FIP Cure & Palliative Treatments
The Cure for FIP: GS441 ("GS")
Prior to February 2019, feline infectious peritonitis was a guaranteed death sentence to cats. Thanks to a lifetime of dedication and devotion, Dr Niels Pedersen of UC Davis discovered the cure for FIP: the nucleoside analog GS-441524, also referred to as “GS”.
How GS441 Cures FIP
If a cat’s immune system is healthy and mature, the white blood cells should fight off an infection or virus, and allow the cat to build up an immune response, or antibodies. Cats who develop FIP have an immune defect or deficiency that causes the white blood cells to replicate, rather than fight, the virus. Essentially, the cats immune system is spreading the virus throughout the cat’s body rather than trying to eliminate it. Cats who have no immune response develop wet FIP, while cats who have a partial immune response develop dry FIP.
The nucleoside analog GS-441524 is a molecular precursor to a pharmacologically active nucleoside triphosphate molecule. These analogs act as an alternative substrate and RNA-chain terminator of viral RNA dependent RNA polymerase. In layman’s terms, GS441 interjects itself into the chain reaction and stops the replication of the virus.
Course of GS441 Treatment
Dr Pedersen’s case study determined that a successful course of treatment with GS441 is *84 days*, administered daily. Some owners have stopped treating once blood work and diagnostics returned to normal; however, the few cats who did relapse were among those who stopped prior to the 84 day protocol. Because the course of treatment is both emotionally and financially taxing, most owners currently using GS opt to pursue the full 84 days, to ensure the highest probability of success. Cats who undergo the full 84 days and remain symptom-free for an 84 day observation period following conclusion of treatment are officially cured of FIP.
GS441 comes in both injectable form, and as of June 2019, a pill form. Both are administered daily and the dose is based on the weight of the cat.
For wet & dry FIP without neurological or ocular symptoms, the recommended dosage starts at 5mg (GS) x weight (kg) / GS concentration per 1mL = dose per 24 hr. Ocular FIP cats require a starting dosage of 8mg/kg MINIMUM. Neurological cases start at a minimum of 10mg/kg. These figures are only a guide. Each cat should be assessed based on severity of illness and symptoms in order to determine the appropriate starting dosage. Occasionally, some severe cats do need to go higher than 10mg/kg.
A dosing calculator can be found here.
It is important to note that the dosage should not be reduced during the course of treatment, regardless of how well the cat is responding. Conversely, if the cat is not responding to the starting dosage, it is safe to increase. It is also crucial to check the cat’s weight often, and adjust the daily dose accordingly.
The only known side effect of GS441 is skin lesions or burns, due to the acidity of the solution (injectable form). For this reason, it is recommended to always clean the cat’s skin after giving an injection. Many owners also opt to give oral CBD oil or Hemp oil 30-60 minutes before injecting, to help minimize the stress. Should you opt to do this, it is critical that the product be veterinary grade and the proper dose should be determined by a veterinarian. CBD and/or hemp oil can be fatal to a cat if not administered properly. More commonly, Gabapentin, a mild pain medication can be given orally 60-90 minutes prior to the injection. The vast majority of cats using GS tolerate the injections just fine without the need for any pain medication or sedative.
***84 days is the suggested protocol. In some cases, cats may need to extend beyond the 84 days, if lab work has not yet returned to normal. All cats should have new labs run prior to day 84, to determine if it is appropriate to end treatment.***
While we’ve seen first hand that GS is a miracle drug, it’s not the end-all-be-all. You still need to support your cat’s well-being while waiting for GS to arrive and until your cat starts to respond to it. Proper supportive care can make all the difference as to whether or not the cat survives. Lack of proper supportive care can cause further complications, up to and including death.
Cats need to consume minimally 200 calories per day and 60 ml of water per day. Anemia needs to be treated, whether via B12 or possibly a transfusion, depending on severity. Fluids may need to be drained. Fevers need to be monitored and reduced. For additional information about crucial home care and supportive care of FIP cats, please continue here.
Supplemental Care When Using GS441 to Cure FIP
In general, unless the cat has a secondary or underlying condition besides FIP, all prescription medications can be stopped once treatment with GS begins. However, all cats, FIP or not, can benefit from a high quality probiotic such as Fortiflora. A healthy gut is essential in fighting FIP and can help stave off so many other illnesses too.
For additional information on overall wellness and support, please view the vitamins and supplements page.
Palliative Care for Cats With FIP
We understand that there are many reasons why someone may not want to use GS441. While it is highly effective, it is also still experimental and in many circumstances, cost prohibitive.
For those who wish to provide palliative treatment to their FIP cat, there are several options available.
Polyprenyl Immunostimulant, or “PI” as it is commonly referred to in the FIP groups, is an oral supplement that is administered daily for 1-2 weeks, then every other day once the jump-start dose is completed. PI is approved to treat feline herpes; however, it is used off-label to treat feline infectious peritonitis. It is not a cure of FIP, but there have been some long term FIP survivors. PI is best suited for dry FIP, and the success rate (defined as surviving 1 year or more) is approximately 10%.
Polyprenyl is used to enhance and strengthen the cat’s immune system, ideally to allow the cat to fight off the virus.
Cats who are using Polyprenyl should also be receiving overall systemic support by way of weekly B12 injections, daily B12 supplements, and if and as needed, appetite stimulants and ant-nausea medication. Typically an anti-viral medication will also be prescribed for 10-14 days.
PI must be prescribed and ordered by a veterinarian. The necessary forms and ordering information can be found on Vet Immune’s website.
*Cats who are taking Polyprenyl for FIP should NOT be taking steroids, as steroids will weaken the cat’s immune system and work against the PI.
Prednisolone / Steroid Treatment for FIP
For many years, steroid treatment was the only option for FIP cats. It is entirely palliative in nature, i.e. it’s purpose is to keep the cat comfortable for however much time he/she has left.
Steroids are inexpensive and can help provide temporary comfort to an FIP cat by increasing appetite, reducing fever, reducing inflammation, and with wet FIP, steroids may also help to reduce the effusion.
Home Care/Supportive Care
The success of palliative care, as well as your cat’s quality of life, depends highly on supportive care and treating symptoms such as inappetence, fever, anemia, diarrhea and more. Please continue reading about supportive care here.
Dedicated to all FIP angels.
All information contained on this website is compiled from real-life experiences of cat owners who are currently, or have previously treated their cats for FIP. Most of us are not veterinarians and the information provided within is not intended to substitute or replace medical care by a licensed veterinarian.