day 4): Somehow, overnight, a large (about 1 inch wide by 2 inches long) bald patch developed on Athena’s back. Her skin looked a little irritated, but there was no blood or obvious scratches. We couldn’t find any sign that she tried to squeeze under something and scraped her back. We’ll keep an eye on the patch to see if she needs to go to the vet. But, for now, we sprayed the patch with Vetericyn and ordered her a little cat onesie to keep her from accessing it.

Athena sleeping curled up against Jim's thigh

April 9 (Day 5): Jim captured an adorable video of Athena’s first experience with a catnip toy. She rather enjoyed it. Also, her onesie arrived. She is NOT happy about it, but she can’t get to the patch now. We sprayed the patch with Vetericyn again before putting her in it.

April 10 (Day 6): The patch is developing an odd texture, despite spraying it twice a day, so we’ve made a vet appointment for her. Unfortunately, the first available appointment is the 14th.

Jim asked about the patch on the post-treatment Facebook group, and losing hair seems to be fairly normal after cats graduate to observation phase.

April 11 (Day 7): Her patch now seems to be scabbed over. It doesn’t look like a normal scab, but it feels bumpy like one.

April 14 (Day 10): Our vet took a good look at Athena’s patch. She carefully removed the scab to make sure that there weren’t any issues under it, and was happy to find healthy skin. She suggested we try removing Athena’s onesie to see if she’d leave the patch alone.

Since the appointment was a drop-off, I didn’t give Athena her eye drop in the morning, so I asked if they wanted to test her eye pressure, which they decided to do.

I forgot to ask what her pressure values were, but both eyes were within normal range, so we’re testing one week without eye drops. Fingers crossed that she does well and we can keep her off of medicine.

Tonometry/intraocular pressure$51
Visit Total$144
Running Total$16,757.65

After I brought Athena home from her vet appointment, she got some time to relax on the bed, and seemed to really enjoy it.

Athena lounging on the bed

Week 17

April 15 (Day 11): We left Athena’s onesie on overnight in case removing the scab caused any irritation, but we took it off this morning, and she seems to be leaving it alone.

April 16 (Day 12): Well, it was too good to be true. Athena clearly scratched at her first patch last night. On top of that, she’s been scratching around her neck, and she has another patch developing. So, we put her back in her onesie and ordered two more so we can change them regularly.

April 17 (Day 13): Athena is exploring upstairs a little bit, even though she’s clearly unhappy to be back in her onesie. While upstairs, she apparently found the sound of chips interesting. She came over to Jim, and he gave her a tiny taste of a basic potato chip. She gobbled it down with glee.

April 18 (Day 14): I had fun playing with Athena, and was able to capture a video of her batting at a toy while lounging on the sofa.

Athena loves chin scritchies

April 21 (Day 17): Athena had her one-week follow up at the vet. Her eye pressure is still good, so she gets to stay off of the eye drops. I asked about options to help with Athena’s skin and the sneeziness she deals with.

Our vet is reluctant to try steroids to help with Athena’s skin, given she’s only just stopped FIP treatment. However, we’re trying allergy medicine — chlorpheniramine maleate 4 mg — to see if the sneezing is from allergies. She can have a half pill twice a day, but we’re going to start with half a pill once a day.

Tonometry/intraocular pressure$51
Visit Total$51
Running Total$16,808.65

Week 18

April 22 (Day 18): Athena curled up next to me on the sofa while I was playing video games. Then, amazingly, when Bumbledore came to sit with me, she didn’t have a problem. For about an hour, I had a delightful time with a kitty on either side of me.

Athena on my left, Bumbledore on my right.

April 24 (Day 20): For some reason, Athena started meowing a lot while staring out the sliding glass door. Our best guess is that she wants to go outside. Since she hasn’t been itching too much, we decided to try taking off her onesie.

April 25 (Day 21): Unfortunately, last night she scratched at her original patch, leaving noticeable marks, so we put her onesie back on. She also over-groomed last night, but Jim says she does this every spring, so I’m not going to worry too much about it right now. We’ll keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t have any major signs of anxiety or skin issues.

On the plus side, Athena explored some upstairs, peeking into Jim’s office and the cat room.

April 28 (Day 24): Athena stared at the boys’ food bowls when they were fed, so I tried moving her food bowl upstairs as well. She was a little uncertain about eating lunch next to Bumbledore, but she did settle down and eat, so, win!

Week 19

April 29 (Day 25): Athena had a fun time playing on the bed during morning cat relaxing time. It was adorable. Her eyes were enormous, and her tail got SO POOFY!

Later in the afternoon, she curled up next to me on the sofa again while I played video games. She’s just so freaking adorable!!!

Athena curled up, snoozing, against my leg

That’s the best image, but there are several more on Instagram.

Her next blood work appointment is tomorrow. There is no indication that she’s had any relapse, but it will be good to get definitive confirmation. I’m also eager to ensure her eyes are still doing well.

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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