We have always suspected that Moon has the feline herpes virus. Apparently, 90% of feral cats do, and he’d always get weepy eyes at the change in seasons, the worst of it being in the fall, but it never progressed beyond that. Until this fall.
It started Halloween night with sneezing fits. Moon had been a bit off for a week or so anyway prior to this. He’d been stressing about some new cat wandering around the garden, so he was coming down off his annual bout of cystitis that happens like clockwork when we open the windows in the fall. His annual bloodwork was done a few weeks prior and there were some white blood cells in his urine, but the vet didn’t see any cause for alarm as everything else was fine. After that, my husband and I were both home for a few manic days of cleaning and trying to get some house projects done before our annual Halloween party, which was a very peepoly party this year. So I expected Moon to be a bit run down from all the commotion. I expected the weepy eyes like he’s had in years past, but I did not expect the sneezing, so it concerned me enough to take him to the vet Thursday Nov 1st in the afternoon.
Now I had freshened up the only carpet we have in the house prior to the party. I used a green cleaner from Clean+Green, so I didn’t think it would be a problem, but with allergic cats, you never know. In this case, the doctor didn’t want to confirm one way or the other that it was a viral herpes flare-up or just an allergic reaction to whatever botanicals might have been in the carpet spray, so he wanted to wait and see. I was ok with that, since it was only sneezing, so I went home and washed the shit out of that carpet, in the driveway with a brush and hose, then I hung it to dry, which took a day or so.
By Saturday, Moon was flat-out. By Sunday night, he had stopped eating and drinking and could not really breathe. We got some super stinky fishy cat food to see if we could entice him, and we had him eating a few bits and drinking some tuna water by Monday. Tuesday he seemed improved, but still would not drink anything but tuna tea, so we took him back to the vet for subq fluids, which I could then administer every other day at home if I wanted to. I didn’t. I was just going to drive him back and forth since the vet is close to my house, but the trip was so stressful that Moon urinated all over himself in the car. By Wednesday, all the progress he had made was lost, and he took a nosedive. I started doing the subq at home, shaky at first, and he didn’t seem to mind or care, but by Friday, he was so bad that he had urinated himself in his bed and was just so weak, he lay there in it until I got home from work. I seriously thought we were going to lose him at that point. At minimum, he was going to need intensive hospital care.
So it was back to the vet Friday afternoon where we decided that a shot of antibiotics might be warranted now. He was given that and given fluids and given a syringe of vitamin paste, which I would be administering every day at home for the foreseeable future along with the fluids. By Friday evening, Moon was eating a bit of kibble. We had decided to go with the cookies he loved back in the day that made him fat the first time he got sick with urinary issues. Royal Canin Urinary +Calm. It’s one of the only foods with L-tryptophan in it, and that is the only thing that keeps Moon calm. We’ve tried all the theanine chews, but none of them worked unless they had the tryptophan, and calming chews with that in it are getting harder and harder to find. We brought home some recovery canned food too, but we’d tried canned food and baby food with him throughout but all he does is gag when he tries to smell it. His nose is way off base, but for some reason, whatever they spray this carb-loaded kibble with, it works.
This past Saturday night there was blood in his snot and in his urine. This was expected, so I was happy that we’d decided to go with the antibiotic because he was ripe for secondary bacterial infections like pneumonia at this point.
Now it all might be coincidence, but it helped. He perked up in a few hours on Friday, was eating a bit of kibble every three hours from 6:00 PM on through Saturday, and around midnight Sunday morning, he started drinking plain water on his own. Sunday, he drank and drank and drank, all day long, and by this morning, Monday Nov 12th, he attempted to eat some kibble out of the bowl on his own after I gave him his vitamin paste. (For high calorie vitamin paste, I use Richard’s Organic because it has taurine in it. If that’s not available, Nutrical works in a pinch but it has no taurine if they go off their food entirely for a few days.)
Sunday night was the first night he didn’t want to sleep with me in over a week, which was good because I’ve procured myself a nice head cold from being so run down from the stress and not sleeping that I needed a nice quite bed with nothing gurgling and snoring next to me to distract me from my own gurgling and snoring.
I think Moon will make a full recovery, but it’s scary to think how strong this virus can come on, and how sick they can actually get from it. I did a lot of wine drinking and a lot of crying. Now I have got to formulate a plan for next fall so I can head this heinous thing off before it gets out of hand:
- I will probably make sure I have the calming cookie food early and start feeding that to him when we open the windows for the first time in the early fall. Apparently, the feliaway isn’t enough. The crap prescription corn-based food makes him fat, so I will have to find a way to ration it so we get the same net effect.
- I will get the subq fluids as soon as/if he stops drinking. No wait and see days. The bag was $75.00 but at 100ccs per day, it lasts and saves the stress of trips to the office.
- I will probably get the antibiotic sooner, since it seems he turns the corners hard, and it’s going to hit him in the urinary tract as well. I don’t like giving antibiotics without knowing for sure, but if he is going to crash this fast, then it’s best to head pneumonia off before it can get a hold on the lungs.
I’m sure that Rupert carries the virus too, but even with his FIV, he was completely unaffected by anything aside from a few days minor annoyance when he couldn’t use the litter boxes in the den because I had Moon in there with the door closed so he could rest uninterrupted. On the bright side, Rupert likes the cookie food too, and he will steal it every opportunity he gets, so it can’t be left out unattended, otherwise Moon won’t get any of it. It won’t hurt him to eat a bit of it and will keep him calm too, which is good for his FIV, so if he thinks he’s getting special treats, then what’s the harm in letting him think that.
Now I need about ten days of sleep to recover my own damn self. I wonder how that cookie cereal food tastes with milk?