Tag: Feline infectious peritonitis

Thanks To A New Treatment, These Cats Have A Second Chance At Life

After almost three months in treatment, little Parsnip is back to her old self.

The tabby cat with expressive sky blue eyes had been diagnosed with Feline infectious peritonitis, a variation of feline coronavirus that attacks the body’s white blood cells and can render even the most playful kittens lethargic, eventually robbing them of their ability to walk and ultimately, their lives.

Parsnip was an affectionate whirlwind of energy when 21-year-old Californian Anae Evangelista adopted her. When she lost her kitten exuberance six weeks later, Evangelista knew something was wrong. When the little cat stopped eating and drinking, Evangelista realized the problem was much more serious than an initial veterinary examination suggested.

After more tests, she received grim confirmation that Parsnip had FIPV, a virus that is almost always fatal.

But a veterinarian connected her with an online group for people whose cats have FIPV and Evangelista was able to get her kitty accepted for experimental treatment with GS-441524, a nucleoside analogue antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating all types of FIP in several trials in recent years.

After a regimen of almost three months of GS-441524 treatment, Parsnip has her energy back, she’s gained a pound and a half, and “looks perfectly healthy,” Evangelista said. Equally important, her blood work and other health indicators are all positive.

She’s overjoyed at the result. Parsnip came into her life at a difficult time, when Evangelista was grieving the loss of two friends. Losing the kitten she’d bonded with — an animal who had become such a comfort to her over the months — would have been too much.

Evangelista will graduate from college in about a week’s time, “so I’m honestly so excited to have her ‘graduate’ from her treatment too,” she told PITB.

Parsnip at the vet
Parsnip being a little trooper during one of her many veterinarian visits.

Londoner Billie’s cat, Jupiter, also suffers from FIPV. When she went to adopt him, Billie knew the British shorthair had Feline herpes virus (FHV) and that it would require careful monitoring. But the infection wasn’t life-threatening and Billie had already fallen in love with the golden-eyed chonkster.

When Jupiter’s appetite waned and his behavior changed earlier this year, Billie thought the little guy was just suffering from a FHV flare-up.

“He is very loving, he is like my shadow and he loves to play,” Billie told PITB, “but he wasn’t doing any of these things.”

As was the case with Parsnip, the veterinarians didn’t think Jupiter was seriously ill. They sent Billie and Jupiter home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication, but after a week Jupiter still hadn’t improved. He was subject to a battery of tests — bloodwork, ultrasounds, x-rays — and kept overnight for observation.

“FIP is notoriously hard to diagnose, and there are so many symptoms that you could mistake for other things,” Billie said, noting veterinarians often have to “work backwards” and eliminate other potential ailments before diagnosing a cat with FIPV. “Jupiter’s symptoms were so minor initially, he just seemed a bit off and hadn’t eaten much and felt hot. I think because I know him and his behavior so well, we were able to catch it early.”

jupiterjubilee
Jupiter proudly displaying the Union Jack in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

Because the tests didn’t confirm FIPV, a third visit with more tests followed before Jupiter was placed on his meds. While the FDA has yet to approve GS-441524 treatment in the US, the UK had approved the drug in fall 2021, so Jupiter was able to begin treatment right away. Like Evangelista, who paid $5,000 for the FIPV drugs, not including the initial veterinary examinations, Billie was faced with hefty bills: The three initial veterinary visits, tests and five nights of observation added up to £5,500 (about $6,930 in USD), and the medication set her back £7,500 (about $9,400).

Her family helped her pay the initial veterinary bills, her sister started a GoFundMe campaign, and her nieces began making “FIP Warrior crystal healing bracelets,” with the proceeds from sales going to Jupiter’s treatment. (A GoFundMe for Parsnip also exists, and has raised $2,060 of its $2,500 goal so far.)

So far, Jupiter is responding well to the treatment and the signs are encouraging.

Both cats will enter an 84-day observation period after their regimens. They’ll have their bloodwork monitored and will be examined several times over that stretch to make sure they’ve recovered. They’ll also be closely watched at home for any symptoms.

Evangelista and Billie said they’re heartened by the 85 percent success rate.

Despite the cost, Billie said she didn’t balk at taking care of her cat.

“Jupiter is my whole world,” Billie said. “It is just the two of us, he is my one constant and he means everything to me. He is so loving, and so sassy. He has such a little personality and I would be so lost without him.”

Follow Jupiter on Instagram @_jupitersfipfight and Parsnip at @lilmissparsnip

Parsnip Was Rescued From A Hoarder And Found Her Forever Home — Then She Got Sick

Anae Evangelista was reeling from the deaths of two close friends when she saw Parsnip in a local shelter’s online post.

The 21-year-old college student had been thinking of getting a cat for weeks after accompanying a friend to a local shelter. After checking the shelter’s adoptable pets again, she fell in love with an adorable tabby with a clipped ear and sky blue eyes and immediately made plans to see her in San Diego.

Parsnip took to Evangelista immediately.

“She was so affectionate, pushing her head into my hand for pets, and I knew she was the one,” Evangelista told PITB.

Although many cats take days or weeks to adjust to their forever homes, Parsnip “strutted into my apartment as if she owned it from day one, zooming all over the place [with] enough energy to bounce off the walls,” Evangelista said.

Parsnip sleeping
Parsnip enjoys a snooze with toe beans on display.

Although she had a rough start to life and was rescued from a hoarding situation, Parsnip was friendly, affectionate and warmed quickly to her new home. As human and kitten became fast friends, Parsnip’s presence was an immediate boost to Evangelista’s mental health.

‘She’s been my rock,” she said, “and although she can’t talk, I feel as if she’s constantly encouraging me to stay strong.”

But after about six weeks Parsnip’s energy level took a distressing dive. She was weak, slept a lot and wouldn’t eat much. A vet visit didn’t yield any answers, and the next day Parsnip displayed more telltale signs of a seriously sick cat — she stopped eating and drinking entirely, and began eliminating outside of her litter box.

After consulting another veterinarian, Evangelista finally had an answer. Little Parsnip was suffering from Feline infectious peritonitis, a more virulent strain of feline coronavirus that infects white blood cells resulting in dangerous inflammation, per the Cornell Feline Health Center.

“An intense inflammatory reaction to FIPV occurs around vessels in the tissues where these infected cells locate, often in the abdomen, kidney, or brain,” according to Cornell. “It is this interaction between the body’s own immune system and the virus that is responsible for the development of FIP.”

The disease is “usually progressive and almost always fatal without therapy.”

But there’s hope for Parsnip: With the help of her veterinarian and an online group for people whose cats have FIPV, Evangelista was able to get her kitty accepted for experimental treatment with GS-441524, a nucleoside analogue antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating all types of FIP in several trials in recent years. (It’s been so effective, in fact, that Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturers have been supplying GS-441524 on the black market to cat caretakers who haven’t been able to get their cats into trials.)

Since starting the treatment, Parsnip’s responded well: She’s eating again, the swelling has been in retreat, and she’s once again interested in play time, exploring and other things cats love to do. She’s even able to hop up on the couch again.

That’s a far cry from her condition just three weeks ago when she had a 105-degree fever, no interest in things around her and couldn’t get up under her own power.

The 84-day treatment, subsequent vet visits, monitoring and blood work is expensive: Evangelista estimates it’ll cost her about $5,000 in total. She’s looking to raise half that amount via a GoFundMe. It’s a huge expense, especially for a college student, but for Evangelista, spending the money is without question.

“She’s been my foundation and she deserves the world,” she said, “so I want to give her the chance to live to see it.”

Follow Parsnip’s progress on Instagram @lilmissparsnip