Savannah Cat Luna's Remarkable Cure From Deadly FIP With EVO984

Updated on June 15, 2019
Deb Vesco Roberts profile image

Our Savannah kitten was diagnosed with fatal feline infectious peritonitis. This is Luna's story of survival thanks to developing research.

Meet Luna


Our First Pet: A Beautiful Savannah Cat

After careful research and education to learn about Savannah cats, and ultimately selecting a reputable breeder, Luna joined our family in March of 2017 at the age of 10 weeks. She was spunky, alert, playful, and in seemingly good health when I picked her up in Boston. Luna is not your usual cat either. She is exceedingly friendly, funny, quirky, overly loving, and exceeded all expectations of what we thought a Savannah cat would be. She quickly melded into our home and our hearts as our first pet.

Luna was due for her second feline distemper combination vaccine and a vet follow up examination soon after her arrival. On April 13th, 2017, she received that vaccine, which is the routine protocol for most cats. After receiving the vaccine, Luna immediately started refusing to eat, was sleeping constantly, and felt very hot to the touch. My husband and I had already thought that she looked a little bit distended around her midline abdomen and I made mention of this to the vet during this visit.

The only variance noted during her vet exam was a grade 3 heart murmur which was thought to be benign, and she was deemed healthy. The plan was to reassess the heart murmur in a few months and consider a referral to a veterinary cardiologist if it did not resolve. The distention was thought to be a "normal kitten belly" according to the vet.

Luna's distended abdomen
Luna's distended abdomen

Luna's Diagnosis and Journey to University of California Davis for a Life-Saving Drug Trial

The abdominal distention was worsening, so April 21st, we took Luna to the veterinary emergency clinic. I had already researched the causes of abdominal distention in kittens and had read about FIP, so this was in the back of my mind; however, it's not relatively common, especially with the Savannah cat breed. I thought at the worst, it would be a parasite.

The vet aspirated fluid from her abdomen during the examination and brought it with her to the exam room in a specimen tube. She was quite certain that given the assessment of the fluid, lack of appetite, lethargy, and fever of 105 degrees, Luna had the effusive form of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). She told us about the grim prognosis and we had a few days, to maybe two weeks, with her at best. She said we could come back in a few days for a consult with an internist to discuss any life-prolonging options and get a second opinion, or euthanize her if her condition further deteriorated over the weekend.

On April 24th, we saw the specialist for the second opinion. Luna had an echocardiogram, x-rays, ultrasound, and more blood tests, which served to confirm the diagnosis of FIP. This was the longest and most grueling three days of our lives, as we came to terms with the reality of losing our new baby while scrambling and researching to see what we could do to save her. FIP is 100% fatal, with no treatment or cure. How could this be happening? We had waited so long to get her (even having a terrible prior experience with another breeder three months earlier when trying to purchase a Savannah kitten).

There had to be a way to save her. As a nurse in a large teaching hospital, I am familiar with clinical trials and research. I thought to myself, "surely there is something out there in the works for FIP." I called and emailed every major veterinary college I could find online during that very long and grueling weekend of waiting to see the specialist.

Much to my surprise, I received a call back from Dr. Niels Pedersen's assistant, Mike, from UCD on April 23rd with the news of an up and coming new drug trial in the works but was pending institutional approval to get started. We discussed the details of Luna’s diagnosis and testing, and I was instructed to email them all of her records and results. I received another call on the 24th to further discuss the trial further and the possibility of flying with Luna to Sacramento, if they could get the approval pushed through.

If we made it there, Luna would be the first privately owned, naturally acquired FIP infected cat to start this new drug trial; and to make this even more amazing, she was at the perfect age to respond to the drug, which is an antiviral. Luna would be admitted to their clinic for 5-10 days of drug trial and monitoring.

Time was limited, as she was deteriorating fast and with a fever of 105 degrees. Dr. Pedersen instructed us to stop the current palliative medications which included feline omega interferon and prednisone and to get there as soon as we could.

We made it Sacramento on April 28th; seven days after her diagnosis. Dr. Niels Pedersen (professor and researcher, has worked on a cure for FIP since the 1960s), explained the protocol in detail, complete with diagrams of how the drug works to stop viral replication. We then went to the room where Luna would stay for the next 5-10 days, and that is when she received her first injection, as well as a thorough examination.

Luna's Time at UC Davis with Dr. Niels Pedersen

The First Day of the Trial
The First Day of the Trial

The Drug Known as EVO984, Went to Work Immediately

Luna responded extremely fast to the drug called "EVO984," even seeing improvement in her fever and behavior, after only one injection. Luna responded so well, we were able to come home on day six. She would receive another 11 plus weeks of daily injections to complete her treatment regimen. It was like bringing home a healthy, new kitten; a kitten free from fever, malaise, and abdominal distention.

I continued to administer the anti-viral injections daily at home for a total of 12 weeks. Dr. Pedersen guided us the entire time as to when to have blood work repeated by our local vet and the results reported to him, along with periodic weight checks so her dosage could be adjusted accordingly.

As a side note, this is the second drug trial since 2016 conducted by UCD for FIP. The first drug, GC376, was able to put 5 out of 20 FIP cats into successful remission, who to date, have not relapsed. Luna's drug, EVO984, has been even more successful, with approximately 25 cats achieving full remission and are most likely cured.

If you would like to read more about the drug trials at UCD and about FIP, here are some credible links with current articles. Also of note, both trials at UCD are closed. The research team is working tirelessly to get the results of these trials published, the drugs pushed through FDA approval, and ultimately, a company to market these drugs commercially to vets for prescribing to FIP affected cats. Sadly, they are still 2-3 years away from accomplishing this, but it will happen!

Luna's progress. Her abdominal distention rapidly resolved with the EVO984 protocol.
Luna's progress. Her abdominal distention rapidly resolved with the EVO984 protocol. | Source
Photo of Luna One Year Free From FIP
Photo of Luna One Year Free From FIP | Source

A Happy Ending for Luna and a Hopeful Future for Cats Diagnosed With FIP

Luna’s last injection of EVO984 was July 23rd, 2017. She is thriving and showing no signs of disease and her lab work remains perfectly normal today. She reached her adult weight and stature and plays aggressively, as a Savannah cat should. She loves to go camping and on our backpacking adventures and has hiked up to 13 miles with us, either walking on her harness or riding on the backpack. She loves being outside with us and is always an attention-grabber when we are out and about. It's not every day that you see a cat on a leash or at a campsite!

Luna has been FIP-free for over two years with no signs of disease. She is living a normal, healthy life and is enjoying her three buddies, Savannah cats, Titan, Calypso, and Phoebe whom we added in October 2017 and November 2018.

I was interviewed by Steve Dale, Animal Behaviorist, of Steve Dale's Pet World. You can listen to my radio interview about Luna's story with Steve (Flash Player required). Luna's entire journey from start to finish has been fully documented and current information on the drug trials at UC Davis is available on their website.

Luna Loves Camping and Backpacking With Her Humans

Luna at the Appalachian Trail
Luna at the Appalachian Trail
Backpacking in Tennessee
Backpacking in Tennessee
From left to right:  Titan, Calpyso, Luna
From left to right: Titan, Calpyso, Luna

Comments and feedback about your own experiences with FIP are most welcome. I value input from others and fully support you and your cat. Feel free to ask any questions that you may have about FIP and I will do my best to respond or direct you the best resources to help you.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • Is EVO984 available in Germany? I lost my tomcat last month to FIP, and my other cat is Corona positive.

    My condolences on the loss of your cat. FIP is so brutal. The medicine is not yet available anywhere sadly as it's still in the publication process of the trial and awaiting the US FDA approval and a drug company to take it on.

  • Was the effusion drained during the study discussed in this article? Was any medicine given to boost the immune system of Luna during or after the trial? Was there any special food given during the drug trial?

    No, we never drained the effusion; it will only come right back sadly. During the study, her fluid dissipated and was gone completely within five days. Luna was not given any other medications or immune boosters aside from the EVO984 trial drug. I fed Luna a mostly raw diet of turkey and chicken. I gave her canned food as well so that she could get the added nutrients. The food was grain free and as close to raw as I could get it. These are great questions! Thank you and if you have a cat with FIP, please visit my personal website (link is on my profile) for the most recent data from Dr. Pedersen on symptomatic treatment. I posted it last evening.

  • Is medicine for Feline Infectious Peritonitis available in Germany?

    This medicine is not commercially available anywhere yet. Just a small amount was made for the trials. The United States FDA has to approve it and it can take years. The process is about a year underway, so they are hoping no more than 2 more years. It is being made in China, but they are only guessing at the formulation and charging horrendous amounts of money and there are no dosing calculations as it is dependent on weight, age, and type of FIP the cat has. To follow Luna's entire journey, you can go to my blog at The second it's available commercially, I will be spreading the word there.

© 2018 Debra Roberts


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    • profile image

      Subhashish Roy 

      3 months ago

      Luna is such a cute inmate and am so happy that she is fine and doing well. God bless her.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I am so happy she is alive and well. Pets should never suffer, that is super important to me. She looks super happy being a part of your family!

    • profile image

      Charmaine Daisley 

      3 months ago

      I'm so happy that your beloved Luna is alive and well. She and her siblings look so adorable and absolutely spoiled. You and your husband seem like such loving parents to them. Thank God for that trial drug that cured Luna's FIP and for all our other feline friends it's going to save in the future, as well. All the best to Luna!

    • profile image

      The Sunny Side Lifestyle Co. 

      3 months ago

      As a cat owner I was not aware of FIP nor that cats could participate in clinical trials. So thankful that Luna is doing well and you were able to find her the care she needed.

    • profile image

      Tracy @ Cleland Clan 

      3 months ago

      Wow! Talk about the right place at the right time! Luna would not have survived without your persistence. This new drug sounds so promising--hopefully it will save many more pets.

    • profile image

      By Joanna K 

      3 months ago

      I’m not into cats. I grew up with dogs, so I don’t know much about taking care of cats. I have friends who consider their cats a member of their family. I’m certain that they’d appreciate your article. I appreciate the love you have for all your pets; that can make a lot of difference as well.

    • profile image

      Live Learn Better 

      3 months ago

      I'm hearing about FIP for the first time, but I'm delighted to know that a cure is now available for it.

      Thank you for sharing the journey.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I had no idea about FIP. And this cndition sounds so painful :( I am glad that the cat is fine now :) you know what I have always wanted this kind of a cat but I did not know that it is called Savannah Cat. :)

    • profile image

      Scott DeNicola 

      3 months ago

      What a great story and congratulations to Luna. As someone who works in the pharmaceutical industry, I'm used to hearing a lot of negative about drug companies. It's stories like this that keep me believing that we are doing the right thing. I have four dogs and we would do anything for them.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Hi Debra,

      I lost a rescue kitty from FIP when there was no information anywhere. That was approximately 23 years ago, so,I am very happy to hear there is a cure now.

      i also want to share that I had a beautiful black cat with copper eyes that someone told me that he was a Bombay. This cat also walked on a leash and liked to go through the drive thru bank with me!

      Anyway, thanks again for the good news (way overdue)!

    • profile image

      Despite Pain 

      3 months ago

      Oh Debra, what an amazing story. I am so glad you were able to find Dr Pedersen. Pets become part of the family, so it's natural to try to search for cures for them just as we would for human family. Luna is such a beautiful cat. I can imagine a few heads turning when seeing her on the backpack.

      This is such a hopeful story for any cat owners,

    • profile image

      Erica (The Prepping Wife) 

      3 months ago

      Luna is absolutely beautiful, and I'm so glad you were able to find even a trial to cure her and keep her in your family! That is fantastic. I'm sure she does capture a lot of attention when she goes hiking and camping with you. This was a wonderful story to read, Deb, with a very happy ending!

    • profile image

      Bitai Attila 

      5 months ago

      My cat passed away from FIP on 2019, February 16th at 2:14 PM. I'm glad to see that the terrible disease might go away.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      10 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Deb I read this great story when you first published it. This is really great. I remember not too many years ago when we told people that FIP was like a death sentence.

      It is good to hear about cures!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      11 months ago from UK

      Beautiful photos and an encouraging story to match them.


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