Six months ago we adopted two cats – Angel and Tonka. Angel is still with us and doing very well. Tonka passed away before Christmas in December. This was Tonka.
The shelter we got them from asked us to adopt them both together, as they had come from the same home. What we didn’t realize, and what they didn’t know, is that Tonka had developed FIP.
FIP, or Feline Infectious Peritonitis, is an invariably fatal disease, and vets don’t quite understand the mechanism that sets it off, though they know that it can be acquired when many cats live in close proximity to each other, like in a cattery or in a shelter. Tonka and Angel spent more than six months in a shelter before we adopted them.
A cat can test positive for FIP antibodies in its blood but will never develop symptoms. We’re not sure why Tonka got sick, and we never will be. All we know is that one day he was looking a bit more haggard than usual, and we brought him to the vet, and discovered that he’d lost weight. As more time went on, he lost more weight, and began to develop other symptoms consistent with FIP – jaundice, lethargy, inability to walk without wobbling.
Tonka was a really good boy. He never complained, unless we brought him to the vet, and he was put to sleep with no fuss or drama. Having lost Max only a few months before we got Tonka and Angel, our hearts were broken, but we’re satisfied we did everything we could.
Angel has turned into a different cat since Tonka’s passing. While she’s still skittish and nervous, just like she’s always been, she’s also become much more dominant – anxious to be the center of attention, especially at meal times.
As per our vet’s suggestion, we haven’t tested Angel for the FIP antibody – chances are since Tonka had it, she has it too. Because knowing wouldn’t tell us anything about whether or not she’ll develop the condition. We choose to live in hope and happy ignorance.