A heartbreaking diagnosis for little Esteban, a Savannah cat
Esteban now has his wings
I knew this day would come. I even prayed that when it was time, there would be a clear sign and it would go fast. We knew he was terminal, and we didn’t want him to suffer. Even though all of that came true, it still doesn’t make letting him go any easier.
He was full of life, even as his body was ailing. He was the sweetest kitten and always wanted to snuggle, cuddle and show you he loved you back. He was playful and ran relays down the hallway and especially loved his walks on the deck outdoors. His little voice was one-of-a-kind and he liked to tell you when he was happy and also annoyed. He was good at having conversations and always answered back.
He was more subdued the last few days but there were no other major differences. We knew there was a possibility of the disease moving to his brain, especially after it had affected his eye. We increased treatment and monitored him closely.
On his last day, he had a great morning and kept to his routine. His meow greeted me at his door, he wanted treats right away, he trotted down the hallway onto the porch. It was like all other wonderful mornings with Esteban.
But late that morning, something was different. He was walking across the desk when his legs gave out. He lay where he landed and chose not to get up. He almost looked like he was falling asleep. A few minutes later he was up eating and drinking water. On his walk back, he became wobbly, sat down and began to star gaze and looked as if he was falling asleep again. He was having neurological symptoms, the next stage of the disease.
Our vet came to see him. We tried a few more treatments to make sure supportive care wouldn’t help. It did a little, but Esteban was still not himself. He spent the afternoon comfortable, being showered with love, and playing on the deck in between his spells, but we knew it was time. The next stage would be seizures and he deserved to get his wings while he was still comfortable.
He can now reach the birds he loved to watch. Even though this is one of the saddest days I have experienced in a long time, I still feel unbelievably lucky. The few months I spent with Esteban were some of the most special I can remember. He only arrived a few months ago, but he was as loved as if he was one of the first.
Esteban, thank you for sharing what time you had and making the world so special. FIP may have given you your wings, but we hope your story raises awareness for this awful disease and one day we can give the happy news that there is a cure.
Fly high my little boy and please visit often.
If you’d like to make an in memory of Esteban gift to help more cats like him, his legacy can live on. TWS will be making a one-time gift to FIP research in his honor in hopes that one day no cat family will have to suffer another loss from FIP.
Thank you so much for being alongside us through Esteban’s journey.
The outpouring of support for Esteban has been so heartwarming. We know if love could save Esteban, he would be a healthy cat. Thank you!
Esteban is stable and still a very active and loving kitten. At first appearances, you would have no idea how sick this little boy is. But after a week of more tests, consultations with experts, including UC Davis, his disease has shown itself. Esteban’s clinical symptoms are consistent with dry FIP – feline infectious peritonitis – a deadly disease in cats.
This diagnosis is difficult to receive and even harder to accept. But we have no choice, and we will cherish each and every day with him.
Esteban was purchased by his owner from a Bengal/Savannah breeder. He most likely contracted FIP from his mother who had exposure at the cattery and has been living with it ever sense. The disease is hard to diagnose, there is no test. But Esteban continues to show all clinical symptoms including enlarged lymph nodes, high fever and white blood cell count non-responsive to antibiotics, high corona titers and protein globulins. And on top of that, he is a Savannah cat from a cattery which increases his odds of having it even more.
So what does this mean? Sadly, it means he will only be with us a short time. Coming to terms with this has been heart wrenching. So much so that I, like many others, was looking for a miracle cure. We even contacted universities around the country performing FIP studies and researched experimental treatments for him. But in the end, as always, we need to do what is right for Esteban. Not what is right for us, since our hearts hurt so much.
Our plan is to give Esteban the best time a kitten could ever receive, while ensuring we limit exposure to any other cats at our Sanctuary. A careful plan has been discussed with our veterinarian which will include supportive care to help support his immune system.
He will get the love and attention he deserves and craves by his caregivers. He has his own toy box of fun things to play with and tasty treats. And a sponsor has helped provide him an outdoor play area since talking to birds and bugs is favorite on his list.
Whether he is with us weeks or months, he is one of us, and always will be. And as long as he is feeling good and enjoying life, he deserves the fun and love that other healthy kittens receive.
Thank you for being there for Esteban and for us. We could not get through this without you!
To meet him is to love him. Esteban is the sweetest 11-month old kitten you could ever meet. He’s very confident, loves everyone he meets and could have a whole life ahead of him….hopefully.
Esteban is an F3 Savannah Cat that was surrendered to The Wildcat Sanctuary just a few short weeks ago. In those few short weeks, though, he’s become very special to so many. We fell in love instantly.
The owner had spent 10 months and several thousand dollars trying to treat Esteban’s chronic, bloody diarrhea. We’ve accepted over 40 Bengal Cats, Savannahs and other hybrids into our Sanctuary. Most were surrendered for territory urination and similar health issues including IBD – inflammatory bowel disease. What we knew about precious 11-month old Esteban was:
- He had a grade 2 heart murmur
- He had tested positive for the parasite tri-trichomonas
- He had chronic, bloody diarrhea from inflammatory bowel disease
- He had been in a cat fight a day prior and was limping on his left leg
- He was purchased from a Bengal/Savannah breeder who would not take him back
Within a few days, we were able to get his IBD under control and he had formed stools. We really thought we were on the road to recovery. Within the same week, Esteban began having an increased white blood cell count and fever and had to be hospitalized. In just a few short days, we spent over $2,700 to diagnose and hopefully treat his illness:
- He was hospitalized with an IV catheter including fluids and antibiotics to bring down the white blood cell count and high temperature
- We are trying to rule out feline infectious peritonitis – FIP, lymphoma and a possible bacterial infection
- Blood work showed high corona titers and globulins consistent with dry FIP
- An ophthalmologist performed an eye exam looking for changes consistent with FIP
- An additional serum test has been sent out with results still pending
- An ultrasound was performed on his abdomen and digestive tract showing inflamed lymph nodes, but no current signs of FIP. This one procedure was donated by talented and compassionate Dr. Ralph Weichselbaum. Thank you!
- Radiographs revealed a bone chip/injury (most likely due to the cat fight he had the day before his arrival at TWS) which was causing the limping and could also be causing a serious bacterial bone infection
The money and time we’ve spent is all worth it if we can give Esteban a healthy life and future. If you had the chance to meet Esteban, you’d agree there was no other choice. He is absolutely worth it.
Would you consider helping Esteban and others like him today by donating toward our veterinary expense budget? This will help us meet these unexpected expenses.
Esteban responds well to antibiotics for a short time, but then his fever returns. We’re continuing to try new antibiotics, as we wait for further test results, in hopes these will help.
But rest assured, Esteban is comfortable. He’s enjoying the personalized attention and love we’re showering him with. We have his best interest at heart. How could we not, he already has ours. We hope to be able to share good news in the days to come with continued treatment.
Any gifts received over the project amount will be used towards future vet bills for Esteban and the cats at the Sanctuary.