Ragdoll Cat Addie’s Story of Feline Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Sclerosing Fibroplasia Discovery
Addie’s Feline Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Sclerosing Fibroplasia Discovery Story written by Amy Dean (her owner)
August 2nd was like any other normal day for me. I went to work, came home for a bit and was about to leave to go to my yoga class when I came downstairs to rather large piles of watery-vomit (full of cat food). I have two cats– Ash and Addie (both 2 years old) — so process of elimination, Ash was fine and Addie was foaming at the mouth. I thought she might’ve eaten something bad and just needed to get it out of her system. I went to yoga for an hour, came back to more throw up.
I decided to wait about another hour, and Addie was really pissy and curled up in a ball. (Her normal behavior is very bossy, center of attention and quite vocal) I called members of my family to ask for their advice and see if they had experienced anything similar with their cats. Majority of them suggested to take Addie in if her condition didn’t improve. At that time, it was nearing 9:30/10pm and I just said to myself, “I can’t go to bed like this.” I called my sister, Jenny, and told her I was bringing Addie in, and she kindly offered to go with me. We went to a Mission Veterinary Emergency & Specialty, and they immediately took an x-ray and saw a mass and could palpitate the mass and Addie reacted unfavorably. VCA sent Addie’s x-ray images to veterinary surgeon, Dr. Kurt Hazenfield and he came in around 11:30pm. Dr. Hazenfield explained to us that something just didn’t seem right about the images, and they were too unclear to wait until the morning. Addie went under around 12:30am. Her surgery finished around 3:45am.
I’m not going to lie, the waiting process was pure and utter hell. VCA gave us the option of waiting until Addie was out of surgery or we could go home, and they would give us a call with an update. We chose to wait and ended up taking a walk around the area of where VCA is located. During that walk, VCA called and told us that it was a mass and potentially cancer. Our hearts sank. (In February 2016, we lost our Napa, a 10 year old German Shepherd to cancer.) The mass had ruptured and fecal matter was floating around in her abdominal cavity. He flushed her abdominal cavity with a liter of fluid to clean it out. Dr. Hazenfield said that her lymph nodes were inflamed, but thought it may have been from the irritation of the bowel liquids in her abdomen. Lab results came back verifying that it was FGESF (Feline Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Sclerosing Fibroplasia) and NOT cancer. Dr. Hazenfield had never seen a cat with FGESF and needed to read up on the disease.
He said Addie was a lucky kitty–as she would’ve either died overnight because of the inner poisoning or would have been a VERY sick kitty in the morning. I am glad I listened to my instincts. Addie was a champ in recovery. She ended up staying nearly 3 full days at VCA. The vet techs and the doctors were really impressed with her quick progress of eating, movement and using the litterbox. I was so pleased to see her personality was back (even though it was slightly masked because of all the medications), but her bossy and sweet personality was shining through again—quite the difference from a few days prior.
I was really nervous to bring Addie home. How would Ash react? How do I take care of a sick cat? She had a cone around her head and a very lightweight gauze suit on her body. Jenny went and bought infant onesies at Old Nacy and those kind of worked. Addie was not supposed to lick her incision, not supposed to jump, go up or down stairs and be confined to one room. UM?! Have you ever tried to restrain a cat from doing said activities?!?
Bringing Addie Home After Surgery
The thought of preventing a 2-year old cat of jumping and licking was daunting. I hauled the litterbox upstairs to my bedroom, along with food and water. Addie could not have free range of the house, so that meant Ash was with us too. My fears of how Ash would interact with Addie were quickly dismissed with the way he greeted her, as if he missed her. He was so sweet and definitely was curious with the smells. Addie stayed in my room for several weeks until her stitches had sealed up a bit more. This period of time was really stressful. Like I said earlier, preventing a cat from jumping, let alone a regularly active 2 year old cat, was nearly impossible. There was leakage from her stitches at times—sometimes blood and other times more watery-like fluid. There was one night that I completely freaked out and took her in because the fluid just kept on coming out. It turned out to be the fluid surrounding the incision and it was a good thing that it had drained on its own (meanwhile, it made me almost have a heart attack!). There was one lifesaver product during this recovery time (I wish VCA had it for sale) that a couple of Floppycatters on Facebook recommended and I purchased—Suitical. It covered Addie’s incision completely, allowed her to go the bathroom and had extra fabric towards the neck so it restricted movement.
At this point, I was emotionally and physically drained. Working 8+ hours a day at my job, worrying about her at home and hoping she wasn’t going to rip open her stitches somehow, made it for a stressful time. The support I had from Jenny and my family was incredible. She came to the checkup appointments, went to go see her during the day when I was at work and reassured me that Addie was going to be just fine. Also, the Floppycats community was incredible supportive during the crazy time period of the surgery and her recovery – Jenny and I posted updates frequently on Floppycats’ Facebook page. I really appreciated all of their kind words and understanding of the stress that you go through as an owner.
Ultrasounds to Monitor the Disease
Addie has had 3 ultrasounds since her surgery in August. All of the ultrasounds have come out relatively well, only one of them had a little more thickening of her gut than the other two. We have adjusted her diet so she only eats foods that incorporate beef, turkey, duck, goose, rabbit, pigeon, quail and pork. It was suggested by Dr. Pat Perkins that we avoid any food containing fish and chicken because those proteins are known to have inflammatory properties. So far, so good. Ash has followed suit with the diet change like a champ. It has been quite the process narrowing down which foods they enjoy and which ones they won’t touch. I have had the most luck with beef, turkey and pork.
How Much Did Surgery Cost?
Somewhere reading along this… you are probably thinking, “How much did this procedure cost?” It was a solid chunk of money. In total, Addie’s surgery, ultrasounds, appointments, new foods, etc, has been right around $10,000.
Pet Insurance to the Rescue
The silver lining in all of this though… Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. My parents had never had pet insurance when we were growing up (that will be a change with any new animals!); but Ash and Addie’s previous owner had a policy that I decided to take over once I adopted them. I AM SO GLAD I DID. Holy moly, it was a blessing to have pet insurance. (There are so many pet insurances out there that are GREAT, so if you do decide to get pet insurance, make sure to research your options).
The policy I have for Addie was a $250 deductible and 90% reimbursement rate—I pay around $22 per month. Her policy covered any emergency surgeries, hospital stays, ultrasounds, blood tests, etc. (Like I said earlier, every policy is different, so make sure to explore your options if you are interested in pet insurance.) I feel so incredibly lucky that I kept the insurance.
I submitted the multiple hospital bills for Addie and Healthy Paws was prompt in sending me a check. They covered exactly what they told me they would in the plan. There were some things that were not covered, but all in all, I was reimbursed for around 80-90% of her surgery. It is best to register your pets at the earliest possible age because they do not have any “pre-existing” conditions.
Addie will stay with Healthy Paws insurance for the rest of her life, as now it would not be wise to move her to another carrier because she now has a pre-existing condition/disease (i.e. Feline Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Sclerosing Fibroplasia).
I have since moved Ash over to Nationwide Pet Insurance because they cover one dental per year and cover more routine checkups (something that Healthy Paws does not—again, make sure to research). Jenny’s Ragdoll cats, Charlie and Trigg, are also on Nationwide Pet Insurance’s plan.
The Disease Moving Forward
Addie’s disease will be something I have to monitor the rest of her life, especially because the disease is a relatively new discovery. As always, we will keep you up to date on her progress, but I consider myself very lucky and feel like everything happened for a reason.
I can’t imagine my life without her sweet and sassy 9 lb. frame. I was so impressed with how she continues to handle her vet visits and has been a great patient. She is such a loved little girl! Jenny and I had an interview with Dr. Michael Linton of of Eastside Veterinary Emergency and Specialists in Sydney, Australia shortly afterwards. He is known as the world expert on the disease.
The audio of our interview can be listened to in the the YouTube video posted below or you can read the interview here: Feline Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Sclerosing Fibroplasia Interview with Dr. Michael Linton of Eastside Veterinary Emergency and Specialists
FGESF More Reading
FGESF Facebook Support Group
What Addie Eats:
My sister’s cat is on the following foods:
- Instinct Grain Free limited ingredient diet real turkey pate
- Caru classics grain and gluten free turkey stew
- Lotus Just Juicy Pork Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
- Lotus Just Juicy Turkey Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food By Lotus
And this video explains why:
Amy’s Pill Pill Calendar 💊 for Addie
How to Pill a Cat
Lynn wrote, “I love Excel and an excuse to do a spreadsheet or chart for anything! I think I got rid of all Chloe’s documentation after she died- I didn’t want any memories of that ordeal. But, found one that I created for Andy’s meds when he had heart disease. I’ll email you a copy!”
Here is the spreadsheet to download.
Lynn said, “Excel has a feature that allows you to “drag” down the dates, so once you enter the date on the first row, you can drag it down and it will fill the rest of the dates. Eliminates a lot of typing!”
I have a 4 year old Ragdoll who was diagnosed with the same thing. She had her first surgery in January 2021 to remove a mass in between the large and small intestine. Then again in august 2021 we felt another mass but turns out it’s located in the mesenteric lymph node (so they only could biopsy it). Now she is on prednisolone everyday for as long as she lives.. her vet never requested a diet change though. She eats life’s abundance dry food and one fancy feast broth (fish) which I add her medicine in. Not sure how long of a prognosis she has but they said it doesn’t look great.
I’m so sorry – be sure to join the Facebook group listed on the page to get ideas and help!
Thanks for your reply and thanks for Dr Michael’s contact, and glad to heard that Addie is doing well.
May I ask how long has Addie taken the Prednisolone ? Did Prednisolone response well to Addie? Amelia has taken Prednisolone for 9 days now, I can see and feel that she is not as comfortable as before she started to take medicine.
She is having the Hill prescription diet Z/D (both wet and dry food), After she started to take Prednisolone, she is crying for the food, but I try to control myself not to give her as much as she wants, as doctor advised that Prednisolone will make her eat and drink more, But it’s very difficult to measure what is the best amount to give to her.
Hi Celine, shoot me an email and I will get you in touch with my sister – she can answer these questions for you. My sister does not have her on a prescription diet. In general, I am not a fan of those – but you have to do what you trust about your vet. Addie has been on Prenisolone for a long time (years) – but the dosage and frequency changes based on ultrasounds she gets – like right now she takes it every 3rd day). My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks very much for sharing the story of Addie. I hope she is doing well. I understand how you and Amy felt when went through the whole process, As we’ve gone through the same situation.
My cat Amelia has also been diagnosed with FGESF , She had surgery on 10th Jan 2019, I was crying uncontrollably when I sent her to the clinic for surgery, as I didn’t know what’s going to happen during /after the surgery, not sure if it is the right decision, as doctor told me that she is unable to give me a number for how much risk is going to be, as there’s no enough cases to make the analysis.
Now I am so glad that I did make the right decision, the surgery went successfully, she had been taking very good care at the Emergency critical care for 5 days. she is recovery very well from the surgery. Doctor said she needs to be under long term medication to prevent it coming back, prescribed 1 Prednisolone once day (5mg)
We started to give her prednisolone table from 10th Feb 2019(one month time after the surgery), We split into 2 times a day equally, half table (2.5mg) each time, as I was afraid if 5mg is an considerably high dosage. I was so scared to give her this medicine due to the side effects, but the disease may come back if she is not under medication treatment. Never easy.
Amelia is doing very well at the moment, eating well, very bright.
I really hope Addie is doing very well, This will also give me a hope.
Hoping all cats who is suffer from FGESF will have appropriate treatment and long term survival.
Sorry to hear about your Amelia – but FGESF is not a death sentence – just needs a lot of maintenance. Addie is doing well. There’s actually a study going on that you might be interested in:
Team members at Sydney Veterinary Emergency and Specialist in Sydney, Australia are exploring a possible genetic link of a newly emerging disease process called Feline Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Sclerosing Fibroplasia and Ragdoll breed cats.
Despite being in the early stages of the research, initial studies have demonstrated a possible genetic predilection of the condition within Ragdoll cats.
They hope findings of the study will determine an underlying cause of the disease which will be integral in future management and prevention of the condition.
They are looking for any healthy or diagnosed purebed (with papers) Ragdoll cats to assist them in exploring any possible link to the condition.
• A small blood sample
• A cheek swab
• Pedigree history (only if available)
Please know that Sydney Veterinary Emergency and Specialists will fund all testing.
For further information or expressions of interest, please contact Dr Michael Linton at email@example.com
für some reason I can’t answer directly to your comment.
Your guess was right, I am from Germany. We adopt quite a lot of cats from other european countries here, as our animal welfare ist okay and we only have no-kill shelters, while animal rights especially in spain, greek and bulgaria are more or less non-existent.
Orpheus is 5-6 years old, I got him when he was around 8 months old. At the time of the diagnosis he should have been 5.
Turkey and duck are okay für Orpheus, maybe I should concentrate on those two. But do you really feed your cats pork? It can contain Aujeszky’s virus/pseudorabies unless you heat it before feeding.
What kind of medication does Addie get?
No problem – I think after so many replies the comment system doesn’t allow it to continue – #lame.
Yes, I am aware of the Greek situation, but didn’t know it about Spain – too bad. Another reader on my site is a Danish vet and she goes with a group of people every year to Greece to rescue dogs and cats and bring them back to Scandanavia.
My sister doesn’t feed raw – she gives them canned food – so the pork has been cooked. Anyway, I just wanted to share what the acupuncturist had said to my sister – not necessarily what you should do with your cat. Although the world expert in the disease did agree with the acupuncturist on the fish thing. Did you see our interview with him? Michael Linton? He is awesome.
Addie, too, is on Prednisolone – my sister is at work, but doesn’t know dosage – and also Metronidazole. After her last ultrasound, her Doctor, Dr. Bangert changed her Metro to every day and Preniolone to every other day.
I am SO happy to have found your story. My cat Orpheus suffers from FGESF too and we have been through similar things! He was getting thinner and thinner, started vomiting and could not really use the toilet. It took much too long for the vets to find the tumor! At that point he was very close to an ileus. Thank god the surgery went well and he ist back to his happy silly self now. We also do a ultrasound every few months.
Do you know if there is any community für people with FGESF Cats? I guess with a disease as rare as that it would be really helpful to have contact to other cat owners dealing with it.
Much love to you and sweet Addie!
I have passed on your comment to my sister, Amy.
You can use this page as a forum for cat owners with FGESF.
Sorry to hear that Orpheus has FGESF – but glad they found it. What breed is he? What does he eat now? Have you tried any other things like holistic vets? How is his diseases being monitored?
Hi! Thank you for your quick answer 🙂
Orpheus is a stray mix from spain, no specific breed.
The disease was diagnosed by the vet wo did the tumor surgery (August 2016), but since then we have moved to another city with a big and extremely good vet clinic. There he gets his ultrasounds every two or three months, and if anything looks strange there are specialists at hand. We are quite lucky to have that clinic! Apart from that, I keep a wary eye on his weight, eating behaviour and if he is vomiting or having difficulties on the toilet.
His current medication consists a daily dose of prednisolone, which we try to keep as low as possible due to the side effects. Right now he gets 5 mg and 2,5 mg alternating, but we hope we can reduce it to 2,5 mg per day.
The food did not change that much – my cats have always been fed a raw meat diet because Orpheus tends to get diarrhea from canned food, even the good one. Even with raw meat he only tolerates poultry and fish, any red meat instantly comes out again. Chicken and fish is not ideal, but (according to my vet clinic) still better than him throwing up all day… The only difference now is that he is not allowed to eat parts that are hard to digest like bones or cartilage. Anything else is okay for him! I add psyllium husks to his meat so his stool is a little softened. He loves his diet and so far there are no problems. Also, he is not allowed to eat grass anymore. He gets malt paste or little bit of butter instead when changing his coat.
Greetings and sorry if my english is not that good, i’m not really used to it.
If Orpheus is from Spain – where are you? Your email looks to be German?
How old is Orpheus?
Glad to hear Orpheus and your cats eat raw – it is the best.
The Eastern medicine doc Amy took Addie to suggested to avoid fish and also warm meats like Chicken because of the inflamation. So Addie is on a cold meat only diet – like turkey, duck, pork, etc.
Your English is awesome – I understood everything and grammatically it is great too.
Thank you, Amy, for the detailed story on Addie’s (and your) ordeal! You really captured what it’s like to have a sick kitty and all the anxious waiting involved. Thank goodness you followed your instincts and took her in when you did! Every year when I pay my pet insurance bill, I wonder whether I really need this for two healthy, relatively young, cats, but you just reinforced that I’m doing the right thing by having the insurance!
So wonderful that Addie has such a great Mom and Auntie Jenny to take her right away to the vet for emergency surgery! You guys saved her life. Can’t imagine how stressful it all was for everyone of you worrying about her during the surgery and then making sure she didn’t hurt herself afterwards. So glad you have such an amazing family to give you all the support needed to get through it all. Wonderful to hear that Addie is doing so well now and that she has adjusted well to her new diet. Thank goodness for the pet insurance!
Wishing Miss Addie a long life of good health from now on! Thanks so much for sharing her story. ♥♥♥♥
What a dreadful ordeal for Addie and for you! Thank you very much for sharing the whole story with all of us. I wish you and your kitties a happy, healthy new year…
Thank you for sharing your story about Addie! I was so worried for her when I heard what was happening. I keep procrastinating about getting pet insurance for my youngest (it’s too late for the two older boys, they already have pre-existing conditions), but I think I need to put it on my to-do list!
Wonderful post, Jenny & Amy! Very well-written, Amy! Thank you so very much for sharing everything you went through getting your baby girl healthy again. My goodness! I can just imagine how stressful the entire situation was and probably still is (take a while to get over something as serious as what Addie went through)! Thank goodness for your inner strength and pawesome family (especially Jenny!), health insurance and the love and support from all The Floppycatters in the world!
You and Addie made it through this intense and dangerous situation with flying colors, Amy! No one could have done it any better or with more love and determination!
I am so happy that Addie’s recovery has been going so very well and that she was quick to return to her normal, adorable self.
*GREAT BIG WARM CUDDLY LOVING HUGS* to you, Jenny, Addie & Ash AND Dr. Hazenfield and the super pawesome staff at VCA!!!
Happy New Year!!!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3