Tag: coronavirus

‘Every Time We Needed To Refill, They Charged Us More’: FDA Says 2 US Women Made Millions Off Desperate People Whose Cats Had FIPV

FIPV is pretty much a guaranteed death sentence for cats, and the only way to cure it is with an experimental drug that doesn’t have FDA approval.

Oregon’s Nancy Ross and Nicole Randall of Texas knew that, and as importers selling the cure via the popular Facebook group FIP Warriors, the FDA says they banked on the desperation of people who would do almost anything to save their cats — including forking over vast sums of money.

Ross and Randall are now accused by the FDA of smuggling GS-441524 from China, where it’s manufactured illegally, and hiking the price by almost 16 times what they paid for it as they served as the middle women between desperate cat owners and the suppliers in Hong Kong.

Feline infectious peritonitis kills some 95 percent of cats it infects, and veterinarians often tell their clients with FIPV cats that while they can’t prescribe GS-441524, they will help administer it, track their cats’ progress through bloodwork and hopefully save feline lives — if the clients obtain the drug themselves.

FIP Warriors — now in its fifth incarnation as FIP Warriors 5.0 on Facebook — is where people with FIPV cats go to find suppliers. The group has more than 43,000 members, and the FDA says Randall made millions off of them, charging as much as $385 for vials of GS-441524 she obtained for between $25 and $45 from manufacturers in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Randall sold $9.6 million worth of GS-441524 to clients in the US, according to the FDA. Per The Oregonian:

“A spreadsheet found in Randall’s Google email showed customer orders of at least 58,460 vials and 236,836 pills of GS-441524 from July 2020 through June 6, 2022, the affidavit said.”

PITB spoke to several people who paid thousands of dollars for GS-441524 after their cats were diagnosed with FIPV. All of them said they were surprised by the news of the FDA’s investigation, and said they were given various reasons for why the drug was so expensive to acquire.

One customer from Texas, whose cat Seth began his regimen in July of 2020, told PITB she doesn’t regret spending the money to cure Seth, but she “can see how the people saw our desperate situation and took advantage of us.” She was told prices were at a premium because of scarcity.

“It was a very stressful time for us, and every time we needed to refill, they charged us more,” she said. “They knew we couldn’t say no.”


Another woman, whose kitten was diagnosed with FIPV in 2021, “was told that the prices were set because they ensure the medication was purchased from a trusted source.”

As a college student at the time, she used her savings and crowdfunded the other half, paying more than $5,000 for her kitten’s treatment. She said she doesn’t think the administrators of the group were ripping her off, since they had FIP cats of their own, and likely didn’t know the importers were making huge profits. She trusted the seller — who was not Ross or Randall — because the group vouched for that person, assuring her they supplied real pills.

“Of course, I don’t think this is a valid justification for hiking up prices up to 16x the amount,” she told PITB, “but I’m sincerely hoping the individual [accused by the FDA] had a valid reason for setting the prices that she did.”

Others paid even more exorbitant prices: a British woman we interviewed for a story about FIPV in 2022 said she paid about £7,000, or $9,400 at the time.

FDA investigators said they intercepted shipments from China and Hong Kong disguised as COVID masks, cat shampoo and chewable medicine for pets, and the Oregonian report says the shipments were listed as “essential oils” and “beauty products” in import documents.

Randall and Ross have not been charged criminally, but they are now targets of a civil asset forfeiture case:

“The government seized five of Randall’s bank and brokerage accounts and her 2022 Tesla Model Y car last year based on a warrant signed by a federal magistrate judge in Oregon.

The warrant identified the bank accounts and car as proceeds from the “crime of smuggling” and subject to forfeiture, according to the affidavit. It also alleged Randall, now 35, used the proceeds to buy several properties, including a ranch in Leander, Texas, in July 2021.”

While the FDA’s affidavit went into detail regarding Randall’s earnings, it describes shipments sent to Ross but does not specify how much she may have made in profit. An attorney for Randall told The Oregonian that the Texas woman will fight the civil asset forfeiture.

The illegal market for GS-441524 exists because the drug’s creator, Gilead Sciences of California, declined to submit it to the FDA for approval. That’s because it’s chemically similar to another drug the company makes, remdesivir, which was floated as a possible treatment for COVID-19. The company was worried any snags in a potential approval process for GS-441524 would also ensnare remdesivir, according to reports, putting the latter drug in limbo during the pandemic.

Now that the pandemic has retreated to much lower levels of infection and death, it’s not clear if Gilead Sciences will reconsider its FIPV medication, but there may be hope in the form of alternate treatments. A report from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) says scientists at the University of California-Davis and UC San Diego are working on several promising therapies, including a potential treatment using CRISPR gene-editing technology.

But until another cure or treatment passes trials and earns FDA approval — a process that could take years — people with FIPV-diagnosed cats remain at the mercy of strangers on the internet, spending thousands of dollars per regimen and hoping the drugs they buy are the real deal.

Cat Gets Help For Man Who Fell Off Waterfall, UK Government Once Considered Cat Cull During Pandemic

Someone bring this cat inside, give him a magnificent meal and make him king of the house.

After a man fell 30 feet down a “seasonal waterfall” into a creek drainage in Pleasant Valley, Calif., about 50 miles east of Sacramento, an insistently meowing outdoor cat led the man’s wife and neighbor “right to where the man fell,” per CBS News.

The incident happened a few minutes after 9 p.m. on Feb. 21, according to the El Dorado County Fire Protection District, whose EMTs rescued the man. Authorities haven’t provided updates on his status, but as he was airlifted to a hospital, his injuries were likely serious.

The heroic feline is described as the family’s “outdoor cat.” He should be amply rewarded with a real home.

Cat saves man who fell down waterfall
A photo from the scene showing the airlift helicopter in the background. Credit: El Dorado Fire Protection District

Oh hell no!

A former UK health minister said the government mulled a plan to “exterminate all pet cats” early in the Coronavirus pandemic when the virus was new and poorly understood, the Guardian reported.

“What we shouldn’t forget is how little we understood about this disease. There was a moment we were very unclear about whether domestic pets could transmit the disease,” James Bethel told the UK’s Channel 4 news. “In fact, there was an idea at one moment that we might have to ask the public to exterminate all the cats in Britain. Can you imagine what would have happened if we had wanted to do that?”

Yeah, I can imagine a few million incredulous and angry people drawing their blinds, hiding their cats and figuring out ways to buy cat food and litter on the black market to avoid tipping off the authorities in the heavily CCTV-wired nation. If authorities tried to push the issue, things would have gotten ugly.

Here in the US we’d have another run on guns and Bud would run screaming underneath my bed, probably while demanding I slide his turkey and water bowl to him so he could lay low from “the feds.” Hey, he runs a catnip cartel. He’s used to it!

All jokes aside, I think we’ve forgotten that Chinese authorities were beating pets dead in the street and going house-to-house to put them down when the virus raged through the population there for the first time in late 2019. Animal welfare groups said thousands of pets were abandoned by their caretakers and either left to starve in empty homes or left to fend for themselves.

When the virus spread, ripping through countries like Italy, France, Belgium, Russia and taking hold in New York before spreading to the rest of the US, virologists still weren’t entirely certain whether cats — who are susceptible to an unrelated form of Coronavirus — could pass the infection to people. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that if the UK or other countries decided felines must be culled, US authorities may have followed.

The idea of a government demanding we kill our cats is disturbing on its own, never mind the prospect of it happening during a time when our pets were the few things helping us keep our sanity while we all huddled in isolation.

Thankfully reason prevailed and research ultimately proved that the chances of cats or dogs spreading COVID to humans is almost nonexistent.

‘School With Paws’: Cats In Class Help Kids Readjust After Pandemic

When teacher Evrim Mutluay welcomed her students back to school after a long period of remote learning, she noticed they were different.

The kids, who hadn’t physically been to school for more than a year due to the pandemic, were “colder” and less engaged with their lessons and with each other. Many were either ambivalent or didn’t want to be there.

So Mutluay, who teaches at Adagüre Primary School in the rural outskirts of Turkey’s Izmir region, had an idea that might seem radical in most countries, but not in the famously feline-loving nation: She cleaned out an old storage building on school grounds and turned it into a shelter for 12 neighborhood cats.

It was the first step in her “Patili Okul” (“School With Paws”) project aimed at getting kids reinvested in their studies.

The cats — who have been given names like Alaca (“twilight”), Sun and Panther by the kids — have free run of the school during the day, and Mutluay’s elementary school-age students can not only pet and cuddle with them during class, they help take care of the former strays by cleaning their shelters and feeding them. The students “love the cats so much,” Mutluay said, and the program has “endeared the school to the children.”

School With Paws
A student cuddles a calico cat in class. Credit: Adagüre Primary School

The students have become so invested that many of them now show up on weekends voluntarily to feed and play with the cats.

“It also helps them to develop a sense of responsibility, by caring for others,” Mutluay told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, a wire service similar to the Associated Press. “In a way, cats and children grow up together.”

The school, which also has a community garden tended by the kids and holds classes outdoors when the weather permits, offers a chance for children to form bonds with the animals.

Mutluay described one student who was so affected by his time stuck at home that he “didn’t even make eye contact” when the school resumed in-person learning. Except for his nascent connection with a cat named Pied, he was distant and seemingly disinterested. When the student’s attendance fell off, Mutluay appealed to that connection to bring him back: “If you don’t come, Pied will cry,” she told him.

School With Paws
Credit: Adagüre Primary School

Student Cemre Şen is one among many of her classmates who have brought stray cats to the school. There are now 30 cats living on the school grounds, including the lost kitten Şen found. She and her fellow students even incorporate the cats and kittens into games they play during recess, she said.

The cats are not kept against their will: If they want to return to their colonies or street life, they are allowed to leave. Most choose to stay, enjoying the affection and attention from the kids and the guarantee of solid meals every day. (The kids feed them before classes begin and after school before heading home.) It’s an arrangement that works in a nation where caring for cats is seen as a community responsibility, as opposed to the network of shelters, rescues and colony managers who care for cats on behalf of a generally indifferent public in countries like the US.

In Turkey, the idea of cats in classrooms isn’t controversial because the little ones are everywhere — they’re allowed to wander in and out of shops, homes and even office buildings at their whim, and the streets of cities like Istanbul are lined with miniature cat houses for neighborhood felines.

The allure of cats in the classroom is so strong, Mutluay’s program has even attracted transfers like newcomer Ata Yıldırım, who switched schools after he read social media posts about the program.

“I have two cats at home,” he said, “and when I saw so many cats here, I convinced my parents to send me here.”

School With Paws
Evrim Mutluay and her students at Adagüre Primary School. Mutluay has been a teacher for 16 years. Credit: Adagüre Primary School

Happy Thanksgiving From The Buddies At PITB!

Happy Thanksgiving 2022!

With war, inflation and even resurgent Coronavirus strains in our stressful world, we’re grateful for this holiday because it reminds us of what really matters — juicy, delicious, slow-roasted turkey.

Our national day of gratitude traces its origins back to 1621, when the cats of the Plymouth colony and the cats of the Wampanoag tribe gathered together for a harvest feast. The Plymouth cats, just a few months removed from their lives in Europe, were intrigued when the Wampanoag cats brought a strange and fascinating new kind of yums to the feast.

They called it turkey.

From that first bite, the kitty settlers knew they’d found the stuff of life, the essence of deliciousness, the thing they’d been missing all those dreary years in Europe. Here was a land of new opportunity, new napping spots and things to scratch, but never in their wildest dreams did they imagine tasting such a delicious bird.

Just when they thought they’d had their fill of wonders for the day, the Plymouth kitties were delighted when the Wampanoag cats told them that aside from being incredibly yummy, turkey also has a magical quality: It induces long, restful naps within an hour of eating it.

The feast was so much fun and the turkey was so delicious, the Plymouth and Wampanoag cats promised they’d do it again the next year, and the next, and the year after that…

And that, my friends, is history.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Your friend,
Buddy the Cat


Buddy Turksgiving

Vote BUDDY 4 America!

Today is Tuesday, Nov. 8, and Buddy needs YOU to vote!

As patriotic Americats know, our beloved President Buddy was impeached after jealous rivals claimed his brilliant plan to move the Earth closer to the sun to fight Coronavirus would have been disastrous, and enlisted the help of “scientists” who scared felines into believing our planet would be in danger despite President Buddy assuring everyone that we’d all have nice weather.

Also, there was the small matter of a “scandal” involving turkey embezzlement, but that was never proven in a court of law.


Real patriotic Americats know Buddy was the best president of all time, and it’s their duty to lay the groundwork for his triumphant return in 2024 by voting in his hand-picked candidates today! If turkey raining down from the sky, treats aplenty and mandatory siestas 10 times a day sound like good policies to you, then obviously you’re a smart kitty, you’re patriotic, and you should vote Buddy!

If you like the idea of Roombas for every cat, catnip dispensaries on every corner, a new government agency dedicated to developing new toys, and a badly-needed infusion of new boxes, you should vote Buddy! Because you’re smart!

If for some reason a Buddesian-aligned candidate is not listed on your ballot, you should write in “Buddy the Cat” and send a strong message that you’re an intelligent, patriotic voter.