Saturday, August 7, 2010

FIP. Is it or isn't it?!

This is Santee.
She is one of 4 calico kittens I am fostering.
They have had a rough start, and have overcome some tough times
When they came to me on June 20th, 2010 they were suffering from a nasty parasite. With some special care and medication they were able to get well and strong.
Eight days later, on June 28th, Santee developed a swollen belly that is still there after several de-wormers, antibiotics and changes in diet.
On July 4th, Santee had a high fever, we went to the vet and she said it looked like FIP and took some fluid from her belly to test. The result "at this time it does not look like FIP."
Ok, so we exhaled a little bit. She told me to keep de-worming and bring her back in 3 to 4 weeks. As her fever was finishing running its course, her sister, Teton, got a fever. Then Tanka, all fevers ran their course within 5 days.
Here is a picture of Santee on July 10, 2010.
All this time, all 4 kittens are gaining weight, playing, snuggling, pouncing, and playing tag. They are doing all the things a normal kitten should.
So, on July 29th, we went back to the vet. She still feels strongly it is FIP. She runs an FIP Elisa test which came out negative. This time I not only exhaled, I cried like a baby with relief. So we talked about what it might be, could it be a congenital organ issue, a disease of one of her organs, this, that. What are the next steps? Ultrasound, bloodwork, another fecal sample?
She said call me back in 4 to 6 weeks to do the test again. :(
Can someone just tell me what else it MIGHT be?
What other condition shows the symptoms of a swollen abdomen
and a fever but otherwise healthy?
See them in this video!
This is today, August 7, 2010.
Santee is of course the one with the very large belly.

So I suggest we go to another vet I like because he always looks at things from every angle. He never just says "it looks like this" but instead says "it looks like this, but we have to consider x, y, and z because it could be ....". That is who I thought we were going to see.
But, instead he said:
  • The belly doesn't look or feel like an FIP belly, hers is tight and I can feel her organs, an FIP belly is like a water balloon, you can't really feel the organs and you can see a wave of fluid when you pat it - this made me think "Yippee"
  • Then he said, well they are fighting off the fevers, this shows they have a strong immune system, FIP cases usually don't have strong immune systems and can't fight them off - again I am thinking "Yippee"
  • Then I heard this, and my jaw hit the floor and all the wind was knocked out of me "She has a big belly and she's a kitten, I think its FIP" - to which I thought "WHAT???"
  • So the rescuer asks him, ok, so if it isn't FIP, and we know it very well might be, what else might it be? To which he answered, "I think its FIP". AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
And so he recommended we wait for fecal results and, well, that's about it. He said not to do the bloodwork because if he found something in the blood it would not change his course of action which is do a fecal and give them antibiotics in case of a bacteria infection.
And here they are today, playing their little kitty hearts out,
not knowing anything is wrong at all.

So here we are, in search of a vet that has a scientific approach, that will have an open mind and not just see a belly and say "FIP". A vet that will investigate not only FIP, but other possibilities as well as FIP. Honestly, if these kittens started showing other signs of FIP, I would not be questioning their diagnosis. I would be making them as comfortable as possible until the day they become uncomfortable and there is nothing I can do for them. When they start suffering and it is time to let them go.
I worry, what if it is something else that we are not looking at and this condition worsens and they get ill because we were sitting around waiting for them to show signs of FIP.
This is Santee, and she may or may not have FIP.
August 7, 2010
What I know for sure is that she is a fighter, she loves playing and snuggling as much as any other kitty out there and she deserves a fair chance at life and a proper investigation into her symptoms for a proper diagnosis. She does not deserve guesses, and we won't stop looking until we get some answers.

So this is what I am asking you:
  • Has anyone ever seen a kitten have a swollen belly for more than 6 weeks without any of the other FIP symptoms of lethargy, appetite loss, or pain (after 6 weeks of healthy living) begin suffering from FIP?
  • Does anyone know of any other conditions that involve a swollen abdomen, a short term fever and otherwise healthy?
  • Does anyone know a vet (I am out of options) in NYC that has a scientific mind, that will work with us to investigate this in a scientific way (not by popular opinion) that has experience dealing with or researching FIP?
Here is a shot of Santee's belly,
but I recommend you see the videos to get a better view.
Please note, Santee will be snuggled, played with and loved with or without FIP.
If it turns out she has FIP we will do what we can to help her.
If she gets the terrible symptoms of FIP and her quality of life begins to decline and she begins to suffer, we will let her go peacefully and painlessly.
But while she is healthy, while all 4 are healthy, we will keep investigating.
Thank you for reading this and please pass it on to anyone you know that may be able to help.
If you have experience with this or a suggestion please email me at

UPDATE 3/26/11
This was not FIP. It turned out to be a blood parasite. The girls became healthy and were all adopted!
I was advised by Irene de Villiers on the Yahoo Group FIP_Support.
If you are worried or need info go there.
She also runs the Yahoo Group FIP-to-HEALTH.
I suggest anyone with a cat or kitten diagnosed with FIP join these 2 groups asap.

Irene's website - excellent up-to-date information.