•  Litter types – cats are very sensitive to smell so avoid all fragrant litter.  Your cat may avoid the litterbox if the litter contains perfumes or if they don’t like the smell or texture.  If you can, avoid clay litter too as the dust can cause breathing issues for cats.  Young cats may also consume it and get a stomach blockage.
  • Cleanliness – cats can smell up to 4 miles away!  A used cat box can be compared to an outhouse for humans.  Please clean often – up to multiple times a day.
  • Misunderstandings about what is a litterbox – cats may confuse dirty laundry, plastic, discarded papers, and planters for areas that should be used as litterboxes.  This is not misbehavior; they often can’t tell the difference.  For instance, if you use plastic litterbox liners, the cat may think any plastic bag is an appropriate litterbox.  Also, some litter brands use the same fragrance as common household items, like laundry detergent.  This could cause your cat to think your freshly washed laundry is an appropriate litter box.

If your cat stops using the litterbox, there are many things you can try including adding another litterbox, trying different litter types, or using cat attract litter to lure them back to the appropriate location.

  • Types of poop – small pebbles or straining to poop means your cat is constipated.  Runny or mushy poop could be a sign of intestinal parasites.  Both of these can be normal in healthy cats occasionally, but if it persists beyond a few days please look into ways to get them help.  Please see the Stool Chart on our Resources page for more information on stool types and how to correct them.


  • Scratching – cats need to be able to stretch their entire body.  Some cats enjoy scratching vertically and some enjoy scratching horizontally.  Pay attention to this to know what type of scratching posts you need.  Cats must scratch in order to peel off outer layers of their nails to stay healthy.  A stressed cat will scratch everywhere as their paws have scent glands that tell other animals it’s their territory.  
  • Biting – your cat may want to play with you like he does other cats and may not understand he is playing too rough.  Please avoid using your hands and feet to play with your cat.  You can use a stuffed animal, laser, or toy on a wand to redirect your cat to a more appropriate target away from your body.
  • Hiding – never reach under things for a cat that is scared unless they are in danger.  Try to use food or toys to lure the cat out. Pheromone plug ins like Calm Zone may help your cat feel safer.  There are many other products to assist in calming your cat such as catnip.  
  • Minor aggressions like hissing or smacking at other animals and people are your cat’s way to show displeasure.  They are normal behaviors.  Please respect your cat’s wishes by removing yourself from their space temporarily.  If it’s another animal, usually they can work this out.  If you become stressed, they will become more stressed, and it may escalate.  Try to redirect them with play or distract them from the other animal.

Meet Goose. Goose is a year old cuddly, orange tabby cat. He is technically a sanctuary cat because he has immune system issues. He was left outside as a kitten (not sure if he was born outside or just left outside; and we are not sure how long he lived outside for) and he picked up some bacteria that we can’t get rid of.  We took him in after his first adopter returned him to the rescue. Since October of 2021, Goose has had 9 rounds of antibiotics and has had some pretty serious symptoms. Every few weeks he suffers with lethargy, loss of appetite, and thick/sticky mucus that can seal his nostrils and his eyes. He loses a lot of weight and just wants to be carried everywhere. He has seen four vets and so far, no one has been able to cure him of the bacteria.

When Goose is healthy, he is energetic, playful, sweet, outgoing, and ALWAYS hungry. He is a therapy cat in training and likes going with me for coffee dates. He loves to go for car rides, meet new people and animals, and find new places to explore. When he is healthy, Goose has so much energy I can barely keep up with him. He bites my feet for attention, scratches up the couch, plays (loudly) with his adopted brother Mango ALL. NIGHT. LONG, and is intensely curious. He likes to follow me around the entire house and be an active participant in absolutely everything. He wants to see what is on the hot stove, what is in the sink, he likes to “help” me clean the counters. Some days it feels like he has enough energy for two cats. I just want to find a way to keep him that healthy. I see other cats from Instagram walking through a field of flowers or going to the beach and I think “how would Goose like this”? But he has health issues.

What I have been able to do is lessen his symptoms with some homemade remedies. I make him an immune booster that is made of:

· Lemon juice/ chicken bone broth

· L-lysine

· L-lysine with NAC

· Sodium Ascorbate vitamin C powder

· Vitamins

· Probiotics

· Milk thistle extract (liver and kidney cleanser)

· Krill Oil (which seems to help with his energy level and makes his fur look healthier)

· Pine Bark Extract (which seems to help with the amount of mucus)

I make this every week and now vary his dosage depending on his symptoms but have given from 2-5ccs once or twice per day. Too much makes him very lethargic but clears him up.  If there are any veterinarians out there who have other suggestions, I am happy to take them. I have run this list of items past two vets, and they have approved. The Krill oil and Pine Bark I added one at a time to test Goose’s response. I’m hoping this blog will help anyone else who has a cat with immune disorders find some new ideas and that someone else will have suggestions for me. This is an on-going battle for my cat’s health, and he is starting to perk up again as of this week. Goose is only a year old. I want him to have a full and healthy life but realistically if I can help him get past this year, I will be grateful. 


In November 2021 we rescued Goose. He was an exuberant young kitten who was returned to the rescue by his first adopter. He was sick when we took him in, and we started on his first round of antibiotics. Over the next 6 months he went through 9 rounds of increasingly stronger antibiotics for increasingly longer periods of time.  Vets had different opinions on what was causing his issues (mostly upper respiratory). The medications would work for a week or two tops then he reverted back. We decided to go the holistic route after that and he did pretty well for a while. There is more background in our blog “Cat immune issues – guest blogger”.

We recently noticed that Goose was losing weight and was very lethargic all the time. We added more to his daily vitamin routine but it wasn’t working and we were force feeding him several times a day. It was time to get bloodwork done and were shocked by how many of his indicators were too high or too low – this was more than an upper respiratory infection. The vet was pretty sure he had FIP, which was also causing liver and kidney issues, on top of his upper respiratory issues. We thought this was a death sentence and were trying to prepare ourselves for the worst.

We learned FIP is a mutation of the feline corona virus and affects 10% of cats. There are 4 types of FIP: 

*neuro: can cause seizures, tremors, affects the muscles and can cause a cat to lose the ability to walk

*ocular: causes blindness

*wet: causes mucus build up in chest, lungs, and abdomen. Cats can drown within 4-6 weeks

*dry: disease attacks organs 

Goose has dry FIP. 

We had heard about a new FIP treatment, not yet FDA approved but used in Europe, but didn’t want to put him through more suffering just because we didn’t want to let him go. Then we decided to just start asking questions. Someone who had adopted from our rescue had recently started the treatment that seemed to be going well, and a few people told us about the Facebook group FIP Warriors, so we started there and got answers to many of our questions. Then we found out about another local rescue who had good success with the treatments. We heard the treatments had an 80% success rate and that’s when we decided to give it a try. Goose isn’t even 2 years old yet and when he feels well he is everyone’s friend. He’s a great therapy cat who we feel has a greater purpose and we wanted to give him this chance.

Day 5 of our 84-day treatment. He is already more bright eyed, less lethargic, and eating on his own. Not gonna lie, he doesn’t like the shots. We are told they feel like acid in his body and they can cause sores, which luckily he hasn’t gotten yet.  The person helping us does a fluid bubble first and injects the meds into the bubble – that seems to help. He meows pitifully for about 30 minutes after the shots but then does better. We were told it’s better to start with shots to kickstart the treatments and then switch to pills. We plan for today to be the last shot. 

There are different brands of FIP medication. Some people swear by one over the others, some people say you may need to switch between brands if you aren’t seeing good results. None of them are inexpensive so that is a consideration as well. Also, if the disease caused other issues, those issues may still need to be treated so your cat may still need be monitored by a vet during the process (once a month bloodwork has been recommended). We have also heard that they can continue to be contagious even after they are considered cured but there are mixed responses on that as well. We have other cats but they have already been exposed so we aren’t going to quarantine him as one vet recommended. If we get more cats in the future, there are plenty who are FIP positive who need homes and we will consider that moving forward if needed.

Update day 12: Goose switched to pills day 6 as planned. We have seen small improvements daily but today has been the best! He woke us up playing with toys and with our other cats – he even bounded up the 7-foot cat tree. He’s seeking attention and interacting again. He isn’t gaining weight, but we’ve stopped force feeding him and he’s holding steady. He still occasionally has upper respiratory issues but it’s less often. We are anxious to get his next bloodwork results and see if the numbers confirm what we are seeing.

Update day 18:  We got Goose’s results back and every indicator was in the normal range (although some just barely).  Even the vet was amazed and excited by these results!   We are preparing some charts showing the result comparisons that we will share if anyone asks.  We have continued to give him our homemade immune booster.  Someone from a group for this medication said we aren’t supposed to, but after seeing his improvement we will continue to give it to him.  Someone else we spoke to said we should expect slight setbacks and some bad days.  He does still have mucous and sneezing but otherwise, things are going great.

So, there’s still a lot to learn about this but we recommend you ask questions to see if this may be right for your cat. We will continue to update our progress and are happy to answer questions. You can contact us through Act 2 Rescue.

Update day 29:  Goose has had a bad few days – he’s been very sneezy and mucousy, more lethargic.  We also had a foster kitten get sick with a URI so they are possibly connected.  We are considering starting shots again for a few days if he doesn’t start improving again soon.  We were warned that he may have some setbacks so it could just be that.

Update day 45:  Goose was looking pretty bad again, so we did end up going back to shots for 5 days and that did the trick – pulled him out of the decline he was on.  Since then, he seems to be holding steady with just occasional runny nose and sneezing.  He’s a normal weight and his fur is soft and silky again.  We had more bloodwork done last week and he’s doing great except for his kidney function.  We’re adding a new supplement to his daily mix to try to boost his kidneys and the vet has recommended low protein food for a while, so we’re waiting on that prescription.  

Update day 64:  Wow, day 64 – we’re hopefully close to the finish line with this.  Someone else we know had to go an extra two weeks with medication but recently got a clean bill of health so we are hopeful.  Goose had another down turn and we started on a few days of shots plus some antibiotics – we think he has some kind of secondary bacterial infection.  We had to adjust dosages a little as he was throwing up but now seems to be back on track and feeling better again.  

This list is based on our experiences. Please do your own research as well. We are not paid to promote any of these vets and experiences may vary. 


Corona: Centennial Animal Hospital (average cost, assists A2R)

Santa Ana:  Veterinary Hospital | Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital | Santa Ana  (Dr. Weber assists us and is very down to earth. He does take his time so wait times may be longer. 

Veterinarians with low ratings, typically higher than average pricing, or allegedly very negative experiences by our clients that you may want to avoid: Arlington Animal Hospital, VCA clinics