"Just tell me when you're ready," the vet said softly.
"Is this what you would do if this were your cat?" I sniffed again.
"Yes. You can see how much difficulty he is having breathing."
This was not how the day was supposed to end. We had no intention of learning what the initials FIP stood for. This was not the lottery we wanted to win.
Two days ago, P. mentioned to me that Moon, one of her new cats, the dog-starer, wasn't eating very well and his eyes were starting to run. This didn't sound good and I wondered if he had developed some sort of respiratory infection. When he wasn't better the next day, and frankly, looked worse, my intuition said we needed to get him to the vet soon. Our wonderful vet had an opening and we took Moon in. She took a quick look at him and grew very concerned. He was far sicker than we had thought and she wanted to run some tests. We left Moon at the vets and returned home. Twenty minutes later, she called and the results weren't good. At best Moon had a severe case of pneumonia, at worst it was FIP. It was the first time we heard those initials; it wouldn't be the last.
Our vet suggested that what he needed was 24 hour care and some IV antibiotics, if indeed he had pneumonia. We agreed that we would come and pick him up and take him to the emergency clinic which was set up for that. He did not look better when we got him and his breathing was markedly worse. I was beginning to have a very bad feeling about this whole thing.
We arrived at the clinic and they were prepared for him. They whisked him away to try and stabilize him. P. and I bided our time in the lobby. Eventually the vet came out to talk to us. She was not optimistic and asked permission to do an ultrasound to see if they could get a better look at what was going on. I gave permission and we went back to the waiting room.
The ultrasound showed a lot of fluid in his abdominal cavity. While the vet couldn't give a definitive diagnosis, as FIP can only be truly detected through an autopsy, she was pretty certain that this is what Moon had. Not only did she not expect him to make it through the night, even minute-to-minute at that point seemed dicey.
FIP stands for Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It is caused by a virus and when that virus is activated, it causes internal fluid build-up and the cat declines rapidly. There is no cure. It is usually seen in young cats, but at a 1 in 5000 rate. Moon didn't have a chance.
P. and I were both pretty devastated.
I am so thankful that this is A.'s fall break and she had come home with J. yesterday afternoon. She and P. are very good friends and her company was just what P. needed. After everyone else had gone to bed, the two girls and I shared a chocolate cake and had a mini-Amazing Race marathon.
This is the part of being a parent that I hate. I hate seeing my child in distress and not being able to do a single stinking thing about it except to cry with her.