Mr Zurik has FIP

There is no cure.  It is terminal.

It is one of the most dreaded diseases in cats, but it normally happens to young kittens. So, Mr Zurik’s case is considered “uncommon”, according to the vet.

We started noticing weight loss around January this year. There was also a loss in confidence and gradual loss of appetite. This was during the time when Vincent was quite ill and I would usually feed Mr Zurik by leaving the food, making sure he ate (with Buddy) and then I would leave them to eat. Later, we noticed that Buddy was snatching Mr Zurik’s food, so I thought his weight loss was due to that although I did suspect that Mr Zurik may have some kidney issues too. One cannot help feeling that since I was nursing Vincent at the time.

It was also in January that Zurik had mange. I took him to the vet’s and he was prescribed an Advocate spot-on and Clavomox. The vet did say that one of his kidneys felt smaller than the other but he assured me “it was still okay”.  Mr Zurik’s mange recovered in a week and the fur grew back quickly.

Then, we decided Buddy should not be fed anymore since he has a home and he is a bully. After that, we did our best to stay with Zurik until he finished all his food each day. He did not eat much.

But then again, Zurik might have another home somewhere else, so maybe he eats elsewhere too?

After we stopped feeding Buddy, he still comes, but he knows he is not getting anymore food. Zurik stayed more at our porch, took back his shoe rack and even follows me to the playground for taiji every day and comes back with me. He is my bodyguard.

When everyone else had their full check-up two weeks ago, I was undecided about Zurik because he has a life outside. Zurik is our only CNRM cat now as he lives in the community. He guards our porch. He also started balding on the head again about two weeks ago, but then, I noticed balding at the back of the neck which is so consistent with an allergic reaction to a spot-on. This made me think that perhaps someone had applied a spot-on on him.  Maybe he does have a home?  If he does and he only comes for meals, that there is a danger of “duplicate” treatment.

But something IS wrong with Mr Zurik. He isn’t his usual self. He also seemed dehydrated today. So, I decided to take him for a check-up. This means, if he needs any treatment, he would have to let him stay indoors already.

Zurik was REALLY good in the car. He only mewed a few times and then, he was quiet throughout the entire trip. If you remember, Zurik used to be a fighter and he always looked menacingly fierce.  But lately, he has totally mellowed and the fierce look is all gone.

Waiting for our turn.

The first thing the vet noticed was his heavy breathing and that he is “very skinny”. He also looks pale. A quick check of the teeth shows that Mr Zurik is “an old cat”, definitely more than 10 years old.

Well, Mr Zurik came to us in June 2013. We don’t know his age. He was already an adult cat then and I managed to trap him to get him neutered when he was terrorising Rosie and Daffodil.

The vet did an ultra-sound on Zurik and discovered fluids in his outer layer of his lungs. This doesn’t look good. Immediately, “FIP” came to my mind and I hoped it won’t be that. I know FIP is terminal.

Zurik weighed only 3.9kg today. He has definitely lost weight. (During his heyday, he was 6.5kg (in 2017 when we did our heavyweight competition). Mr Zurik was the winner back in the day.)

The vet drew out some fluids from his lungs. It was yellow in colour, thick and sticky. All this does not look good. The vet did warn that the needle into the lungs would be painful, but Mr Zurik did not even wince. He was very good about it and the vet kept saying that he is such a good cat.

Yes, he is.  Mr Zurik IS a very good cat.

As far as I’ve heard, there is no test for FIP, but the vet said she just acquired the very latest test kit for the FIP antigen, so we can actually test for it. It would be her first time using the kit. So, the yellow fluids was dropped into the test kit and it would take 15 minutes for the results to show.

Meanwhile, the vet continued examining Zurik and found that one kidney was of irregular size. A blood test would have to be done. Mr Zurik resisted when the vet tried to draw blood from his hind leg, so they used his front leg instead. The blood also showed he was dehydrated as did the simple pinch test.

A 200ml subcut was done for Zurik, for the dehydration.

The vet examined the fur on the bald patch and found no fungus. It is also not mange. Nothing needs to be done for the balding. Luckily I did not apply any spot-on on my own. The vet agreed that the bald patch on the back of the neck looked like someone had applied a spot-on on Zurik. Or, was that a very delayed reaction from the Advocate I applied in January? There was no balding at that time. But this doesn’t matter anymore now.

While waiting for the FIP results, the vet sucked out the rest of the fluids from the lungs. I watched it as I counted the number of syringes needed to suck out the yellow liquid. Gosh, there was SO much liquid. When it was finally done, the amount sucked out was about 125ml.

125ml of yellow liquid from the lungs. And this had been impairing Zurik’s breathing all this while. And yet, he was still fighting off intruders in the porch and jumping onto the roof. No more, Mr Zurik. It’s time to retire from your CNRM-job. You deserve it. You will live indoors now, but please don’t fight with Ginger.

It was 15 minutes and I waited with bated breath for the FIP results. Please, please, please, let it NOT be FIP.

Unfortunately, the test was invalid as the control line did not even appear. So we repeated the test with another test kit. The vet said if this was also invalid, we would use the blood to test for the corona virus, which can be indicative of FIP along with other results from his blood test. This would be the “old method” of testing for FIP.

We waited for the results outside the examination room.

It was now raining very heavily and Mr Zurik is terrified of thunder.

The vet intern came out to ask if I have Vetri DMG at home. Yes, I do. He said Mr Zurik would need that. He assured me the vet will speak to me, but asked if I could wait, and she needed time to explain things to me.

Of course we would wait. But I already knew it didn’t sound good. It must be FIP, I thought. Maybe even last stage kidney disease…like Vincent’s.

Finally, the vet came out.

Yes, it is indicative of FIP. My worst fears were realised. There are a few feline diseases which I hoped I would never have to encounter: Sporotrichosis (Tiger and Zurik had them), FeLV (Baggy had it), chronic kidney failure (Vincent had it, and now, Bunny and maybe even Ginger and Indy) and lastly, the dreaded FIP.

Sigh…I guess when you look after so many, you will encounter these…sooner or later.

The repeat test using the FIP test kit was invalid as well, so that was no good. But the vet did the blood test for the corona virus and it was positive. This means, Zurik has the corona virus.

Then, coupled with these results:

It’s the ALB/GLOB results that more or less confirms that it is FIP. This reading should be above 0.6, but Zurik’s is 0.5. Then, he has fluids in his lungs, so all these point toward a positive FIP diagnosis.

My worst fears were realised. So soon after my very first encounter with last stage kidney failure in Vincent, and now, it’s FIP in Zurik. No time to even take a breath to rest and recover.

Surprisingly though, Zurik’s creatinine and urea are within the normal range. At least there’s no double jeopardy here – no kidney disease. And Mr Zurik’s kidney readings are actually better than those of our inside cats!

But FIP is terminal, I know.

About FIP in cats:

I asked the vet several times if FIP is contagious and she says it is not. An FIP cat will no longer shed the corona virus because the virus has already mutated to cause FIP. According to the vet, I can put Zurik indoors with all our other cats.

She did say that it is rather uncommon to find FIP in an old cat, but the link above says it happens to very young and geriatric cats. Not those in between. I guess whatever it is, there are always exceptions to the rule.

The prescription for Zurik is Prednisolone (a steroid) to reduce the inflammation of the blood vessels and Vetri DMG as an immune booster. That is all. It is due to the inflammation of the blood vessels that causes fluids to accumulate in the lungs.

Zurik is to go back for a check-up on Friday. We will see if there are still fluids in his lungs.

Meanwhile, since FIP is terminal, we can only provide palliative care for Zurik.

I asked how he probably contracted the FIP and of course, we will never know for sure since Zurik is a community cat. The possibility is that he got the corona virus from the environment or a cat that was shedding the corona virus and it’s already been dormant in him for “a long time” before it mutated to become the FIP virus. In some cats, it does not mutate, so it just stays dormant…forever.

But it mutated in Zurik.

FIP is still a rather poorly understood feline disease. We just know how to manage it and provide palliative care to its patients.

Is FIP contagious:

The vet assured me it isn’t.

We came home and Tabs, Heidi and Ginger were on hand for a hero’s welcome.

Mr Zurik is going to live with all of you now.

That’s the shaven patch on both sides for the ultrasound of the lungs and heart. There was fluids in the lungs, but not the heart. I am to monitor his hydration and also his breathing. If there is heavy breathing, I would have to take him back to the clinic.

The bald patch can be left alone.

Birth, sickness, aging and death – these are the 4 sufferings that afflict all of us sentient beings. As long as one if born, there is no escape from sickness, aging and death.

Absolutely no escape. Nobody gets out alive.

But for community animals, we can control the birth – get them neutered. There is enough suffering on the street. We hope that community animals can be allowed to live peacefully with humans, but no, this is not happening under this new government. And even if this happens, there is no escape from various illnesses, accidents and other maladies.

Suffering exists. For everyone. But more for our street animals.

Mr Zurik is a CNRM-cat. Did he have a home before coming to us? Most likely, because he was friendly and unafraid of humans. He wasn’t a feral cat. Was he abandoned by his owner? According to a distant neighbour, most likely. He said Mr Zurik comes from the back road.

Last time, Mr Zurik used to play a game with us every day where he would sneak in from our bedroom window in the middle of the night and ask to be let out again. Then, he would repeat the game.

But he used to bully Rosie and Daffodil and fight with Ginger. He was Vincent’s nemesis for years until Vincent decided to call a truce and the two became friends. We always joked that Mr Zurik is a KGB spy, trained in Russia and if you remember he had a team of minions too (the tree shrews who followed him). We named them Igor and Otto!

More than a year ago, we had the mosquito netting installed so that Zurik could live in the porch without coming in to fight with Ginger and terrorise Daffodil.

It would take time for Zurik to acclimatise to the house again now as he hasn’t come in for more than a year now. He’ll just have to find his space in the house. And learn to live peacefully with Ginger.

Meanwhile, I forcefed Zurik some AD so that I could give him his steroids and the Vetri DMG. Luckily, Mr Zurik is easy to pill.

We’ve had 6 years with Mr Zurik now. So much adventures, so much “drama”, so many stories.

So many memories. All good ones.

It’s time to look after our CNRM-cat now.

May you be comfortable and as well as you can be, Mr Zurik. Only we know it’s FIP and only we know that FIP is fatal. You don’t know, or at least, we think you don’t. I hope you don’t know, Zurik. Ignorance is bliss.

So live life to the fullest, Mr Zurik! We will look after you.

будь здоров  ("May you be well", in Russian)

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