As many of you know, we had welcomed our silver Queen from Hawaii, Kilaueakoons Makai in our family! Little did we know though, that Makai was hiding something! As you can imagine, it was a great surprise to us and her breeder.
It was a very intense wait once we realized she was pregnant, accompanied by many sleepless nights of monitoring her, since we didn't know when her due date was. Makai, on the January 9th, had a big litter of 7 babies, unfortunately 4 of them were stillborn. So we are extremely thankful after weeks of closely monitoring the babies, that they continued gaining and drinking well.
Unfortunately this mating - since it was accidental - was between cousins and the complete inbreeding of the kittens was extremely high. The higher the inbreeding, the lower the immune system of the kitten.
We quickly realized this when the babies had their first set of vaccinations; they resulted in major side effects we never encountered before.
Since the kittens were incredibly typeful with a very nice outcross pedigree to us, we decided to keep two of them. While we would never breed with such high COI, we had the right cats to bring down the inbreeding.
Unfortunately, things got worse. Rhaegar (aka Nori) — when moved to his new home, he started showing signs of illness by shedding the coronavirus. Nobody knew then that it was much more serious than just an occasional tummy upset.
A month after Nori’s neutering, we received a phone call from his owner — a phone call that every breeder dreads the most. Nori was in the ER, and was diagnosed with wet FIP — they were ready to euthanize him at 8 months of age.
Please understand, having raised him, having fought for his life so many times as a newborn, and knowing that many vets are quick to misdiagnose FIP because there’s no single conclusive test for it — we simply were first in denial and wanted to do EVERY possible test in order to rule out any other disease that resembles FIP.
After countless repeated bloodwork exams, after sending off PCRs of the actual fluid in his lungs, after speaking directly with Dr. Niels Pedersen of UC Davis (the world’s foremost researcher of FIP), after talking to hundreds of breeders about Nori’s case — we realized it was indeed FIP and within weeks, we had to put him to sleep.
A devastating moment for us, and for his wonderfully sweet owner.
So, the question still remained: what was the ethical thing to do with his siblings and mother - since it is now understood that FIP has a 50% chance of being genetic, backed by so many new research articles finding that genetics are a far bigger factor than previously thought.
What we knew, was that his siblings had a reaction to the vaccines - and his mother had previously been mated to an outcross, and still produced a FIP kitten. So, mating to an outcross here would be still risky.
As breeders who are determined to breed for health as number one priority, it was a risk we didn’t want to take. We decided to neuter and spay the siblings — monitor them for a month or more, and give them without an adoption fee to their new home; a home we chose carefully and informed in great detail about this delicate situation.
The reason why we are open about this, is not to blame or shame anyone — but many have contacted us about kittens from this Queen, and many have left our waiting list when we announced Nori’s situation — and we just want to always be transparent and honest with everything and everyone.
The FIP is not anyone’s fault, but it is our responsibility to ensure that we breed with the most healthy lines and to prevent anything we can.
We had a FIP case when we first started years ago — and it turned out to be 100% genetic. We neutered and spayed everyone involved and we never had another case until Nori.
This is a side of breeding that not many talk about, because they’re afraid to be judged. This isn’t our concern at all. It is important to put the truth out there and work together in the cat fancy, for the betterment of the breed itself; not to stick one’s head in the sand when faced with difficulty.
Nori will not be forgotten, and will not be kept as a secret. He was born in our cattery — raised with all the love in the world both in our home and his new owner’s — we are so proud of him, and will never regret to have met him.
We would like to thank Makai’s breeder for understanding our feelings and worries about the whole FIP issue — we simply have major PTSD through our past experiences and cannot risk to work with this line, even if it was our line.
IN MEMORY OF METATRONEYES RHAEGAR | NORI
My sweet beautiful boy,
How dare you leave such void behind to so many that absolutely loved you? You were the sunshine to your mommy and daddy and the sweetest surprise to us.
You flew over the Atlantic Ocean and no one knew you were inside your mommy’s belly. After a very difficult, heartbreaking labor you were here - a survivor, and a fighter.
You had the sweetest white paws and the cutest white stripe on your nose. The softest long fur - that I caressed for hours while you snuggled up on my lap.
You quickly grew up healthy and strong - actually became the largest of the litter. You loved the attention in front of the camera, always ready for your beauty to be captured. You would tilt your head and look right through the lens with the sweetest and most curious expression. Always ready to play.
Your new mommy and daddy were so excited when you were old enough to move out of your nest. I was sad, because I wish I could keep all of you, but I knew you would be in the best hands possible.
When we met your new parents, I still remember the heavy humid atmosphere that surrounded the area we met. We were all sweating and you were hot and a bit stressed too.
I remember when I first saw your new mom and dad walk up to us, I was absolutely thrilled for you. You could tell what a loving home and family you would have. Your mom was tear-eyed and completely in love with you already.
Who would have imagined that some weeks ago we would receive the most heartbreaking news a breeder / parent could receive. News that no one wants to accept as reality.
We all fought hard for it to be a misdiagnosis, but in all honesty you were once again the strongest fighter - while always remaining the loving self you are.
We laid you to rest today, but this won’t be our last Goodbye. You are free of pain, or any suffering. I know you will be watching over us - especially your wonderful mom and dad.
How I wish all kittens experience the love and care you experienced. How I wish all kittens had such wonderful and loving home as you did. Your time here was short, but it was full of love - that I am sure about.
Run free sweet angel, until we all meet again. We are all so proud of you and we love you so so much, Nori.
Rest In Peace,
MetatronEyes Rhaegar / Nori
We would like to thank Nori’s owners for being the best loving home anyone could wish for for their kitten. Thank you for calling us that day, thank you for listening to us and for trying to work with us through all of this nightmare for weeks. Thank you for not choosing the easy way out and for not giving up on him. I want you to know how amazing and strong you are. Thank you for being by his side until the end.
We would also like to thank all our friends and even breeders we didn’t know, for being there for us and Nori, for trying to help, for giving advice and for just being good people with kind hearts.