The important thing that we all need to keep in mind is that Luna’s case is a very small research trial; not a treatment for Luna or any future cats that are fortunate enough to meet the criteria and be accepted. Everyone is desperate for a treatment and a cure, and while it’s seemingly getting closer, there is still much work to be done, facts to collect and analyze, and outcomes to be reported before the drug(s) can be approved and produced for commercial use and “treatment”.
Wednesday, May 3rd, we picked Luna up from the clinic around noon and said our goodbyes to the team. That was the tough part. We are really going to miss them all. If it were easy, I think I’d pack up, move, and go to work there with them if I could! Animals needed nurses too right? However, it’s time for another cat to take Luna’s room and hopefully have a successful trial too!
Our plane was delayed a bit, which meant more carrier time for Luna. It’s not easy traveling so long and far with a cat in a carrier under the seat. You are not technically allowed to hold the carrier on your lap to place a hand inside to pet and calm their anxiety; they want it kept stowed. That said, I pushed this rule a few times while some flight attendants turned a blind eye and most enforced the rules with every pass of our row. Luna did great during the flight out (she was very sick and very quiet), but she was a total ball of fury on the way home! (a sight for sore eyes, but tough to deal with).
We arrived home at around 1:00 a.m. and Luna was a crazy maniac. We couldn’t get her to use her litter box (it’d been nearly 12 hours) as all she wanted to do was play and run and who can blame her after a long day in a duffel bag under a seat? She has a new lease on life, no heavy belly to drag around, pent-up energy from her convalescence and travel. She wasn’t even interested in eating or drinking. We let her tear up and down the stairs at lightening speed, hide under the bed covers and slide across the wood floors until she wore herself out and curled up for the night. What a sight to behold considering she did nothing but lay around and sleep for the last two weeks. We really hope this is how she stays and want nothing more than for her to live and for her trial to bring hope to all future effusive FIP sufferers. Her little body has been through so much, yet you’d never know it to see her now.
One opinion I have (I’m not brave enough to call it advice) for those who are working on diagnosing their cats with FIP is to give lots of thought to all the symptoms your cat has before spending money (about $400) on a fluid PCR test. It’s costly and mostly inaccurate, as false negative results are common: “FIP viral mRNA not detectable” is a common result, when indeed, the cat has full-blown FIP, especially when correlated with the clinical signs. The biggest hallmark sign, being the yellowish, fibrous, peritoneal fluid. No other disease has fluid with this type/consistency. Luna had anemia, lethargy, a hugely distended abdomen, piloerection and dullness to her coat, persistent fever, a grade 2-3 heart murmur (that was not there on two earlier exams) and the yellow, fibrous fluid. We also paid for an echocardiogram and a cardiology consult (another $500) to rule out cardiac disease; which I would not do again either, given a suggestive FIP diagnosis. What good is a cardiac diagnosis if FIP is present anyways; it changes nothing other than to add more financial stress.
The fact is, owners want concrete answers and let emotions and hope guide their judgment; I know that we did, even though my gut said otherwise. We want to hear that our cat has anything other than FIP, so we will pay anything for that chance. It’s a tough diagnosis to accept and a falsely negative PCR will only lead to false hope, more cost, and frustration in trying to figure out what else it could be…when all along it’s still FIP, a diagnosis of exclusion and certain demise.
As for yesterday, our first full day home, Luna was up at 8:00 with her papa as he left for work and she made sure that I did not sleep one minute. She wanted her wet food and she wanted to bite, bat at my face, and play until she got it. After she ate and got her play out of her system, it was time for her shot and rectal temperature and I was all on my own to do it! I called my friend and neighbor Kelly (Luna’s godmother lol) to come over and help. We got the job done. It wasn’t pretty, but it was fast. One down, many, many more to go. She hated me for about one minute, then was off and running again as if nothing had happened. Luna had a fabulous rest of the day and evening, engaging in self-play, hiding in Amazon boxes, dragging around bubble wrap and chasing ping-pong balls.
This morning was a repeat of yesterday morning. She was awake and ready to conquer the day. I gave her shot solo this time, using a new technique that I came up with that actually worked well. I put on her harness, which tends to calm her down a bit, held her head in my armpit so she could not turn around to bite me and got it in. The medicine is very thick, so the shot takes a bit more time and pressure then most other drugs to inject. I used the same holding technique for the rectal temp. I found a 2-second thermometer at Walgreens, so it goes very fast. I just hope it’s accurate! The shots will be easier this weekend since Jamie and I will both be here. The other alternative is to do it at 6:00 a.m. when he gets up for work. The only issue is that I don’t get home from work until midnight and I’m just not all that dapper and patient at 6:00 a.m.! But we will do anything for our little LUNAtic!!
The hardest part of this research trial is the unknown. Will she relapse? How far out can a relapse occur…weeks, months, years? We will always be worried and watching her like a hawk and with one eye open for sure.