Lucky – My Bengal Dream Kitten with FIP

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Lucky was the sweetest kitten I ever had. Although he was a pure Bengal, he loved to be held and would sit in your lap for hours at a time. Unfortunately, he had FIP and died at 4-months. I only had him for 1-month of his life, but he touched my heart so deeply. He did not deserve this terrible disease.

FIP or Feline Infectious Peritonitis is the disease that vets worry about. It is deadly and is not treatable. There are reports that many cats and kittens are exposed to the Coronavirus and may be carriers, but in some cases, it mutates into the deadly FIP.

Lucky was from Xanadu Dream Bengals in Ft. Lauderdale. I was looking for another Bengal, and something about Xanadu’s cats stood out. When I saw a picture of Lucky, I knew he was the one. He was beautiful! He was covered in rosettes from head to tail. I asked a bunch of questions and everything seemed right. He also had a “health guaranteed” as stated on the breeder’s website.

I flew down to Ft. Lauderdale to meet the breeder, see the cats and pick-up Lucky. He was just 12-weeks old. The breeder had an outdoor patio with cat fencing where he let the cats roam. They also used this area as a outdoor litter box. When I saw Lucky urinate on a patch of dirt, I asked if he was litter box trained and the breeder assured me he was. (First clue?) While I was waiting on the patio, I saw two of his breeders go under a gap in the fence and escape into the neighborhood. They eventually came back on their own, so this seemed like a habit for the pair. When I questioned the breeder about this, he just dismissed it and said that they can get out of the Stud House as well. (Second clue?) Eventually, we started the paperwork and he left because he had “new stickers” for the vaccinations that he wanted to use. He apparently was also acting as their vet as well. (Third clue?)

I flew home with Lucky and all seemed fine for the first week. I had my vet check him out within two days. In the vet’s office, he sneezed and started to tremble due to the cold air-conditioning. The vet saw it. He asked if he was vaccinated. I said “yes” and showed him the paperwork. The vet just dismissed the behavior as a “kitten cold”. Everything seed fine.

At first, Lucky was a crazy ball of energy. He would run around so fast that his rear legs would catch up with his front and he would run sideways! He also did the sideways hop that I loved about Bengals. He would play with just about anything. If he could reach it, it became his toy. But, he also loved to snuggle in for a nap. Lucky was my dream kitten.

That first week, I did have some litter box issues with him. He would use the litter box, but also thought nothing of using the carpet. I started to confine him to one room with a litter box and he seemed to get the idea … until he had a very large bowel movement on the carpet. It was very soft but did have shape. I also started to notice his belly looked puffy. (Fourth clue?) I decided that it was all related to his food and switched him from the breeder’s Nutro Max Kitten to Orijen Cat and Kitten. He seemed much better and I focused on litter box training again.

The next week, he seemed fine and loved exploring his new home. He was an only cat, kept indoors, but received plenty of attention and toys.

The following week, something did change. He started to get more fussy with playing. I thought he was just getting bored, so I tried some new toys. By mid-week, he became a complete mush and would not play. I was home that day due to a freak flash flood and could not get to work, so it was really obvious. He also seemed really warm. That evening, I rushed him to the Animal Emergency Hospital when the roads were accessible. The emergency vet thought he was dehydrated and gave him fluids. She said he probably had some kind of parasite from the raw Cat Food and should monitor him. He seemed better, but something was still not right. I brought him back to the Hospital on Saturday to have the Head of Internal Medicine examine him. That was the first time I heard FIP. She was very concerned about the size of his belly. This little kitten had a 12-inch belly. She wanted to run a bunch of tests, but she already knew. She drew blood, a sample of the fluid and a stool sample. Within a few days, everything came back indicating FIP.

I started to research what this FIP was. I also joined a support group on Yahoo, FIPCatSupport. There is a lot of confusion and misdiagnosis when it comes to FIP. Cornell has tried to study it as well as different Foundations. No one has been able to get a handle on it. The only conclusion is when it appears, it is fatal. It is the nightmare disease!

Over the next week, my beautiful Lucky developed all the classic symptoms – beside the large “jelly belly” filled with liquid, he also lost muscle mass, developed an exposed spine under his fur, squinty eyes and complete loss of energy.  Through the support group, I started working with a FIP Researcher in Washington, studying healthy thymus immune function as it relates to FIP.  Her research shows a healthy thymus can overcome FIP,  and gives owners an option for helping to recover the  thymus health of the cat.  She also warns against the use of steroids like Prednisone which cause permanent damage to the thymus in cats.  Through a regimen of Homeotherapy and supplements, we did manage to reduce the fluid in his stomach by 1.5 inches. He also seemed to start to respond and was more alert again. Unfortunately, this past Thursday, he could not stand on his own and was having trouble breathing. I rushed him back to Emergency and put him on oxygen, but the disease had taken its toll. He stopped breathing and I lost my little dream kitten! He was only 4-months old.

I may have only had him for a month, but he had my heart. I loved him enough for a lifetime and he knew it. I just wish that I had more time with him.

No animal deserves a disease like FIP. There needs to be more research and support. There needs to be a cure!


NOTE:  A few people have emailed me that they are getting closer to a cure.  This is not true.  The Head of Internal Medicine at the Animal Hospital contacted Cornell and the different Research Foundations.  Almost all FIP research is on hold or has been abandoned in favor of more lucrative grants.  If this was a canine disease, there would be a cure already.  Felines do not get the research they deserve.  This needs to change!  We need a cure for FIP – Feline Infectious Peritonitis!


NOTE:  As of 12/31/2014, Mike Armenti, the breeder and owner of Xanadu Dream Bengals, has refused to honor his health guaranty for Lucky. Something to keep in mind when selecting a Bengal breeder. All he offers is heartache!

NOTE: I just read that Irene de Villers had past away. She had accumulated a wealth of FIP research which is still available online here:

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20 Replies to “Lucky – My Bengal Dream Kitten with FIP”

  1. I’m so very sorry you lost this beautiful boy! FIP is such a heartbreak, and I wish they’d come up with a way to treat it. I haven’t had to deal with it (so far), but my beloved Bengal, Faji, had a wee lass of a littermate who went to a breeder. When the breeder showed little Fancy, she picked up the virus at one of the shows and died. Faj passed about a month ago, at the age of 15 1/2, and I never realized how deeply desolation could cut (though I’ve seen many, many critters to the Bridge over my lifetime). But y’know, you said it: the two of you lived and loved enough for a lifetime in the short while you were together. And I’d be willing to bet that his spirit is with you still–and not just in your heart. They do tend to keep watch on us after they pass, because the death of a body doesn’t destroy the spirit. It certainly doesn’t destroy love!

  2. Cindy, thank you for your kind words! This past month has been very tough. Lucky was so sweet, gentle and lovable. He did not deserve this terrible disease.

  3. No, he refused. Mike Armenti from Xanadu is heartless and not a person of honor. Several breeders on the Yahoo’s Bengal List have also had problems with him.

  4. I truly understand the pain you went through with Lucky. A year ago I had to make the hardest decision I ever had to make. I had to put down my beloved snow Bengal down. Her name was Snow White and she had fip. The breeders I got her from were devastated when I told them what happened. They were so sympathetic with me that they told me when and if I was ever ready for another Bengal they would give me one for free. They did not have to do that according to the health guarantee they have. But that proved to me how great of people they are. A few months after Snow White had passed I got another Bengal from them. This one was a year old and passed the age to where fip is more prone. Fip is a horrible disease and I pray that one day there is a cure. I hope you find another Bengal to love someday. You will never forget Lucky and how much you loved her. I still think about and miss Snow White to this day. But I do love my new baby Lexi. My heart goes out to you.

  5. I brought home my first Bengal kitten today. I made an appointment with the nearest vet in that town the day before. So, I had her checked within minutes of leaving her breeder. She is SO VERY calm and it has started to worry me. She looks healthy (IMO), but was treated for fleas, worms and mites during her appointment. I’m hoping she is so calm and tired due to those parasites and will be feeling better soon. Yet, here I am looking up “lethargic kittens” and becoming very scared! I’m so sorry for your loss….what a disgusting breeder!!!!!

  6. I hope your kitten is just suffering from a change in environment. Bengals can hate changes in environments especially if they are closer to Foundations. But, listen to your gut. Find a vet who really specializes in cats and really push for answers. And, don’t give up!

  7. It truly is bitter sweet that I’ve come across this site, I am just in the process to see if my snow baby girl Fauna has FIP, she has all the signs and this past week has really gone in her shell, I don’t know weather she is in pain but she doesn’t look like it. Fauna is 6 month old now and I’ve only had her for two months so I know exactly how you feel I too fell in love as soon as I seen her picture I knew she was the one and now watching her be so quiet is heartbreaking for me and my 10 year old daughter. I get her results this week but I already know and it’s soul destroying that these kitties have to go through this horrible infection. She is our first Bengal and we’ve loved her dearly but I guess the harder you love the harder it is to let go. I don’t know if I could get another Kitten as I couldn’t go through this again. Does anyone have any advice to give me on how to go about it the best way as I can’t let fauna suffer (it was bad enough watching her have fluid and blood taken) kind regards Victoria

  8. Don’t give up hope! Vets can jump to FIP because it is the easy answer to a difficult question. There are other problems which can mimic FIP.

    Join this Yahoo Group for info & support on dealing with FIP –

    You may need to force feed your kitten while she is undergoing treatment. Do not be afraid of that. Baby food in a ziplock bag can be piped into the kitten mouth like frosting a cake. You need to keep the kitten’s body mass up while you treat the cause. And, give her plenty of love. She needs that too.

    Best of luck with Fauna and never give up hope!

  9. Thanks for that, she has lost a lot of muscle and now her heart is beating really fast. She isn’t playing at all now, I don’t know weather to take her back to the vets but I know there’s nothing they can do until the results. I normally give her Royal canin kitten dry food but today I cooked her chicken in coconut oil for a treat and she eat every bit. I’m really glad I’ve been lucky enough to find this conversation as you don’t see much on the internet about FIP, and it’s nice to talk to someone that have been through it with their kitty ?

  10. Do you by chance know who the parents of your sweet baby were? There is a genetic link and I would be interested to see how many cats his parents produced.

  11. I bought a gorgeous big boy from Xanadu. He was 7 months old so he was reasonably priced(at least that’s what I thought). He had diarrhea on the way home and continued throughout his life. He was checked for every parasite. His x-rays showed a largely expanded colon. He was given treatment for Mega Colon. (Mira lax and something in a tube, forgot the name). He reached 22 lbs and had a huge belly. One Saturday morning he was dragging his foot. I took him to the vet. We thought maybe he hurt his hip jumping, being so large(about 22″ long). He got a pain shot. I saw him trying to eat and drink a couple of times. I checked on him frequently. I checked on him before bed. 10 minutes later I got up and checked and he was dead. The emergency vet suggested a blood clot or heart attack.
    Xanadu’a owner doesn’t seem too concerned about passing on genetic issues. When we were there, his male mouthpiece was wearing a security ankle bracelet while Mike was fairly quiet in the background. I saw their mug shots on line later, also. They knew the cat had issues or would not have sold such a beautiful cat so cheaply and probably needed the money. Mike seemed like a nice guy and probably inherited the business from his father. Buyer beware.

  12. I just found out that my one year old Bengal girl has FIP. I’m devastated. I’ve contacted the breeder but haven’t heard back from her. Our little girl has literally only been in the breeders house, their cat, our car, our house and the vet.

    She’s been a super sneezer since the moment we got her. Should that have been a clue?

    I’m going the Yahoo group for more info.

  13. I am so sorry! Lucky sneezed during his first Vet visit. You definitely should join the FIP Group as well as the WholeCatHealth Group at Yahoo too. Don’t feel alone about this. These groups are very supportive and can provide plenty of info.

    Considering your cat is 1-year old, I would also get a second option. Vets love to jump to the FIP diagnosis because they can run a bunch of tests. Try to find a Vet that actually specializes in cats.

  14. So sorry about your baby! I lost my beautiful Zaire at 4 months. Got a replacement cat from the breeder, now he has it too. I am so heartbroken!

  15. I am so very sorry for your loss..!! Unfortunately, other than 2 weeks Viral (and 1 year Congenital, which it isn’t), FIP does not fall under the umbrella of a Full Standard Health Guarantee (federal regulations), as no kitten/cat can be guaranteed to be free from Feline Enteric Corona VIRUS (FeCV). Research physicians estimate that 93.7 Percent of All Cats have contracted it, which can, on rare occasions, mutate and cause the fatal disease FIP. Keep in mind, that kittens/cats are LIVE Animals – not stuffed toys, therefore any number of things can come up from time to time, which are beyond the Breeder’s control. So, no matter how much effort a reputable Breeder puts forth to assure the health of a Live animal, things like this can and do happen from time to time.

  16. My Bengal kittty Baby got a prognosis of fip. She just turned 3 years old… i refuse to believe it and am asking the vet to test the fluid they collected from her stomach. Her symptoms when we went to the dr was the fluid in her stomach, her lymph around her anus were swollen and she was anaemic (17-20 when she should’ve been 35). My mind keeps trying to make sense of this. That I’m devastated is an understatement. She is my baby. she’s home with me and is doing better than the day I took her to the vet (4 days ago). She’s eating well, drinking water, pooping/peeing normally. Her stomach seems less droopy. I am scared to death of receiving the vets call cuz of what he might say. I don’t want her to die. I don’t want to euthanize her cuz she still seems to have so much life in her. I don’t want her to suffer in pain either. And I can’t help but blame myself. That I should’ve seen it or known she was getting sick or done something more or better to keep her healthy…. I’m spiraling… This is unbearable. Any advise or help would help..

  17. Don’t give up hope! Vets can jump to FIP because it is the easy answer to a difficult question. There are other problems which can mimic FIP.

    Join this Yahoo Group for info & support on dealing with FIP –

    You may need to force feed your cat while Baby is undergoing treatment. Do not be afraid of that. Baby food in a ziplock bag can be piped into the kitten mouth like frosting a cake. You need to keep Baby’s body mass up while you treat the cause. And, give her plenty of love. She needs that too.

    Best of luck with Baby and never give up hope!

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