Rusty is a “long term FIP survivor”

I meant to post this last month, but somehow it got missed. Rusty, Gun-Hee’s brother, made it to his second birthday!

Woohoo!!! As of today, Rusty is considered a “long term FIP survivor” (according to FIP research studies by the Winn Feline Foundation). He has survived past the 3 month mark since signs of FIP (primarily the widening of the abdomen due to fluid) were first noticed on June 28.

It looks like all of the abdominal fluid has dissipated, although I think he still has some fluid in the chest cavity which causes him to cough up mucous on a daily basis. Hopefully that will all be gone soon too.

Rusty still needs some muscle and weight put back on him, but he continues to enjoy time hanging out with the other cats in the house and in our secured backyard. He can still jump up onto the counter when he smells something good cooking, and he can still put the chase to another cat, or squirrel, when so inclined 🙂

For his celebration dinner he enjoyed wild Pacific red salmon with organic brown and wild rice and organic cauliflower, and some T-Bone steak as an added treat, which he especially liked! One of the attached pictures was just taken of Rusty lounging on his new couch I just got for him yesterday. The outdoor photo was taken on September 14.

Of course, our goal is for Rusty to be a “really, really, really long term survivor” and we are working hard to get that miracle. The memory of his brother Gun-Hee, who went to the Rainbow Bridge on June 28 because of FIP, motivates us to beat this!

19 thoughts on “Rusty is a “long term FIP survivor”

  1. my cat was just diagnosed with FIP this past weekend. the impression i got from my vet was that its a death sentance. have you done anything to ensure his survival or have you jsut been lucky. i am looking for any tips that might help my cat.


    1. I wish I could give you some hopeful advice, I really do. FIP is so evil. Rusty, who was my cat Gun-Hee’s littermate, lived for four months (he died in October 2008) after being diagnosed with FIP. My cat, Gun-Hee, died 10 days after being diagnosed, but he let us know he didn’t want to keep getting treatment. The one thing that Rusty did differently was that he didn’t have the fluid drained from his abdomen. I don’t know if it mane any difference, but he did survive longer than Gun-Hee did.

      The only other thing I can tell you it’s definitely genetic. Gun-Hee and Rusty got it within days of each other, but their two sister littermates never did. And their parents, Scar and Amber, only had one litter together; kittens Scar had with other females and Amber had with other toms haven’t shown any signs of FIP at all. My Aby Jacoby is almost three, and his father is Scar, too…but he’s showing no signs of FIP. And while Gun-Hee and Rusty hadn’t seen each other since they were 3 months old, they both came down with FIP literally within days of each other…but the cats that Gun-Hee and Rusty lived with at the time (including a 14 year old Siamese) didn’t get sick at all.So if you have other cats, you don’t really have to worry about them “catching” it.

      There have also been a lot of discoveries made in the four years since Gun-Hee and Rusty died, so it may not necessarily be as certain a “death sentance” today as it was in 2008. I haven’t read recent studies on FIP (I really need to get caught up), but I know there were experiments being done in the UK and Japan with interferon, but that wasn’t available in North America then.

      I am really sorry to hear that you and your cat are going through this, and I hope you have a better ending than we did. How old is your cat, and is he or she a purebred or a mix? I’m just wondering if it’s hit your cat at the same age as it hit Rusty and Gun-Hee.


  2. It’s not a death sentence, my cat has FIP and has been treated with interferon for almost 2 years.
    Please don’t give up.
    I’ve been through a lot with my cat and I’m more than happy to answer any questions.


    1. Hi Samantha? Where are you located? The vet at Angell mentioned interferon as a treatment to us back in 2008, but it wasn’t available in the US then (in fact, I thought it still wasn’t available here). It was available in the UK and Japan, but the costs to import it here were prohibitive, what with customs and all since I think it wasn’t FDA approved (admittedly, I’m a bit hazy with the details); I think there was also a concern that we wouldn’t be able to get it in the States soon enough to help.

      I would love to hear more about interferon treatment, though. I did want to try it on Gun-Hee, but it just wasn’t feasible since it’s not available in the US yet.


      1. Hi,
        I’m in Sydney. I guess we are lucky because interferon is available here, plus we have an amazing vet.
        The treatment is very costly, I think we are paying $350 ish per injection, which he has once a month but in the beginning he was having it every other day.
        From what I can gather its a very mysterious illness and because it’s so expensive many people don’t try the treatment because they don’t know if it will even work. It saddens me that so many people have written that it can’t be treated, I realise that my cat could be the exception (I am forever being told how much of a miracle he is) but I think it’s important for people to read that it is possible to treat it and then maybe they will try it and then there will be more research. I think the first thing people do is google it and nothing comes up to say any cat has survived so I hope I can give someone hope :))))

        It’s a shame it’s not available in the US.

        I’m sure little Gun Hee was really loved 🙂


        1. Ah, that explains it…sometimes, despite being the “#1 power in the world,” the States are so behind on medicine. I remember getting a cold in London and buying OTC medications – not available in the States – that literally knocked the cold out overnight.

          I wish treatments like interferon were easily available here. I am so happy it’s working for you and your cat!


        2. Hi Samantha,
          After a week on various antibiotics and tests with no results my girl Stella may have wet FIP. She is under the care of the Sydney uni vets who seem very good. I’m taking her in again today and wondered if you have any further comments on Interferon.


  3. How is he now? My dear cat just passed away of wet FIP, i wish he is a survivor but he entered the rainbow bridge already.


    1. Rusty actually died about a month after that post…but he did make it to his second birthday, which is more than his brother, my Gun-Hee, did.


  4. I would love more information…my baby was just diagnosed yesterday…he is only 2…

    Also, it is NOT genetic. It comes from the corona virus. It isn’t contagious, but it is infectious. It can be picked up in the litterbox and if the immune system can’t fight it…it morphs from corona to FIP. Most cats fight it.


    1. Well, it is genetic in the way the body reacts to the coronavirus. The coronavirus is a very, very common virus. There’s a specific version for nearly every species (the human version is the cause of SARS), and it’s pretty much everywhere. The thing is, 99.99% of cats are exposed to the virus, and they get a “kitty cold” for a couple of days and then they’re over it. But that .01% don’t just get over it. Instead, the virus insinuates itself in amongst the cells of the cat’s body and trick the white blood cells into thinking that the body’s own cells are invading virus cells. This makes the body attack itself, basically. The collection of fluid in an afflicted cat’s abdomen, which gives the disease its misnomer of “peritonitis,” is actually the carnage left behind from the battle of the white blood cells against the disguised coronaviruses.

      There’s a really great article about FIP here.

      In Gun-Hee and Rusty’s case, it seemed to be not only genetic, but linked to the Y-chromosome. Theirs was a litter of four kittens, two boys and two girls. The two boys, Rusty and Gun-Hee, were diagnosed with FIP within days of each other, despite having vastly different lifestyles (Gun-Hee, like Jacoby now, rode the subway, went to cat shows, and was exposed to all sorts of different environments, while Rusty never went outside), but their two sisters didn’t come down with FIP; in fact, they’re still alive today.

      Also, both Rusty and Gun-Hee lived with other cats; in Gun-Hee’s case, the cats he lived with ranged in age from 14 to 3; none of them got FIP, either.

      So the ability of the immune system to fight the coronavirus and prevent it from mutating into FIP…that’s genetic.

      In the UK and Japan, they’re actually trying interferon to treat FIP. It was mentioned when Gun-Hee was sick, but it wasn’t available in the US.

      One other interesting fact: Cheetahs are particularly susceptible to FIP because they’re all almost genetically identical. This is of particular interest in relation to the Abyssinian because Abys are the oldest recorded breed and, because of the devastation to UK breeding stock during WWII, they had a similar genetic bottleneck. This is also why Abys were chosen to map the feline genome.

      I hope your poor boy is okay…


      1. Just an update on my boy. He’s doing so well on the interferon he now only has to have it injected every other month.
        Definitely worth seeing if interferon is available where you are yet.
        Good luck!


      2. Thank you for the link- the cheetah info is fascinating! The drugs available here are LTCI and PI. I hate FIP.


    2. If you think that article’s interesting, you should check out Stephen J. O’Brien’s book Tears of the Cheetah. That man is seriously one of my idols.

      Here in the States, there isn’t any treatment meds at all, really, yet. There’s a vaccine, but most vets recommend against it.


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