Pepe’s Legacy and the Story of his Unfortunate Diagnosis

Firstly, I must apologize for neglecting this page for so long.  It was not my intention to be one of those bloggers who never blogs.  In fact, after my last story ended so happily (three kittens going to good homes, opening my foster space to new adventures), I assumed that I would actually be quite busy on here, with all sorts of new tales to tell.  And there is a tale (or….tail?), a really interesting one, in fact, but it was a long time in the making, and I was reluctant to begin telling it when I wasn’t sure how it would end.  Much of this story is so utterly heartbreaking, too, that telling it before it could end on a positive note just seemed sort of a cruel way to treat my audience, the few of you that there are.  But now that the ordeal is done (a fact that I still have very mixed feelings about), I can finally begin unraveling it for you.

If you’re a sentimental fool like me, then you might want to grab some tissues before reading this.  This was a sad deal, but I assure you, there is a silver lining here.  More than one, even!  At the very least, I won’t be talking about buttholes this time.  I swear on Suzie’s ashes that not one…single…anus…will be discussed in detail, or in passing, for the duration of this entry.  No promises about poop though!  But if you can’t talk about poop, then why are you here?  Surely, a blog that discusses knitting would be more palatable for you.

Pepe was a sweet and beautiful tuxedo kitten who my partner, Bunny, and I, adopted from a local rescue, after fostering him and his two siblings for a few months, until they were ready to be rehomed.  My ex-husband, Joel, adopted the two tailless Manx kittens, Daphne and Luigi, and Bunny and I decided that Pepe, with his glorious long tail and heart-shaped forehead mark would become our “foster failure”.  That’s the term affectionately applied to animals who are kept by their fosterers (rather than placed for public adoption), because they’re too amazing to be parted with.

All three kittens appeared to be in suitable health at the time of their adoption, and since they had already tested negative for Feline Leukemia (FLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), any intermittent symptoms that we had noticed were presumed by us, as well as their doctors, to be no more than the residual effects of their rough start in life and their still-budding immune systems.  The occasional sneeze, chapped nose, little bead of eye goop, or softer-than-average stool can have multiple benign causes, and simply were not big concerns to us…until…suddenly, they were.

In late May, three months after Pepe had become a permanent resident of our home (and two months after I had already taken in two more foster cats), his eyes had started to look red, and were producing a lot of yellow, goopy discharge.  He also sometimes appeared feverish, shivering away while resting in his kitty bed.  These symptoms notwithstanding, he didn’t seem to feel too bad.  He still had a ravenous appetite and plenty of energy.  Concerned that Pepe might be suffering from an upper respiratory infection, or other nonlifethreatening thing that could be cured with antibiotics, I decided it was time for a trip to Banfield clinic, where I don’t normally go, but they happened to have an opening at the time that Pepe needed to be seen.

Upon taking Pepe to the vet, the doctor pulled up his medical history in some sort of database, and noted the age at which he and his siblings had undergone the combo test for FLV and FIV.  She expressed the concern that at eight weeks of age, the test results may not have been accurate, and that a retest at twelve to fourteen weeks would have been more telling.

This, I have found, is a topic of some controversy.  Since this whole ordeal began, I’ve consulted with multiple veterinarians on the issue of testing.  About half of them confirmed what the Banfield doctor said, that kittens infected with FLV in utero may not test positive until at least twelve weeks of age, for the reason that the antibodies from their mother (which haven’t died off yet) can interfere with the results of the test.  The other half of the doctors I spoke to said that the test used on Pepe and his siblings (called a Witness test, product of Zoetis https://www.zoetisus.com/products/cats/simplysmarterchoice.aspx) is not influenced by maternal antibodies at all.  They contended that the Witness test detects the antigens (fragments of the virus itself), not the antibodies produced to fight it off.  Thus, kittens can be tested at any age.  Some, however, went on to say that although the Witness, ELISA, and other in-house tests commonly used are not rendered falsely negative due to antibodies, the antigen levels must reach a certain height before they’re detectable, and how long it takes for the disease to progress that far in kittens can range from several weeks to several months.  The later opinion, if true, presents a frustrating dilemma for members of the animal rescue community, who must conserve resources while practicing due diligence in making sure that cats are healthy before being placed for adoption.

Once again, this time at eight months old, Pepe’s blood was drawn for a second screening.  I sat at the clinic waiting for the test results, biting my nails and sweating bullets while Pepe wandered curiously about the room.  During this fifteen-minute period, which seemed more like twelve hours, a sense of impending doom came over me.  I somehow knew that this was not going to be a happy day.  Pepe, I think, knew nothing at all, other than the room smelled funny, and had a lot of interesting doo-dads to tinker about with. A while later, the doctor emerged from the lab with a somber expression, and promptly informed me that our new “baby”, who we had no prior reason to believe would not live healthily for fifteen years plus, was negative for FIV, but positive for the Leukemia virus.

Not to be confused with FIV (often referred to as the feline version of AIDS), which is a similar, yet distinctly different disease, feline leukemia (FLV), described as a retrovirus (http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_felv.cfm), was first discovered in the 1960s.  It infects approximately 1-8% of all healthy cats, kittens being the highest at risk, and may be contracted in the womb, or from direct contact with the saliva, milk, nasal secretions, blood, or urine of infected cats.

Feline leukemia is not transmittable to humans, dogs, or any animals other than cats, and since it doesn’t survive in the environment for very long, cats that are kept indoors, and/or away from cats that are infected, are said to be at a negligble risk.  60-80% of cats that are exposed to this virus will fight it off before it has the chance to affect their system.  In the remaining 20-40% of cases, the virus eventually settles into the bone marrow, at which point, the cat will remain infected for life, and will either succumb to the disease through a wide range of possible afflictions, or they will become carriers and display no symptoms at all for months, or even several years.

FLV weakens the cat’s immune response, resulting in symptoms that may vary significantly from one cat to another.  Some cats may develop cancers of the lymph nodes, while others might suffer skin and mouth inflammations, as well as any range of persistent bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.  A vaccine for FLV is widely available, reasonably inexpensive, and does not interfere with test results.  It is recommended only for cats that are at a high risk for the disease (kittens under one year of age, any cats that are kept outdoors, or that roam freely among cats that have tested positive).  The vaccine will do nothing to protect cats that have already tested positive for the virus.

This information, in case you are wondering, mostly comes from the Long Beach Animal Hospital in Long Beach, CA (http://www.lbah.com/word/feline/feline-leukemia-virus-felv/), because I feel that this is one of the most comprehensive online articles on FLV.  The same data, however, with slight variations, can be obtained from multiple sources.  Please conduct your own research, and feel free to bring me up to speed if you think that any of the information I’ve presented here is flawed.

Before I continue, allow me to offer some perspective on just how tragic this diagnosis was to Bunny and I, as well as to Joel, who I immediately contacted after receiving the news about Pepe.  As I previously mentioned, Joel had adopted Pepe’s brother and sister, who I now suspected might be infected, and I urged Joel to have them tested immediately.  Just as I had feared, Daphne and Luigi tested positive as well, probably because they all shared the womb of an infected queen, not because they were exposed to an infected cat after they were born.  All cats that were exposed to the three kittens during my fostering of them had already tested negative for the disease, and were not likely the cause for our kittens becoming infected.

It had already not been a good year for us, cat wise.  Eight months prior to Pepe’s diagnosis, before Suzie’s Cat Refuge was a “thing”, I, as you know, had lost Suzie to kidney disease, an event that was so devastating for me, I had almost vowed to never get another cat.  Then, three months after Suzie’s journey to the Rainbow Bridge, early last January, Bunny’s 13-year-old orange tabby named Bean, succumbed to pancreatitis.  And THEN (I swear, I’m almost done), not more than 24 hours after Bean’s passing, Joel texted me with the news that our 18-year-old black cat Pugsley, had, like Suzie, lost his battle with old age and a good life.  These three deaths, which had occurred in as many months, were a big part of the reason why we had decided to adopt the kittens.  But now we were faced with the all likely probability that our little ones, too, would pass, and tragically before their time.  And, of course, I wouldn’t be able to take in any more foster cats either.

So, there we were, back at home with Pepe, who was sick with a disease that we knew little about.  It suddenly dawned on me, also, that we hadn’t received much in the way of professional advice.  The doctor who diagnosed Pepe had not prescribed or recommended any treatments, and being too distraught by the news to even think to ask, I had no idea how we were supposed to proceed.  Pepe, on the other hand, knew exactly what to do.  He continued to wave his sassy tail that he was so proud of, being the only one of his litter to possess one, I suppose, and he played with catnip and killed flies as though no other course of action was needed. The one remedy that I knew about was Lysine, a supplement recommended for boosting the immune system and treating an array of eye problems.  I ordered a product online called Viralys, which is a powdered Lysine supplement, specially formulated for pets (http://www.allivet.com/p-3077-viralys-powder-100-gm.aspx?gclid=CNXL_cy89ckCFQEIaQodNSYKoA), and I began mixing it @ 500mgs, twice daily into Pepe’s canned food.

As much as supplements are criticized for not always having a scientific basis to support their uses, the Viralys seemed to make a difference.  Pepe’s eyes were far less goopy, some days not goopy at all, and even the redness had diminished somewhat.  His appetite and energy levels also remained good, and he continued jumping up on counter tops and batting around the little tinsel ball toy that his brother, Luigi, had previously ripped most of the tinsel out of.  So, it was really just a pathetic little nub at that point, but Pepe thought it was the greatest thing in the world.  In spite of Pepe’s good progress, however, I had the nagging sense that for a disease like FLV, surely, Viralys would not be enough, and we needed to be doing more.

As I expected, the effect of the Lysine was short-lived, and by July, Pepe had taken a turn for the worse.  His eyes were not only goopy again, but they had taken on sort a hazy appearance, and the stuff coming out of them was less like mucous and more like a sticky resin.  One day, I came home from work and found Pepe wandering through the kitchen totally blind, his eyes super-glued shut.  I don’t think that Pepe noticed he was blind though.  He still wandered right up to me, singing his little “mew,” which hadn’t lowered in pitch even though he had, for the most part, graduated kittenhood.  He placed his little white paws up on my knee, and stared at me through closed eyelids as if asking to be picked up, and I held him like a little baby doll while I wiped his eyes clean with a warm, wet cotton round.

While tinkering around on Google, I came across some information about a promising treatment called LTCI (Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator).  Made by a pharmaceutical company called T-Cyte (http://tcyte.com/), LTCI is the only USDA-approved treatment for both FLV and FIV.  It is a substance derived from the thymus glands of cows, and is said to increase the cat’s immune reponse against the virus.  It is administered by vets only, as as series of injections, the first three of which are given once every seven days, then semimonthly, and then, hopefully, only once every month or two after the cat starts feeling better.

USDA-approval, of course, only attests to the drug’s safety, not its effectiveness, and while studies on this treatment show good results, those studies, like all studies done on any new drug, have their limitations, sample size being a big one in this case.  In a study of only 23 cats, about half of whom suffered from FLV, the other half, FIV, and all at varying stages of the disease, it’s impossible to know for sure if their observed improvement was due to the treatment itself, or some other factor (http://tcyte.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/3.pdf).  However, desperate to try something, and without many options, there was really no doubt in our minds, now, what the next step would be. “Yesterday!” Bunny commented when I posted a link to T-Cyte’s page on his Facebook timeline.  “Let’s get him started on this yesterday!”

*sigh* But it didn’t happen… “yesterday”… today, or even tomorrow, for that matter.  By the way, if you think the human healthcare system is slow and inefficient, try getting immediate care for a chronically ill cat.  LTCI isn’t something that can be picked up at the local Wal-Mart, unfortunately.  It has to be acquired and administered by a licensed veterinarian (with good reason), and since it is a fairly new and rarely-used drug that has to be customized for the cat who’s receiving it, even vet clinics don’t carry it on hand.

T-Cyte’s web page has a list of clinics that have ordered LTCI in the past.  One such clinic was the Camden Pet Hospital in North Minneapolis (http://camdenpet.com/), which happens to be located a convenient, seven-minute drive from our house.  Katrina, my next door neighbor, had taken her pets to this clinic on multiple occasions, and had only great things to say about the staff and quality of care there. So, I immediately called them and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Kelsey Johnson, a wonderful lady whose kindness, humility, and dedicated care of Pepe, I am convinced, were the only reasons for his improved quality of life.

Pepe’s first appointment at Camden was productive, but it would not be during this first appointment (nor the second), when he would receive his first treatment.  First, he needed to be examined to assess his overall health.  Next, the T-Cyte company would have to be contacted to determine if there were any changes in the treatment protocol, since it had been three years since any doctor at Camden had prescribed LTCI.  Then, Pepe would have to undergo a series of blood tests.  The first was an ELISA in-house test, to confirm his earlier diagnosis.  The second (which would be performed only if the first test was positive) was an immunoflorescence assay test (IFA), which involved shipping the blood specimen to an out-of-state laboratory, where it would be determined within a few days if the disease had advanced to the bone marrow.  Both of these tests came back positive, which was no surprise to us.  A complete blood count (CBC) was also taken to detect a number of things, most notably, elevated white blood cell counts, and/or signs of anemia.  This information would be used by the T-Cyte company to formulate the treatments for Pepe, as well as to provide a baseline so that future test results would indicate if there was any improvement in his condition.

At least two weeks had passed between my first phone call to Camden and the date that Pepe received his first injection.  During this time, Pepe himself had finally begun to notice the effects of his disease.  His appetite was still decent, but his stools were soft and mucousy, and lacking the energy for much playtime, he spent countless hours in the basement, curled up in the wet bar sink.  Although I understood the necessity for the steps that had to be taken before Pepe could begin this journey, I really had wished that something could be done to hurry things along.

Finally, on a Monday morning in August, Pepe received his first LTCI treatment, a simple, quick, and painless injection that went between his shoulder blades.  Pepe seemed to experience no side effects from this treatment, other than feeling a bit sleepy for a few hours afterwards.  Then, we watched and waited with our fingers crossed, closely observing Pepe for any signs of improvement.  Meanwhile, Pepe continued to wander listlessly throughout the basement, his eyes always threatening to stick shut…and the wet bar sink remained his home.

The following Thursday, less than one week before Pepe’s second scheduled treatment, his eyes suddenly grew painful.  Normally, Pepe had been calm and even content when we would wipe the waxy goop away from his eyes, but now he was wincing and crying whenever we came near him with the cotton rounds.  Even more disturbing was the blister-like anomaly that had formed on the surface of his left cornea, sort of grayish in appearance.  He was also holding his left eye closed a lot while leaning his head in that direction, and both eyes were tearing profusely.  Whatever was going on, it couldn’t wait until next Monday.

I had already taken the day off from work, because I was suffering from a terrible cold, and luckily, Dr. Johnson was able to squeeze Pepe in, even though there were no available appointments.  Upon close examination of Pepe’s eyes, she informed me that the lesion on his left eye was a deep corneal ulcer, most likely the result of a feline herpes infection.  This ulcer, she went on to tell me, carried the potential to rupture Pepe’s eye, and would have to be treated immediately.  Eyes were not Kelsey’s specialty, she confessed, but she knew that they were nothing to mess with, and so she spent the next 45 minutes, while I waited there with Pepe, frantically reaching out to any available animal opthalmologist.

Finally, an animal opthalmologist at the Blue Pearl clinic in Eden Prairie, whose name I never knew, recommended the following, highly aggressive treatment for Pepe: A broad-spectrum, oral antibiotic called Doxycycline, an antiviral eye drop called Cidofovir that specifically targets feline herpes, and an antibacterial eye drop called Ofloxacin.  All of these were to be given twice per day, and the oral antibiotic was to be mixed with Pepe’s canned food.  Lastly, we were given several, pre-filled syringes containing a serum, made from the blood of Dr. Johnson’s own dog.  This had to be given as en eye drop as often as possible, up to once every hour, for a few weeks, or until Pepe’s eye was no longer in danger of rupturing.

I sat in the clinic, an absolute mess, as Dr. Johnson outlined the series of tasks ahead of us.  “What is the point?” I barely uttered, through a layered combination of tears, snot, and uncontrollable coughs.  I failed to see how a cat with FLV could possibly ever recover from this.  Meanwhile, Pepe rolled around on his fluffy kitty bed, which sat on the examining table, enjoying a moment of belly scritches while Kelsey and I discussed his fate.  After handing me a much-needed bottle of cold water to control my cough, Dr. Johnson went on to assure me that the opthalmologist was aware of Pepe’s diagnosis.  Even with feline leukemia, he had suggested, there was a good chance that Pepe could be cleared of this eye problem if we followed his recommendations.  In time, he would prove to be at least partially correct.

So, Pepe was not euthanized that day.  We immediately went to work on treating his eyes, and for once, I was actually grateful that Bunny and I worked different hours.   Every morning, I woke up at 6am on the dot, and gave Pepe his serum at 6, 7, 8, and 9.  Bunny would wake up at 11am, and give the serum at 11, 12, and 1, before getting on the bus to work.  I would then come home from work around 7pm, and repeat until bedtime, all the while, sneaking his other medicines somewhere in between the hourly doses of serum.

This is where Pepe’s sweet disposition really helped his prognosis.  I’ve always believed that the quality of life is far more important than how long a cat actually lives.  Therefore, when making the decision of whether to treat their condition or simply have them put down, the cat’s personality has to be taken into account as much as anything else.  Not all cats would have tolerated hourly eye drop giving, semimonthly trips to the vet, pills, or other such things, but Pepe took it all in stride like a real soldier.  He allowed us to hold him on his back like a little baby while we did whatever was necessary.  Knowing that he would be spoiled immediately afterwards with a treat of diced, organic chicken tenders probably helped that along.

Less than three days after we began this incredibly stressful, time-consuming, and not to mention expensive regimen, the goop in Pepe’s eyes had completely cleared away, and the ulcer had begun to scar over and even shrink somewhat.  In addition, he began eating ravenously!  His stools also firmed up, and he went back to displaying normal social and playtime behavior.  For several weeks, at least, it appeared that we had won the battle, but how much of this miraculous turn-around was due to the LTCI injections, versus the cabinet full of other drugs he was on?  The answer to that question did reveal itself over time, but either way, never again did Pepe experience eye problems as severely as he had during the months of July and August.

For three solid months, Pepe underwent semimonthly LTCI injections while we continued treating him at home with various prescribed drugs and supplements.  All the while, every attempt we had made to cut out his medications entirely resulted in moderately painful flare-ups in Pepe’s eyes.  We were able to permanently whittle his meds back somewhat, however.  Having swiched to a different antibiotic (Azithromycin), so that he wouldn’t develop a resistence, he now only required oral medicine once every other day, and he only needed one of his eye drops (Cidofovir), which we gave only when he seemed to be having trouble.

A follow-up CBC test showed no improvement from the first one, which confirmed our suspicion that T-Cyte’s new drug, however promising in studies and testimonials, wasn’t accomplishing anything that the other drugs weren’t.  At a cost of $98 per injection, plus all the other expense, we decided with much disappointment that it was time to cease the program entirely, and continue doing the best we could with Pepe’s home treatments.

Pepe enjoyed several more weeks of good playtime, bug killing, and lots of cuddles from Bunny and I, with only minor eye flare-ups that would occur every one to two weeks.  The supplements that he was taking to help support his immune system, and thwart some of the harmful effects of the antibiotics (appetite stimulants, digestive enzyme probiotics, and vitamin E, to name a few) also seemed to work very well, at least for a while.  Still, we could tell that Pepe’s condition was slowly deteriorating.  He was eating less than before, making it harder to get all those supplements into him, and his playtime sessions were getting shorter.  He did manage to take us through a nice roller coaster of ups and downs before his end finally came though!

Pepe was a proud boy who took himself very seriously, as most cats do, and he would not give up his life easily. One morning, after Pepe had endured a particularly rough day, whereupon I had already made an appointment to have him put down, he came trotting up the basement stairs, carrying in his mouth, the biggest, juiciest cricket I had ever seen.  Oh, happy day!!!  Pepe proudly dropped his crunchy prey onto the kitchen floor, and proceeded to play gleefully with it as the poor thing made vain attempts to scamper away.  I suppose it’s not appropriate to laugh about such things.  I’m certain that the cricket saw no humor in it, but as my basement carries an overabundance of these insects, I decided to let Pepe revel in his moment of sadistic fun.  I also picked up my phone to make a second call to the mobile vet.  Pepe would not be euthanized on this day either.

Weeks later, two months after his one-year birthday, and one year to the date after I had taken him in as a foster, Pepe finally refused all food, even chicken broth, signaling his request that we send him to heaven.  He didn’t appear to be in any pain, and he could still walk, but his energy was depleted, and he had taken to spending the majority of the time curled up in his bed.  This time, we knew that Pepe really was ready to go.

On a pleasant Monday afternoon, at 1pm, Pepe crossed the Rainbow Bridge via a peaceful home euthanasia, which, in my opinion, is the only way to end an animal’s suffering.  I think I would literally steal the money to have a vet come to my home for this dreaded task, rather than subject an animal who has already suffered enough to the stress and trauma of one more trip to the clinic.   By the way, if you’re ever in need of this service, a company that I recommend is MN Pets (http://www.mnpets.com/).  They are highly professional, very kind, less expensive than many clinics that offer the same service, and their euthanasia method is flawless.  No pain, or even much awareness that anything unusual is happening.  I really hope, however, that I won’t have reason to hire them anytime soon.  We are most sincerely “pooped” from all of this depressing nonsense.

Okay, onto the silver lining.  I promised that this story would have a happy ending, and I’ll be damned if I don’t have the anecdotes to follow through on that promise.  I sure do!  So, here goes.

Pepe’s brother and sister remain alive and well, with no noticeable symptoms of their disease.  Hard to say why Pepe got sick and the others didn’t, but as I mentioned earlier, that’s the nature of this bizarre disease.  Some cats manage to kick it, or become carriers, while others fall prey to it, and Pepe just wasn’t that lucky.  Daphne and Luigi remain happy in their new home, with their “daddy,” who loves them, and takes excellent care of them.

Another positive outcome was that none of the cats that were exposed to Pepe, prior to and following his diagnosis, were infected with feline leukemia.  Bunny’s 10-year-old buff tabby named Poppy was the highest at risk, having already been exposed to Pepe for six months before he tested positive.  Poppy tested negative twice for the disease, once, immediately following Pepe’s diagnoses, and again about two months ago when she had to be brought in for a urinary tract infection.  We also had her vaccinated to give her extra protection, but at her age, it’s likely that she was already producing sufficient antibodies to fight off the disease.

I mentioned earlier that I had already taken in two more foster cats at the time that Pepe was diagnosed.  The first was a big orange tabby named Owen.  I had Owen for about two months total, but he only roamed freely with Pepe for about three weeks.  After Pepe’s test came back positive, Owen was taken back to the animal rescue from which he can come, and quarantined for six weeks before being retested (and that test was negative, thank you Lord!), and he was adopted into a loving home soon after.

The other foster cat that I had taken in a little while after Owen came, was a gray and white, cow-patterned, 11-week-old feral kitten, who had been rescued out of a condemned shed behind a bar in St. Paul.  Initially named Farrah’l, we promised to drop the’l off the end of her name once she decided to stop being feral and grow accustomed life among humans, which took about one week.  Farrah was never truly at risk for FLV, as she remained sequestered to the upstairs from the time we took her in, until Pepe’s death.  Farrah’s saving grace was that she had tested positive for roundworm, and my reason for keeping her upstairs, initially, was so she wouldn’t poop in the other cats’ litter boxes and pass her cooties onto them.  I was literally one week away from allowing her to roam freely throughout the home when I learned about Pepe’s illness, which brings me to an important side note about fostering.

If you plan to foster rescued animals in your home, please resist the temptation to intermingle them with your own pets.  We got lucky this time, but I will never make this mistake again.  Even if all cats are tested, vaccinated, and appear totally healthy….just don’t.  We didn’t think there was a risk with Pepe, either, and there was.  It’s not worth the risk to your cats, or to your foster cats, who will eventually be adopted by families who might have cats of their own, who would then, also be at risk.  So, unless you plan on turning them into foster failures, just….DON’T.  Keep them separate.

It’s oddly appropriate that Pepe’s forehead had a cute little white mark in the shape of an upside-down heart.  In his fourteen short months, he succeeded in turning many hearts upside down, including the heart of his wonderful doctor, who even reported having occasional dreams about Pepe’s little eyeballs.  Yeesh!  I don’t even want to think about the kind of things that vets must dream about, the horrific things that they witness every day.  We’re still a bit shaken from the events of this journey ourselves, and occasionally, we contemplate whether we would have done things differently if we had known what the outcome would be.  The answer, however, is always a loud, resounding “NO!.”

With the right kind of care (and a little bit of luck), many cats live long, healthy lives with feline leukemia, in some cases, even after it has progressed their bone marrow.  Pepe, being so young at the time of his diagnosis, deserved the chance to live those fifteen plus years, even if they were ultimately denied to him.  Although we miss Pepe terribly, we feel grateful for the time that he was with us, and we are confident that we did everything that we could for him.  We are also proud to have offered one more piece of valuable data to his doctor, who had said that she learned a lot from Pepe, as well as to the T-Cyte company, who will continue developing their treatment, and hopefully, eventually come to understand why some cats respond well to LTCI, while others don’t.  Perhaps, one day, there will even be a cure for this unfair and cruel disease.

Meanwhile, on to new adventures, and a happy new year to all of you!

Sincerely,

Rachel
Suzie’s Cat Refuge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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