• FIP Articles,  Luna's FIP UCD Trial

    More Information Regarding the Successful FIP Antiviral Drug Trials from the December 2017 AVMA Publication

    “A glimmer of hope for a fatal feline disease Controlling risk factors for feline infectious peritonitis is difficult, while new antiviral drugs show great promise” 
    The clinical trial drug that saved our precious Luna, and many others, discussed here in brief, in a newly published article:
    Luna has hit and passed her 10th month birthday (Nov. 9th).  She is the epitome of health and spunk…hard to believe she was at death’s door in April.  This drug trial, and the one preceding it in 2016, are undeniable proof that antiviral therapy is the future for curing FIP in certain cases.
  • Luna's FIP UCD Trial,  Savannahgans

    Luna’s Drug Trial Update: 16 Weeks Out & 6+ Months FIP-Free.

    I apologize for the lag in updates, but each day that I see more and more cats losing their battles with FIP and owners having to say goodbye to their beloved cats, it gets harder and harder for me to write such upbeat and positive blog posts.  I can’t lie.  I get overwhelmed with guilt that Luna was saved, while so many still can’t be, and to know firsthand that there is a cure and that it could still be years before it can be approved, manufactured, and commercially available.  I know that is not the way I should think or feel, but celebrating Luna’s life and the success of this trial also brings up those emotions too.  Just know that I don’t take this cure for granted and that everyday I continue to read and follow all the stories on the FIP Fighters page.  Some days I can comment and other days it kills me to even go there.  I don’t take this success lightly and I know that we are extremely lucky having been in the right place, at the right time.  I love to share the updates because I also know that it gives hope to all cat owners who worry everyday about their cat getting this dreadful disease and that for those whose cats lost the fight, the knowledge that someone out there is working hard to stop this maddening disease.  I cannot keep this amazing progress to myself and not share it with so many who have supported not only us with Luna, but the other cats/owners who were also able to enroll their cats in this trial who choose to remain out of the spotlight.

    On another happy note, it’s been a true joy to watch Luna get acclimated with the two new Savannah buddies that we got for her in October.  She was a little monster to them the first five days, but once we removed the quarantine barriers and just let them go at it, everything came together about as perfectly as it could have.

    For those who haven’t met the whole brood; Luna (FIP survivor, F3 generation) is ten months old and 9# 5oz.  Titan (an F3 generation like Luna) is eight months old and 9# 12oz., and little Calypso (“Cally”, an F5 generation silver Savannah) is almost five months old and is 5# 6oz.  There is never a dull moment in our house now with three…and we never expected to own three…two maybe, but not more.  It has worked out perfectly and we are very glad that when we visited the cattery of Savannarama in northern California to pick up Calypso, little (big) Titan attached himself to us and left us no choice by to add him to the family as well!

    They play hard, run fast, sound like thunder and are always hungry.  It’s our understanding that Savannah cats can grow for 2-3 years, so we are just getting started.  Luna’s appetite has really taken off since she’s been off of her daily injections too.  It’s the best sight to see and hear them chasing one another around, wrestling, grooming, playing, and ultimately, SLEEPING!

    Luna on the left, Cally on the right and Titan in the back.
  • IMO

    Examine What You Tolerate

    You are not a punching bag for anyone’s anger or aggression.  It’s unacceptable  to talk down to another human being with anger, a raised voice, or with intimidating body language.  It doesn’t matter how bad your day, your job, your calendar, or your life is at that moment, there are no excuses, especially when unprovoked or when trying to resolve a misunderstanding.
     
    Why do we put up with this behavior from those closest to us?  Because we fear retaliation, isolation, and escalation.  We don’t want to step out of our cozy, comfortable place where we are seeking peace and neutrality in life, so we “tolerate” it in order to avoid further conflict; therefore, allowing the abuser to always be in control and continue the behavior.
     
    It is Emotional Abuse when a boss, coworker, child, spouse, partner, friend, or parent yells at, insults, or talks down to another individual in an attempt to exert control, belittle, or reprimand that person.  Emotional abuse can be as damaging to the psyche as any other form of abuse and should never be tolerated.
     
    The definition of Emotional Abuse:  Emotional Abuse Reference
     
    Any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.
     
    Emotional abuse is also known as “psychological abuse” or as “chronic verbal aggression”.  People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes, (such as becoming withdrawn) and may even become depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
     
    Emotional Abuse symptoms vary, but can invade any part of a person’s life.  Signs of emotional abuse include:
     
    • Yelling or swearing (read about: Emotional Bullying)
    • Name calling or insults; mocking
    • Threats and intimidation
    • Ignoring or excluding
    • Isolating
    • Humiliating
    • Denial of the abuse and blaming of the victim
     
    No one should allow themselves to be a victim of any of these behaviors and if you are a victim, you need to remove yourself from the toxic relationship, or if in the workplace or school, take action by seeking the appropriate guidance from your counselor or human resources department.
     
    The person being emotionally abusive may not be aware that is what they are doing and could simply need education and guidance to redirect their anger or aggression.  I believe that someone with the best of intentions can use these inappropriate maneuvers.  Regardless of the intention from the person dishing out these toxic behaviors, it is up to you (the victim) to take action and control of the situation in order to prevent further abuse and subsequent damage from taking place.  Examine what you tolerate, because what you allow, will be what continues.
  • 50 Years of Reflections

    A Recap of My Unforgettable 50th Birthday Year

    As I sit here on the eve of my 51st birthday, I feel compelled to reflect and recap this past year of changes, experiences, discoveries, adventures, and challenges.  Turning 50 and the months that followed, was epic and not to mention, overwhelming.

    To kick off my “50th birthday”, Jamison and I started with running, ok, so it wasn’t really running, but it wasn’t walking either…I prefer to call it “slogging” (a slow jog) a half marathon in Corning, New York.  This was a race that we were both terribly untrained to run due to nothing more than our own lack of effort and maybe too much traveling and eating.  We were hell-bent to mark off one more state in our “50-State Race Challenge”, no matter what.  Having registered for this race many months prior, we opted to just grin and bear through it and hope we could at least finish.  It wasn’t glamorous or even respectable in comparison to our races of years prior, but we gutted it out for the sake of prosperity.  That and we were driving through New York anyways on our way to JFK airport for our upcoming Europe trip….that’s REALLY why we ran that race!

    Wineglass Marathon starting line

    After the above race, we headed to JFK airport in NYC where we embarked on our amazing 16-day adventure to Eastern European to visit Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria and Germany.  The special highlight for me was a side trip to the small village where my great-grandparents were born, married, and ultimately left during WWI,  Mezzaocorona, Italy (formerly Austria).  It had always been a dream of mine to go there since I am fascinated with my Italian ancestry.  I still can’t believe that I stood in the very church where they were married.  The entire trip went off without a hitch, utterly perfect in every way and Jamison planned every last detail to perfection.  Every country was unique and special and I could spend weeks writing about this journey!  My blog post on the plane home from Europe

    Mezzocorona, Italy

    After recovering from the trip, I underwent spinal surgery, ten days after turning 50, to have a fusion of my cervical 4-5-6 area to repair stenosis and nerve damage that resulted from being thrown from a horse in 1997.  This surgery that was long overdue and the condition was affecting my quality of life.  I put it off because I didn’t want to stop running, but mostly because I was scared shitless to have surgery on my c-spine.  I knew that it would be very difficult to start back up running as I was required to take six to twelve months off from running.  That is tough for someone who is active and relies heavily on fitness and exercise in lieu of medication for my autoimmune disease (Sjorgren’s Syndrome).  I finally got up the courage to get it done and inasmuch as I hate that I’ve lost my fitness, gained 20 pounds, and can barely run, I almost wish that I hadn’t waited so long to do it.  My pain has improved significantly despite my loss of fitness.  I’m trying to make a comeback, but the effort has not yielded favorable results.  I will not give up.  I will be back.  I feel like I’ve never ran a single step.  Everything hurts, everything is stiff, I get discouraged, and then I stop.  Then I go back to ground zero and do it all again.  Finding motivation is the hardest part, but I’m not throwing in the towel.  Now that I’ve been cleared with no further restrictions as of last week, perhaps I will rise from the ashes once and for all.

    Early 2017 was exciting too.  We took a fun cruise with some awesome friends that we met on our last cruise and made some spectacular memories during this trip.  To start, there had been an unfortunate shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport the day before our arrival, causing the terminal to be closed.  At the last minute, we rented an SUV and made the long drive to Florida and hit a blizzard that hit the southern states.  Yes, a freaking blizzard.  It was a brutally long and slow drive to Fort Lauderdale and one that actually stranded us on interstate I-75 outside of Charlotte, NC, for three solid hours, completely stopped, while emergency crews cleaned up the aftermath of a jackknifed semi.  Luckily, we had a full tank of gas, an empty cup to pee in, and some sort-of warm clothing (we were headed for a cruise, so not much in the line of warm).  We cat-napped while we waiting for some sign of movement in traffic.

    Our new friends

    After returning home from the cruise, we anxiously and excitedly awaited our next adventure…Savannah cat ownership.  We had bought/reserved a Savannah kitten from a breeder in Alabama.  We were to receive the kitten on February 15th via Delta airlines.  After 13 weeks of anticipation, we received an email on Valentine’s evening from the breeder that the entire litter had been killed by another cat.  I won’t go into the bogus b.s. that transpired from this “story” (we don’t believe that the kitten actually ever existed).  The long and short of it is, that we were able to get a refund and buy another kitten from a reputable breeder in Maine.  We waited for this new kitten to mature and on March 23rd, I flew to Boston to pick her up.  Her name is Luna and she is the best kitten/cat ever.  We bonded and fell in love with her over the next month, only to find out that she had a rare and fatal disease called “Feline Infectious Peritonitis” (FIP).  Luna was given 1-2 weeks to live.  We were devastated and there was no way I was giving up on our little angel.  I spent hours upon hours researching this dreaded disease and started calling several major veterinary colleges in the U.S. looking for clinical trials or new innovations.  Time was running out and Luna grew sicker each day.  Lo and behold, I got a call back from UC Davis in Sacramento, CA with news of a new trial that was about to start and how soon could we get Luna there?  This was on a Sunday and we had her there that Thursday.  Luna was administered an antiviral drug of a human form that I cannot yet disclose.  She responded immediately and we were able to take her home after 5 days.  84 injections later, Luna became the first privately-owned cat to be treated with this drug…and now, seemingly cured of FIP.  Luna’s FIP Story.

    As I neared the closing of my 50th birthday year, September 2017, I got a new granddaughter; my second grandchild and I was there to witness it (like I was with the first one).   Being able to make it to Maryland now twice to witness these two beautiful baby’s births is a dream come true for this mamma/grand mamma (and OB nurse).  While I’m on the subject of grandchildren, I will announce that grand baby #3 is due to arrive on April 1, 2018 (to my son Ryan and his girlfriend Ashley).  I hope that I get to help guide this baby’s safe transition into the world as well, should that be their desire.  Here’s the comical part of grand #2’s arrival:  I got the call that labor was in full swing at 4:22 a.m.  My husband had me booked on a direct flight that was leaving at 6:45.  We were at the airport by 5:15 and I was on the ground by 7:30.  My son and his actively laboring wife, swung by the airport and got me on their way to the hospital!  The timing could not have been better.

    My new granddaughter, Kimber

    To close out the year of the big 5-0 and to celebrate Luna’s cure of FIP, we decided to add a second kitten to the family so that she could enjoy the company of a buddy. Over the course of Luna’s treatment, we had met another breeder, also in the Sacramento, CA area.  He wanted to gift Luna a buddy Savannah, a most generous gift after all we had been through!  So…back to California we went to pick up our new kitten.  Upon arrival to the cattery, another older kitten attached to us.  We simply could not leave him behind, there was no way.  Despite not being financially prepared to buy another Savannah, we were able to rob Peter to pay Paul with our funds (literally…the breeder’s name is Paul) and made it happen.  We came home with two more Savannah’s instead of one, for a total of three in our house!  For the first 5 days it was like living on the set of Wild Kingdom as we kept the cats separated while our two newbies acclimated.  After the 5th day, we opened the doors and let them duke it out.  “Wild Kingdom” because “Born Free” and now we are a happy Savannah cat family.

    In summary, what I can safely say is that I certainly do not “feel 50-51”.  I’d like to think it’s my healthy choices, but I’m not quite convinced that I didn’t just get lucky.  I’m grateful for all that is good, for all the lessons I’ve learned from the not-so-good, and I continue to have hope, patience, and tolerance for what still needs work.  Every day is an adventure to be cherished.

  • Luna's FIP UCD Trial

    Happy One Year FIP Survival Anniversary to Smokey!

    This kitty gives hope for the future of cats diagnosed with dreaded Feline Infectious Peritonitis.  Smokey is one of the not only surviving, but thriving cats from the 2016 GC376 drug trial at UCDavis.  I am so happy to have gotten to know his wonderful owner, Peter, during the process of our Luna being part of the 2017 new drug trial.

    Smokey’s One Year Milestone (click here to read Peter’s most recent post about Smokey’s status, visit his blog, and donate to FIP research at UCD)

    Me (Deb) with Dr. Pedersen and Peter Cohen (owner of Smokey, from the GC376 2016 drug trial)

    I am counting down the days until I can write a similar blog post that Luna has hit her one-year survival mark!  I am also counting down the days until these drugs can be FDA approved for manufacturing so that more and more cats and their owners can experience the amazing healing effects these drugs have brought to these trial kitties!

  • Luna's FIP UCD Trial,  Savannahgans

    Luna’s FIP Trial Success Continues: Introducing Savannah Kittens Titan & Calypso (“Cally”)

    We are excited to announce the addition of two new, amazing Savannah kittens to our family; but mostly, for Luna so that she now has some partners in Savandalism and Savannahgans!  (now that we feel confident about her future).

    We have wanted to get her a buddy for some time, but since her diagnosis with FIP, we just weren’t sure if that was a safe thing to do; both for her health and for the health of the future cats.  Since it appears that Luna’s FIP has been resolved (everyone is still hesitant still to call her “cured”) it was deemed safe to proceed with the addition of another feline friend.

    After months of communication with a breeder in northern California (who had reached out to us when we took Luna to UCDavis to start her drug trial), we were able to make it happen and spent three days visiting and bonding with all the wonderful kittens and cats.  We chose a female silver Savannah, whom we named “Calypso” or Cally for short, to join our family.  She is now 17 weeks old and absolutely adorable!  She is dainty, mild-mannered, and a bit on the shy side, but is fitting in quite nicely.  When we visited the cattery of Savannarama, in beautiful northern California, there was an older kitten that kept clinging to us and it seemed like he would like to come home with us too!  This green-eyed hunk of muscle is named is “Titan” and he is seven months old; already the size of Luna!  Luna is now 9 months old; so hard to believe!

    We never imagined we would have two Savannahs, let alone three!  Titan is a very affectionate and demanding boy who is built solid and strong and can jump high.  We have a feeling that will be a big, tall cat, judging by how much he has grown in just the last three weeks and how insatiable his appetite has been!  Cally is happy-go-lucky and has no problem keeping up with the big kids and even though it seems like they wrestle and play rough, she keeps jumping back in for more.  Both of them baby her by taking turns grooming and cuddling with her.  It’s so fun to watch.  Going from never having pets to now three Savannahs has been a fun adjustment for we empty-nesters!  We are quite thankful that we have a cat-loving, dear friend as a neighbor who happily looks after them when needed.  We are thinking about taking all three of them camping soon so Luna can show them how it’s done!

    Rewind three weeks.  When we arrived home with two kittens, Luna was NOT happy.  She hissed and growled like nothing we have ever heard from her.  She was very displeased, but we knew to expect this behavior.  We opted not to take her with us on this trip to get the kitten(s) as we did not want to cause her the stress of having to meet her new buddies in a strange place and also while traveling such a long distance.

    The bickering through the door went on for about five days off and on with short bouts of letting them see one another.  Anytime we would try to introduce the pair (who were already bonded) to, Luna, she would attack them and make those frightening noises that we never heard from our sweet angel!  However, when we would separate them again, she would try to see them under the door and cry to get in with them!  Finally, we opened the door and let all three out to run around the house and duke it out.  That was all it took; a few hours of hissing, hiding, lunging, growling, wrestling, biting, and running at full speed.  And that was that.  It took roughly 5 days to acclimate them all and we couldn’t be happier seeing Luna thriving and interacting with her new friends.  Oh…and I’ll sneak in that we are now three months off her FIP trial drug too!

     

     

  • Luna's FIP UCD Trial,  Savannahgans

    Luna’s Drug Trial Update: 10 Weeks Out and Labs Are Perfect!

    If you are new to following Luna’s progress or new to the FIP world, you can catch up by reading Luna’s backstory here:  Luna’s FIP Story

    The great progress just keeps coming!  Luna will be 9 months old on October 9th.  She just had her labs drawn yesterday (last draw was 6 weeks ago) and every single component was perfectly within normal range.  These are best and most stable results she has had to date!  (and they have always been good)!   She is growing in weight and stature (almost 9 pounds now) and has actually gotten a little bit “fluffy” around the mid-section, which we have watched closely to make sure it’s weight gain/growth and not a relapse!   We hope it’s just a growth spurt and that she will level out as she approaches the one year mark.

    What will likely help with this is new weight gain, is that we got her two new sibling Savannah kittens this past week, whom I will introduce in another post.  That should keep her energetic and active for sure!

    We really do feel that it won’t be long before we can confidently say that Luna has been cured of effusive FIP.  We will probably never let our guard down completely, but my gut and heart tells me that this drug is going to put an end to the curse of effusive FIP once and for all!

     

     

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