I’m sharing this story from Imgur to help spread awareness about FIP. I lost a cat to FIP in the past. It’s heartbreaking, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, or any kitty.
This is Pickles, a truly magical and lucky little kitten.
Pickles is one of the most adorable kittens to ever grace this planet, but from this photo you wouldn’t be able to tell that her story almost had a very tragic ending. And sadly, the reason we feared she might not make it is a sad reality for many domestic and wild cats.
Pickles was suspected of having Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), which is a viral disease that kills mainly young cats.
FIP is awful – there is no effective treatment, it is extremely difficult to diagnose, and it is fatal in more than 95% of cases. There is unfortunately no laboratory test that will definitively diagnose FIP, and cats and kittens with FIP will usually die within a few months of showing symptoms.
When the SF SPCA was asked to temporarily welcome the 3 month old kitten in their office, and that she possibly had FIP, hearts dropped. They knew very well that they were setting themselves up for a painful loss, and Pickles uniqueness and young age only made it harder to grasp.
Her cartoonishly big eyes were enough to make anyone fall in love.
Her color pattern was very rare – orange, with a lilac undercoat. She was a little smaller in stature than most kittens at 3 months of age. Unfortunately, her adorably giant, dilated pupils were actually caused by partial blindness – just one of the signs that could be attributed to a possible FIP diagnosis. She came to the SF SPCA very sick after being brought in from a feral cat colony.
She was dehydrated, underweight, had severe flea infestation, flea anemia, and constipation to boot. She didn’t eat well during her first days here, and at times had a low-grade fever – these symptoms giving vets more suspicion of FIP. Her physical intake exam noted, “Dull responses, [patient] just sits during manipulation with tongue sticking out of mouth.” Pickles had a lot going on.
A little over a month later, she was beginning to look better.
She was eating more and gaining weight, and had enough energy to begin playing – signs that gave a glimmer of hope, however faint, that she might not have FIP. Although an ophthalmology consult confirmed that she would likely become blind (if she wasn’t already), she became increasingly better at exploring her surroundings and enjoying toys. Look at her figure out this cat tree.
Pickles became more social.
She would walk around and want love and pets so badly that she would “jump” and headbutt into your palm at times – you know, to get maximum scratches.
She enjoyed cuddle time and was a pro at making air muffins.
She became a great string hunter.
Pickles got all the love and attention possible in the short time it was believed she had left.
SF SPCA staff said, “She had stolen our hearts, and we had to brace ourselves for the incredible loss we might face. But a few weeks later, our veterinarians became confident that Pickles did not have FIP after all. Her poor eyesight was due to retinal degeneration– her sickliness due to poor nutrition and living out in the elements. Incredibly, Pickles made a full recovery, and was healthy enough for adoption. This was an outcome that we could only hope for, and it was actually happening.”
Pickles was excited too – here is the selfie she wanted for her adoption picture.
Lucky Pickles was adopted after only 2 days in the adoption center! If you want to read more about this complex and heartbreaking disease, take a look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feline_infectious_peritonitis
The SF SPCA is cooperating with UC Davis to collect data to help develop a vaccine and potentially a cure for this devastating illness. If you notice symptoms of FIP in your cat or kitten, please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Pickles was lucky, and hopefully one day we will be able to prevent or treat FIP so that more kittens and cats will have the opportunity to live a long, healthy, lucky life.
The SF SPCA relies on supporters to save animals like Pickles. Without donors and volunteers, the work simply wouldn’t be possible. To help save more animals like Pickles, please donate at http://imgur.com/SPCA