by Finn Frode
Ivanhoe before he got ill
Last year I lost my Ivanhoe, who succumbed to FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) just 11 months old. He was a purebred Somali that I had high expectations for - both show-wise and as an affectionate companion.
This wonderful cat deserves his own page, so at a later date I'll tell you about the happier moments over in the Somali section.
When Ivanhoe had just passed 10 months he started losing weight. He also got more weary and less playful. I took him to the vet and a blood test showed anemia.
A number of possible diseases were discussed - ranging from simple infections to more grim options like FIP. We decided to start treating with antibiotics, but at the same time send a blood sample to an expert lab for a more thorough check.
When the results came back, the blood values ruled out most of the other possible diseases. They did not rule out FIP, but there is no conclusive test for diagnosing FIP at the moment and blood tests will only indicate the possibility of the disease.
I have a good vet, whom I trust and I sensed she was worried about the situation too, but we decided to carry on with the antibiotics as Ivanhoe seemed to get slightly better from it.
Sadly this improvement lasted only a short while and a couple of weeks later it was obvious that something was very seriously wrong, as Ivanhoe kept losing weight and also seemed short of breath. Forgive me for not describing his condition in more detail, but even more than a year later it's too heart-rending.
Since about everything else had been ruled out by now, I had to accept the fact that most likely Ivanhoe suffered from deadly FIP. On the suggestion of the breeder, with whom I had been talking things over all the way, I decided to get a second opinion from the breeders vet. Not that I distrusted my own vet, but I could not have this loving cat euthanized unless I was absolutely certain.
We took him there and they too studied the test results without arriving at a final diagnose. He was then X-rayed - and then there was no doubt about it anymore. Most of his chest cavity was filled with liquid typical of wet FIP in a progressed state. No wonder he was short of breath, but cats have this way of hiding their weaknesses, so he never revealed how bad his physical state had become.
I was of course there at the clinic all the way calming and caressing him until he was finally put to sleep. It was all very peaceful and when it was all over, I sat there for a while remembering what a good cat he had been. He looked just as if asleep.
You can read more about this horrible disease in Michaels article "Feline FIP" at the blog. I have just a few additional comments:
Not so many years ago entire catteries were extinguished if one of the cats carried the Coronavirus, because back then many believed that Coronavirus meant FIP. It's not so, although there is a clear connection.
For most cats the virus is harmless and they'll never get the disease, but in a few cases it will mutate into FIP. A Danish study suggests that less than 1% of the infected cats develop the disease, but the remaining more than 99% don't, so there's no need to panic about it.
Whether my Ivanhove brought the Coronavirus with him from the small cattery where he was born or whether he contracted it in his new home from our old cat, we'll never know. It doesn't really matter either, because the risk of the virus mutating into FIP is so minimal.
For now we'll all have to live with that risk until the kittens reach 1½ years, but hopefully some day there will be a vaccine and maybe even a cure.