It’s taken me a few days to gather my thoughts. You see, I’m not only a DogMom, but I’m also a CatMom. I definitely consider myself a dog person over a cat person. However, this is a special case where I will post a new DogMom Confessional about our new baby boy who left us too soon to the hellacious disease called FIP.
Our new kitten, Louie, came to us about a month ago. Adopted at 3 months old, he stole my heart immediately. Maybe pets that are helpless and need to depend on me, fill that hole in my heart of being childless. Louie instantly boosted new Motherly feelings and I knew I had plenty of love for another little one. I quickly discovered that he wasn’t the typical kitten that I was used to. He loved people and never wanted to be alone, unlike other cats. Cuddling in my lap, he would roll over on his back and stretch out his belly for a kitty-nap. His proper way of sitting was so adorable. He would place his two front white-socked toes so close to this body and then slowly wrap his long tail around the entire front, like it was this show he put on.
We loved watching him play with all types of toys. His favorite was chasing crinkly balls all over the house. Then he would dive through the tunnel of a canned-soda cardboard box in order to catch a toy on the other side. Little wispy toys that he could throw up in the air, and then rollover on his back to bite. The Kong Kickaroo froggy was his great wrestle toy on his tummy to roll around with.
I wish I had taken more video of him playing during those first few days, because he was so entertaining. But I thought I had plenty of time to catch his play sessions. I had no idea within a few days, he would suddenly not be feeling the toys anymore. For the next couple of days, Louie wanted to just chill, and honestly, I didn’t mind because we got to cuddle more. But then I noticed his kitty-naps were getting longer and more frequent. Even with the best & energetic kitten food on the market, he was just so tired.
This was the beginning of the 3-4 week nightmare for our family. 7 trips to 6 different veterinarians, trying to figure out what was wrong with our baby boy and the horrible shock of watching him waste away. He had been vaccinated, so what is this virus, where did it come from and how on earth could we get rid of it? There wasn’t a clear test for FIP and it was only a slight guess at this point. Medications upon medications, various blood tests, lots of rest, tuna water, special food, cleaning and sanitizing.
I was no longer working, but caring to Louie’s every need, covering him with love and prayer, and cuddling him in my arms all day and night. He would sleep right up against me in the bed all night long, and preferred to be under the blankets, right next to my chest. I was beyond in love with Louie and my fears were taking over as I worried that he would be taken away from us too soon.
And then came the day that Louie didn’t want to eat or drink at all anymore. He was too weak to even sit up. The next day, Louie went into surgery to have a feeding tube placed in. Now the real work starts as we would be tending to him every single hour, whether it be mushy food through a syringe, water or crushed pills down his feeding tube. It was round-the-clock care and we were exhausted and emotionally drained.
The next day, Louie got up to walk around and I thanked God for this miracle! It was like the eye of the hurricane – the peace, calm and relief that my worries were subsiding. Whatever it was, we were defeating it! I compare it to the eye of the hurricane, because it only lasted a day.
Louie’s abdomen was very bloated, full and he walked with an uncomfortable waddle. The vet said that it’s fluid build-up and this was now a huge sign of what was going on. This was a classic sign of FIP. A virus that is 100% fatal and there is no cure. It’s not even easy to diagnose with a test. There was nothing we could do and I had never felt so helpless as I promised him I would fix this.
We weren’t prepared for what would happen so quickly. The very next day, the FIP had spread to his brain and he lost control of his limbs. He would take a step and fall over. His head flopped around, collapsed and just lay there, urinating on himself and laying in it. It was such a disturbing scene to watch a baby 3lb kitten go through. The next morning, he lay there, completely paralyzed. I’d pick him up, and he was like dead weight, so I had to support his head in my arms. He felt cold, especially his legs. I cradled him in my arms with a big fluffy blanket. We looked into each others’ eyes and I hoped he could hear my soothing voice and feel my soft touch to his head and ears. I massaged his body and tried to keep him warm.
It was a Sunday morning, and the next day was Labor Day, so we knew it would be 2 more days before we could get him to our vet. However, we knew it was beyond time. We had a vet come visit our home and put him to sleep. I made sure I was the last thing he saw, the last voice he heard and the last touch he felt. I worried that he was afraid of what was happening and I wanted him to feel comfortable. And to know without a doubt, that he was loved and felt comfortable.
As a mother suffering a loss, I have violently cried several times a day for almost a week now. I can’t believe how much Louie touched our hearts, our lives, our home, our family in only the 5-6 weeks that we had him. Most of the memories and photos of him were when he was sick because most of the time we had him, he was sick. I try to remember those first 1-2 weeks that he was here, happy as can be.
But the crushing blow of failing to bring him back to health brings on so much devastation to my being. I know there was nothing I could do, but I still feel so awful about this. The haunting images of his suffering are very fresh in my mind as I still cry out “Why?” to God. I’ll never understand why Louie came and left us so quickly, but I’ll never ever forget him. He’ll be with us forever.
I pray that there is more research done on FIP, that there becomes a way to prevent it, and especially a way to cure it. No one should have to go through what we went though. This is a nightmare of a disease that I pray never happens to another kitten ever again. I know it only happens to 5% of kittens, but honestly, I’m extremely scared of this happening to our family again.