Front Street Animal Shelter, UC Davis help this kitten beat a historically fatal disease

The small, grey kitten was found at a local park, struggling to walk. Taken to Front Street Animal Shelter, the cat received a grim prognosis from veterinarians.

“We knew something wasn’t right, and he was quickly diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), which is nearly always fatal in cats,” said Haley Waugh, public information coordinator for Front Street.

Thankfully, Front Street has a strong working relationship with UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, which has been running clinical trials to cure the illness.

With Front Street’s support, the cat, named Grayson, qualified for the trial.

“We’re extremely lucky to have one of the best veterinary schools in the country a short distance from our shelter,” said Front Street Manager Phillip Zimmerman.

According to UC Davis, FIP is a serious disease caused by a feline coronavirus variant, though not the one that causes COVID-19. The virus will spread through a cat’s body causing systemic inflammation. Up to 95% of cats diagnosed with FIP die without treatment.

However, progress is being made on understanding and treating the illness. As part of the trial, Grayson received antiviral medications daily as veterinarians closely monitored his blood work.

After 16 weeks of experimental treatment, Grayson graduated from the program and now is considered medically cured of FIP.

“We are grateful to UC Davis for bringing Grayson into their program, and to our donors for covering the diagnostic costs required to qualify for the trial,” Zimmerman said.

Currently, there is no successful FIP treatment or vaccine approved for veterinarians in the United States, but there’s hope that UC Davis’ ongoing work will support a cure that will one day be readily available for any cat diagnosed with FIP.

Now healthy, 1-year-old Grayson is in search of a permanent home where he can celebrate his second chance at life with a loving family. Despite all that he has been through, Grayson is a friendly and playful cat. He enjoys spending time with other animals as well as people.

Anyone interested in adopting Grayson can learn more and apply to adopt him here.

Front Street Animal Shelter is committed to saving as many pet lives as it can. The shelter saves more than 2,000 cats annually and has a vibrant cat foster program that helps more than 1,500 cats and kittens grow strong and recover from illness and injury each year.

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