Josh had displayed no symptoms before he went for neuter surgery on 04/06/2022 when a blood test revealed that he had Feline Leukemia (FeLV+) and the vet recommended euthanasia. I declined that option. The average life expectancy after FeLV+ diagnosis is 2.5 years. Josh is 11 months old at this writing.
When diagnosed with FeLV he was still eating, moving around, and purring; he was not vomiting, had no diarrhea, and demonstrated no signs of distress so why the rush to euthanize?
There is no cure for FeLV and only a few costly experimental drugs “may” be beneficial for FeLV+ cats. I elected to start Josh on a 90-day treatment plan with one such drug called RetroMAD1 twice a day for 90 days.
I also enrolled Josh in the Austin Pets Alive (APA) FeLV adoption program which has had good success with finding homes for FeLV+ cats so they can roam free or even share a home with another FeLV+ companion cat instead of spending their often shorter lives confined to a kennel because they need to be isolated from non FeLV+ cats. APA also provides all necessary medical care at no cost to the adopter. That would be a HUGE benefit. Josh was number 24 on their waitlist.
While undergoing his treatment for FeLV and waiting for a spot to open with APA, Josh developed a fever of unknown origin on 7/04/2022 which remained unresolved through the weekend. On Monday 07/11/2022 he was taken to the vet where his temperature rose to 105.4. A full blood panel was done but no obvious causes of the temperature were evident to the vet.
Monday night I posted his bloodwork to a group of cat owners experienced with FeLV in their own cats and asked for their review. Sadly, several told me his bloodwork indicated a high probability of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) which has long been 100% fatal for cats. They recommended a sonogram to determine if the fluid was accumulating in the abdomen or chest which can be a confirming symptom of the disease.
My first thought was, “What the hell is FIP? Josh has FeLV.” After consulting the great oracle Google, I realized FIP would kill him much faster than FeLV.
On Tuesday 07/12/2022 I took him back to the vet again and his temperature had risen to 106.4. A sonogram confirmed that fluid was accumulating in his abdomen and he was diagnosed with FIP. The average life expectancy after a FIP diagnosis is often only about five weeks. The vet recommended immediate euthanasia. Once again I declined.
The same day Josh was diagnosed with FIP, Austin Pets Alive notified us that his spot in the FeLV adoption program had opened up. Unfortunately, when we told them of his FIP diagnosis, they deferred his intake.
This poor cat cannot get a break!
In the last couple of years, one new treatment for FIP has shown success in treating and curing FIP with a new anti-viral drug called GS-441524. The treatment lasts 84 days and requires injections and/or pills costing about $37 per dose 2 times daily for the 84-day treatment plan.
Without this costly drug, Josh is likely to pass unpleasantly within weeks, but with it, he has a very good chance to be cured of FIP in 84 days AND the drug “may” also have benefits that help him fight the FeLV virus.
Unfortunately, this drug is not available in the US through traditional veterinary channels. It can only be acquired through untraditional means.
Since I am in for a penny, I am in for a pound.
Wednesday, 07/13/2022 I ordered GS-441524 for Josh, but my order did not arrive as scheduled. Josh was still burning up with a fever and declining daily, so Friday evening when the drug had not arrived, I rushed Josh a 6-hour roundtrip to Dallas to get his 1st treatment and picked up the drugs to continue his treatment.
According to other pet owners whose cats had FIP symptoms, improvement in Josh's condition may be evident within three days. I sure hope so, since his fever continues to rise daily and many cats do not live past about five weeks with FIP.
This remarkable boy deserves a chance to live at least one of his nine cat lives for more than five weeks and I hope that with my help, your prayers, and generous donations we can make that possible for him.
Each shot is about $37 ($74 daily) and he requires 2 shots per day for a week and then one shot a day (or pills) for the remainder of his 84 days.
The pills are even more expensive, but far less stressful to administer.
Update October 6, 2022: Josh completed his 84 days of treatment and his bloodwork looks perfect. 🙂
I have invested thousands of dollars more than his fundraiser has generated into saving this boy's life from FIP even though he still faces FeLV.
Regardless, I opted to continue his treatment at an elevated dosage until October 19, 2022, when he is scheduled for his next bloodwork and FeLV PCR.
Because he is FeLV+ he has been on a higher-than-usual dose his entire treatment so finishing with an even higher dose seems like insurance to me.
I'll update you again soon.
Update December 2022: Josh completed his 84 days of observation with perfect bloodwork. 🙂
Update January 7, 2023: The Grim Reaper has come for Josh AGAIN, but Not FIP.
Update January 30, 2023: Josh Took a turn for the worse.
Panegyric February 4, 2023: Joshua Duncan August 6, 2021 to February 4, 2023
Josh ran quickly and fearlessly through his 9 cat lives,
his sonorus purrs drowning out death’s rapidly pursuing footsteps,
until all that remains are his indelible pawprints forever on my heart.
— Phil Duncan
Remembrance: Cat Lover Compassion Begets Human Compassion