When I wrote in my fundraiser post that I’m planning some posts on Athena’s story up to her diagnosis, and updates on her progress, I intended to start with her life before her illness. However, given the timing, it seemed prudent to provide an update on her first week of treatment. My next post will be about her life pre-diagnosis. If you’re interested in that, subscribe to my blog (link below) or bookmark her tag page.
While I will explain everything more fully in upcoming posts, I want to note that Athena is currently living in our downstairs bathroom. When we brought her inside after her first overnight vet stay in November, we didn’t know what she had and needed to keep her isolated from the boys.
Now that we know that she has FIP — and that she’s not contagious — we’re working on integrating her into the household. It will be a slow process, as she’s always been a solo outdoor cat with no real interest in coming inside. She has to become accustomed to both life indoors and sharing space with four male cats — everyone is neutered.
We have to stay with her while she’s out to monitor everyone’s behavior, and because she has the propensity to pee on soft things to mark her territory. Hopefully, she’ll stop doing that once she gets more comfortable.
After receiving Athena’s diagnosis on December 22, Jim reached out to the FIP Warriors group he’d previously contacted to find out what our next step should be. They put him in contact with someone who had some extra vials of medication, which we were able to pick up on Christmas Eve.
After some discussion, we decided her daily shot would be at 9 pm, as we are nearly always home at that time, but it also wouldn’t require us to adjust our sleep schedule. As with many medications, the shot has to be given around the same time every day. We have a roughly 1-hour window around 9 pm to administer it.
Athena was already doing fairly well, given the treatment and medications she had received to that point — and was still receiving. She was eating very well. Her temperature was semi-stable — she still had spikes in the evening, but they were generally gone by morning. But, she was a bit lethargic and wobbly.
She did fine with the needle, but her meows about halfway through the injection and for another minute or so after were heartbreaking. We’d been warned that the medicine stings, but it didn’t prepare us for her reaction.
We had freeze-dried minnow treats on hand and gave her several to occupy her until the stinging stopped. I have to admit, her grumbling while eating was kind of funny.
She wanted cuddles after her shot, and we certainly didn’t deny her. Jim held her until she decided she was feeling better and wanted to get down.
One shot down, 83 to go.
Days 2 and 3
The 25th and 26th weren’t much different. She was still a little lethargic, although showing signs of perking up. Her balance seemed a bit better on the 26th.
She still meowed pitifully after her shot, and she still wanted cuddles after she demolished her minnow treats.
81 shots to go.
We started seeing obvious improvement on the 27th. She ventured out of her bathroom on her own, climbing the first flight of stairs before deciding that was a bit much and retreating to the basement. Her balance was better and she nosed around the basement a bit before heading back to her bathroom.
80 more shots.
As one of the FIP Warriors advisors told us to expect within the first week, Athena turned an obvious corner on the 28th. When we entered her bathroom, we found she had pulled down the towel (we kept one in there to dry our hands) and had knocked her water bowl, as it had a puddle around it.
After she finished her breakfast, she decided to explore the basement and first flight of stairs again. She ran so quickly that she lost her footing (thankfully not on the stairs). She’s going to have to learn that indoor floors don’t provide the traction that grass, dirt, and cement do.
Once she settled back into her bathroom, we closed the door and went to work. Around an hour later, she started crying for attention. When I opened her bathroom door, she shot out of there like a bat out of hell and ran all the way up both flights of stairs.
She enjoyed a bit of exploration, hissing at Sandy and Bumbledore when they came too close. Then she took herself back down to her bathroom and was content until the afternoon when she wanted more attention. I ignored her that time because I don’t want her to learn to cry to get something.
We were advised to rotate the injection site every day, avoiding the back of her neck. After four days up near her shoulder blades, we decided to try down by her hind legs. That was a mistake.
Our poor little girl cried and hissed, even as we distracted her with minnow treats. It was clear she was in more pain with this injection site. We’ll stay away from her legs from now on.
79 shots remaining.
Athena discovered the sink. When I checked on Athena while the cleaners were here — I wanted to make sure she wasn’t too stressed by the noises — she was sitting in the sink. She didn’t seem particularly bothered, and, later in the day at dry food lunch time, and again at wet food diner time, she was in the sink. Maybe she likes that it’s like a little nest?
She seemed less interested in exploring during the day — probably to do with the noisiness. But, when I went down to see her after work, she was happy to explore the basement. She had a promising meeting with Bumbledore, then spent some time on my lap before taking herself back to her bathroom.
Unfortunately, even though we switched back to near her shoulders for the injection site, she still cried pitifully. I felt so bad for her. We distracted her with treats as best as we could, and when she calmed down, I gave her a long cuddle. Poor little girl was making kitten-like noises as I held her and Jim pet her.
I started giving her a pre-shot cuddle, just to help her calm down and relax a bit, but she’s smart and knows what’s coming. She’s a trooper, though, and doesn’t try to run away. And, thankfully, she doesn’t seem to blame us or get mad at us.
78 shots left.
The FIP group advised we start weaning her off of the steroid (she was on it for fever control) since she hasn’t had a fever since before Christmas. Athena will be very happy to get off of her “icky.” She’ll get a dose once a day for five days, then a dose every other day for five doses.
Assuming all goes well, her last dose of steroids will be January 14. We have to carefully monitor her temperature in the meantime, though. If she has another temperature spike, she’ll be back on 1ml twice a day.
Once again, her shot was very painful. She cried, and then, once she calmed down enough for us to draw her attention to the minnow treats, she rage ate, making angry grumble noises while she chewed.
She got her now-customary post shot cuddle until she decided she was done and wanted down.
I wish we’d been more prepared for the pain she’s dealing with. It really hits me hard. Poor little girl.
77 more shots.
One week down, 11 to go. From this point forward, I’m going to share monthly updates on her condition. Those updates will also include how she’s doing with the boys and integrating into the house. Expect those on the first of each month until she is considered cured.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll have posts on Athena’s life before her illness, everything that happened to result in her diagnosis, and about FIP (I need to research that one, so it will be last).
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.