Kona’s life began in a cattery in west central Florida on July 15, 2013. He was seal-point-mitted with the most beautiful cream colored fur that was as soft as a rabbit. He was adorned with a beautiful white blaze that looked like a star on his forehead. His beautiful, clear blue eyes were unmistakably the window to his soul that spoke volumes to me during his life.
I can remember his first day with us like it was yesterday. Our previous cat had passed away at 16 years of age just months before and I had to “kitten proof” the house that morning. Shopping the day before for his arrival was both exciting and scary as I had to prepare for a tiny kitten who would most likely be scared and stressed being away from everything that he knew. I was used to an older cat, that slept many hours, ate prescription food, liked a certain type litter and had a routine about him that was predictable. Here I was, taking in this beautiful young life that needed love and attention just like a newborn child would. I was terrified, yet could not wait to take him home and hopefully have a new companion for many years to come.
Kona was all and more that my family and I could ever hope or ask for. He pranced around, sniffed and investigated all that he could that first day. He played with the few toys I had bought, hoping that he would love them. We laughed at how he would be so energetic one minute and then just jump on a chair and fall fast asleep in seconds. His innocence and energy were priceless and so was the joy that he brought to us.
Kona grew in size, his colors darkened, and he loved us as much as we loved him. He loved to play and if any of us seemed to be ignoring him he would nip at our ankles and give us that “hey, its time to play” look. He did what all kittens do, which I think we all love to watch…he would run at what seemed like 100 miles an hour all around, jumping on everything in his path, coming to rest at my feet and looking at me with those blue eyes that told me how happy he was. That feeling was mutual. I could not help but smile, knowing that his being with us was meant to be.
When the time came, Kona was neutered, and was well adjusted and happy. He had his own little routines, certain places that he loved to nap, or sit and watch the squirrels and other critters common to Florida. The squirrels would mesmerize him. He loved watching them climbing the trees, jumping from branch to branch and chasing each other. I think they saw him too, as they would come close to the window and almost taunt him, daring him to come out and play! Oh, and I bet he would have given them a good run, if he had the chance.
Life with Kona was easy and comfortable. We knew what he loved to do, we knew what he loved to eat and we knew that he loved us as much as we loved him. He fit easily into our lifestyle and he seemed to be thriving. Seemed, being the operative word here….because one day, our lives changed forever. We never saw it coming…like a lightning bolt from the sky, hitting us with such force, throwing us off our feet. We were in for some difficult days ahead. His eyes told me so.
It all began on an ordinary day in May of 2014. Kona was 10 months young. He had been napping a lot recently but on this particular day he had gotten up from his nap and came to where I was sitting, and I knew something was wrong. He seemed weary, bringing his face to mine, almost asking me to notice. I did. His third eyelid was covering at least 1/4 of his eyes. He looked cross eyed and I panicked. Within a half an hour we were we at the vet, never thinking that the next few days would prove to be the beginning of a very difficult time for all of us. Kona was in a fight for his life. We were all in a fight for his life.
Only days later at the Internal Specialist, Kona was given a death sentence, an expiration date of only weeks or a month at the most…Kona had FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It presents in both a wet and dry form. Kona had the dry form. FIP has no cure, is not widely known, but takes the lives of mostly young kittens under the age of 1, who were exposed to the FCoV Virus. The virus is prevalent in catteries, shelters and multi-cat environments.
Everything changed that day. I was given some steroids and some meds to help his appetite. I walked out with Kona in his carrier, drowsy from drugs, shaved and sore from the needle biopsies and a sonogram, and me with tears streaming down my face, not knowing what to do. I was devastated, not believing that this was his fate, not believing that this was all the life he would have, not knowing whether there was something, anything that I could do to make this all go away…looking hard for some hope through the tears.
The drive home was blur, but I remember talking to him the whole way, telling him how much I loved him and that no matter what, I would do everything I could, as long as I could to help him through this. I had to… for him and for us. We needed him as much as he needed us. We would not let each other down. Kona did not let us down, not for a minute, not for a second.
We found out more about a treatment for dry FIP called PI, Polyprennyl Immunostimulant. It is an immune booster and we tried it for awhile. There was no change in his condition and so we decided to stick with the steroids and other meds, including pain relievers. He had some very good days, where he was a kitten again for a month or so.
His good days were great. He would run and jump and gallop like old times. He seemed to want to please us, and he did, time and time again. He was a silly boy who loved just about everything and we did what we could to encourage his playfulness. But then he started to decline. His appetite dwindled, his playfulness was for very short periods and his nap time increased more and more each day. We tried doubling the steroids and pain meds in hopes that this would help but it did not. He did celebrate his first birthday with us on July 15, 2014 and he was still having some great moments where he craved affection and seemed like he was rebounding….but they were only moments, not hours, not days any more.
I was calling the vet almost daily looking for advice, knowing that he was failing quickly. He could no longer walk to the litterbox in the laundry room, so I set one up close to his bed where he spent most of the day. I had to entice him to eat by hand-feeding him. Sometimes he would make the walk to his food and water, but he would mostly eat a few morsels from my hand and then put his head back down and close his eyes. I tried everything to make him eat… he was just not hungry any more. His quality of life was gone and I knew he needed to be helped to the Rainbow Bridge.
So, on Sunday, August 10, 2014 Kona left us and started his journey to the Bridge. I held him for a long time and before that final injection, he made a soft meow, saying goodbye, leaving the weight of his pain in my arms for me to carry now. To this day, almost one year later, I can still vividly remember everything about that day. The softness of his hair, his scent, his eyes that had lost their brilliance and light, still haunt me as I had to play God that day.
Would he ever forgive me… could I forgive myself? I pray that he has, although, I still carry that guilt… the not knowing. But deep down, although he could not speak to me, his eyes told me he was tired and needed eternal rest. Run free Baby Kona… may the wings of Angels hold you and guide you… ‘till we meet again… you will always be in our hearts. We love you and miss you every day.
As I am not an expert on FIP, I will leave the education of it up to the experts. Please go to dr-addie.com to read about the disease and how it is contracted. There are certain institutions and universities that are currently researching the disease and have made great strides in hopefully one day finding a cure. The Winn Feline Foundation, specifically, the Bria Fund, fund the doctors who do this research.
Through the sales of his book, Kona’s Fight, Tiny Kitten, Big Heart, available on Kindle and i-books have given us the opportunity to sponsor two FIP studies through the Bria Fund at the Winn Feline Foundation. One being done at Cornell University and the other at the University of TN in hopes of one day finding a cure to FIP.
I promised Kona that I would continue to fight for him and all the other kittens taken by this horrible disease and I will continue to do that.
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Am so very sorry for your loss of Kona. Truly know the shock and horror that overtakes you when you found out your sweet Kona had FIP. It is a brutal disease that can’t be stopped and takes away our angels so prematurely just when they are enjoying their lives just as Kona was doing. I, too, had a kitten, Mishi, a blue Persian, who was diagnosed with FIP (wet), and there was nothing that could be done for her except to let her go peacefully just as you did for Kona.
So hope that you have come to a good place now and are not still feeling any guilt for helping Kona end his suffering and cross the Rainbow Bridge. The decision that you made to not hold on to him any longer and let him go peacefully and with dignity was the most unselfish gift of pure love that anyone can give. Know that he will always be in your heart. So wonderful that your book is being used to help study FIP for a cure someday. You can be sure that Kona is in Heaven looking down at you and is very proud of you for doing such a positive thing. ♥♥♥♥
Thank you Teresa and I am so sorry for your loss of Mishi. I believe all of our FIP kittens are together waiting to see us once again. They are special and endured so much in their short lives. I hope one day to see the cure to FIP. Thank you for your kind words.
What a beauty Kona was. I’m so sorry that his time with you was so tragically short. While he was here it sounds like his days were filled with fun, peace, contentment, joy and loads of love.
Oh he had lots of great days, even after diagnosis he did well for quite some time. His days are journaled in the book. He will never be forgotten! Thank you!
Deborah, I read your story with tears in my eyes. We brought a darling Ragdoll, Widget into our home only three weeks ago, and he has won our hearts from the very first day. Can’t imagine the pain of losing him. thank you for what you are doing to save the lives of these wonderful creatures. Chris Chocallo and Widget, Sarasota FL
I am wishing you many healthy and happy years with Widget! I am sure he will bring you lots of joy. They are wonderful animals! Thank you for your kind words.
Oh, Debbie, how my heart is aching for you and your family and sweet little Kona. Your story just made me burst into tears when I got to the part where Kona was diagnosed with FIP and then passed away last August. I’m glad you were able to take your grief and Kona’s loss and turn them into something productive to raise awareness of how deadly and devastating FIP is to our beloved kittehs. Thank you for sharing Kona’s story with us and I pray for comfort and strength to you and your family (whom I am sure are still missing that adorable little fighter with the beautiful blaze on his sweet sweet face). We never really get over the loss of a loved one. But we do learn how to cope and live our lives while holding their memories close in our hearts. I hope that my beloved kittehs (who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in the past) were waiting to welcome Kona as he arrived.
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle <3
I have an 11 month old red lynx mitted ragdoll from my sister’s cattery in California. I thought about how I would feel if my adorable boy had what Kona did. I cried reading your painful story. There is just no way to ease the hurt and the loss of your adorable kitty. You are doing the best thing you can to make your story known. I wish it was available in book form. I don’t have a Kindle or use I books. May what you are doing help other kitties, for as of right now without the research there is no cure for FIP.
@blondesoprano, thought you mind find in helpful for the future to know that you don’t have own a Kindle in order to use the App and it’s free. It can be used on most smartphones, computers and tablets.
I know you said that you don’t read e-books and I totally get it. I resisted for a long time and now, even though I have a Kindle I absolutely love reading on my old iPhone 4. You can control the contrast and the font size so it is much easier on the eyes that I anticipated.
If your library supports it you can also get e-books from the library right from your home.
You probably already know this but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share in case someone else reading wasn’t aware.
It was an awful experience and there are thousands out there who have and who are experiencing this. I never heard of FIP until I had Kona. I had 3 other cats before him. The loss will always be felt … They do leave paw prints on our hearts! My hank you!
Thank you Patti. I started a page on Facebook for him called Kona’s Story – Fighting FIP back when he was diagnosed, all the way until he passed and still keep up with it. The book is based on that page as it is a diary of his days…which were sometimes really great. The book is not as sad as many think as he had some wonderful days with us.
We do miss him everyday! Thank you for your kind words!
Thank you! I am so sorry I did not respond sooner. Kona was very easy to share and I started his story on Facebook where I journaled his days after the diagnosis. I am not sure why I did it. I do know that after a while it became therapy for me, getting out every day how I felt and how I thought he felt from his actions. So many people loved him and wanted me to continue. So I did, even after his passing. I am sure all of our lost loved ones are waiting to meet us again when it is our time. I never doubt that…it keeps us going! Hugs to you!
What a heartbreaking story. I am in tears. What a beautiful writer you are even though it is a tragic story. I am so sorry for your loss. Kona was certainly a precious kitten. You certainly should be commended for all you did for him. Take care and I hope you never have to go through this kind of thing ever again.
Thank you! He will never be forgotten and I will always try to help fight FIP.
If you click on the book cover, it will take you to Amazon.com where you can purchase the book. All proceeds from the sale of the book with be used to fund FIP research!
I cried reading this and I cried more reading the book, I lost my angel Dusty two years ago this month to this horrible disease and not a single day goes by I don’t think of him.
I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Dusty! What a cute name! They capture our hearts, don’t they. I believe there is a special place at the Rainbow Bridge for all the kitties lost to this horrible disease. I will continue to do what I can to find ways to fund further research. The Bria Fund is a special fund just for FIP Research and I do believe one day there will be a cure. Thank you for purchasing the book…you are helping find that cure!