Once in a while, you meet a cat that just steals your heart! Checkers is definitely one of those special kitties. He is a very sweet, 8-month-old, black and white, FIP cat from Metro Detroit that is in the fight for his life. So far, everything about him has been miraculous and he’s in great hands with a local animal rescue. You can help him win his fight. Let’s look at what Checkers is going through and how you can help.
What is an FIP Cat?
An FIP cat is a kitty that is suffering from Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). FIP is a complicated viral disease that, until recently, was considered progressive and almost always fatal.
FIP is caused by a coronavirus known as feline enteric coronavirus (FeCV). FeCV is a very common virus that generally does not cause any significant disease (source). It is spread through feces and saliva. Infected cats may not show any symptoms of FeCV, but they could have self-resolving bouts of diarrhea or mild respiratory symptoms. Cats with FeCV usually mount an immune response in which antibodies are produced at about 7-10 days after infection.
In about 10% of cats infected with FeCV a mutation in the virus occurs. When this mutation occurs, the virus infects the cat’s white blood cells and spreads throughout the cat’s body. At this point, the virus is referred to as FIPV. Then, an intense inflammatory reaction mounts from the cat’s immune system in the vessels and tissues where the FIPV has settled (usually the brain, kidneys, or abdomen). The immune response is what leads to the development of FIP in cats.
Checking In With Checkers
Checkers, the FIP cat, was introduced to Cat Tail Kitties Rescue in November of 2021. In January 2022, he was diagnosed with mycoplasma, a bacteria that causes anemia (source). This infection would later lead to his decline and eventual FIP infection.
Beginning about a week ago, Checkers had some very significant problems. There was potential that the FIP was affecting him neurologically. This left Checkers unable to urinate or defecate on his own. He really began to crash when his bladder ruptured, filling his abdomen with urine.
The veterinarians were able to do some miraculous things with Checkers. They stabilized his vitals quickly. This FIP cat is a fighter! He had the following treatments over the past week:
- Surgery to repair his bladder
- Blood infusion
- Various bloodwork and testing
- FIV treatments (antibiotics and antivirals)
- Removal of 1.5 lbs. (650 mL) of urine from his abdomen
- Removal of 0.6 lbs. of impacted stool
- Catheter inserted
Checkers did an amazing job throughout all his treatments and was feeling much better by Saturday (March 26, 2022). He is down to 3.7 lbs. after having all that urine and feces removed!
What the Future Holds for Checkers
Checkers is now at “home” with his new foster mom, Emily. She has had success with an FIP cat before and has very high hopes for Checkers. Checkers is eating a little bit and drinking quite a lot. Of course, he is also taking in all the petting and cuddles that Emily gives him.
What does treatment look like for Checkers?
- A catheter for about 5-7 days
The catheter is helping Checkers to urinate while his bladder heals from surgery. It is uncertain whether Checkers is unable to urinate because of neurological FIP or if his feces obstruction was blocking his urethra. The catheter must remain until he can urinate on his own.
- Antiviral injections 1-2 times per day for 12 weeks
These antiviral injections will help Checkers to overcome FIP. After the 12 weeks of treatment are over, there will be a 12-week observation period before he can be considered “cured” of the disease.
- Bloodwork monitoring every 4 weeks
This is part of the FIP treatment protocol.
If all goes well, Checkers will no longer be an FIP cat in 24 weeks.
What You Can Do to Help Checkers
Checkers is not in this fight alone. He has a team of veterinarians and Emily right there by his side. You can help him too. Your prayers and purrs are coveted. As you might imagine, it is not an inexpensive job to treat an FIP cat. The surgery for Checkers’ bladder and blood infusion alone cost $2400. Donations can be made to Cat Tail Kitties on their website or Facebook page. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all donations are tax-deductible.
Be a part of Team Checkers! Even a $1 donation makes a difference.