I hate to relate this again, because I have explained how I came to stumble on
To answer your question directly, it was totally trial and error. I too have a
background in sciences and health care, and that played into my experience as
well. So here is my summary from one of my first emails to this group:
I would like to share what I think is very important information with others
who have cats diagnosed with Feline Leukemia.
I had a cat with leukemia as a kitten, and he lived to the age of 7 and died
from something else that I don’t believe was related to the leukemia. When the
vets told me that they could do nothing for him as a kitten dying with leukemia
(and he WAS dying - his red cells were dropping down to nothing and I had given
him TWO blood transfusions that weren't holding up his numbers to any great
degree) then as a last ditch effort, I tried some Winstrol I had in the
cupboard that a previous vet had given to me for another cat.
This medication turned him completely around. To monitor his condition, we were
performing weekly blood tests on him - CBC, liver function, etc. After being
put on the Winstrol, his red cells and white cell counts began to climb very
quickly and steadily. It was totally amazing and the vets couldn't believe the
lab results either. My beautiful little boy was out of the woods in about six
months. We were obsessively checking the pinkness of his ears, gums and pads to
check the status of his profound anemia, and to our unbelievable joy, he began
to get pink and his lab results just kept getting better. After about a year, I
called back the internal medicine veterinarian we had seen, and who had told us
there was no hope, and told him of our beautiful cat's recovery. To my surprise
- and a little bit of anger - he said that I had gone "old school" and that
Winstrol used to be used but then there were rumours of possible liver damage
associated with it, and vets stopped prescribing it. This REALLY annoyed me. My
cat was dying and no one thought that maybe, just maybe, some treatment - even
with a potential side effect - was better than no treatment??? In our
experience, on a few occasions the liver enzymes would indeed rise, but would
drop back down to normal fairly quickly after a short break from the Winstrol.
We monitored our beautiful Zander very closely during and after his initial
crisis, and if I thought that maybe he was looking pale again, or if the CBC
came back with a significantly dropping red cell count, we would put him back
on the Winstrol for a 4 to 6 week period, and it would fix him right up.
The Winstrol also really helped to increase his appetite so I could get him to
eat when he was so very sick.
I used it at a level of 1 mg two times a day when he was really sick, and when
he started to recover, I cut it back to 1 mg a day, or even 1/2 mg a day for a
maintenance dose. That was given along with ½ a tablet of prednisolone, twice a
day, and ½ a tablet of 100mg Doxycycline, twice a day.
I have looked after a very large number of strays over the years and I have a
science and medicine background in science and microbiology and laboratory
medicine, so I tested and analyzed the lab results we were getting, using this
knowledge. I have since used Winstrol in my cats in a number of other
situations where vets have told me there is no hope, and I have to say that it
has come through more often than not.
I therefore could not understand the reluctance of the veterinary - and medical
community for that matter - to consider Winstrol, especially in circumstances
where vets are telling pet owners that there are no other options and their
kitten or cat will die.
I have had to do a fair amount of internet research and spoken to a number of
veterinarians about this. I have personally concluded that due to the
association of Winstrol with athletic doping scandals, the scientific community
as a whole has decided to abandon what might indeed be a promising drug. This
saddens me but I simply can see no other explanation. I mean really - does it
make sense to hear from vets that the drug MAY cause liver disease, when your
animal is dying???? Wouldn't you expect to be given that option in those
circumstances, and to be permitted as the pet owner to understand the risks???
Personally, I think that the risk of permanent liver damage is not a
significant risk. The information I have been able to find - buried so very
deeply as to be almost unable to be found on the Internet - points to any
change in the liver enzymes as being transitory and not representing any
lasting liver damage. That was certainly our experience. Because Zander's
condition was so dire, even when his liver enzymes started to go up, I decided
to keep him on the Winstrol because I could see that his bone marrow had turned
back on again and he was producing red cells ( with his reticulocyte level
starting to go up from basically a zero level). He was eating and looking
better, so I grit my teeth and proceeded with the Winstrol. I suspect that many
vets might have abandoned ship at that point, and pulled the Winstrol before it
had had an opportunity to really have the desired effect, but my vet was at
least good enough to recognize that if this treatment didn't work, my cat was
out of luck, and she allowed me to continue on with the Winstrol since Zander
was doing better in so many other ways.
This was also our experience when I used Winstrol in another very elderly cat
who had a large and aggressive sarcoma in her sinus cavity, and again who was
not expected to live very long. She lived another 3 years after the diagnosis
(she was around 19 when she passed away), and I believe that the Winstrol
helped immensely in getting her to keep eating, and to keep the swelling under
control. With her, we definitely found that her liver enzymes spiked
dramatically with the use of the Winstrol, but settled down immediately with a
brief discontinuance of the drug.
Zander died at age 7 from cardiomyopathy - nothing to do with his liver. I
tortured myself with thoughts that maybe the Winstrol had caused the
cardiomyopathy, and for all I know, it did. However, again, I did a fair amount
of research and initially, I found references to a link between Winstrol and
cardiac damage, but the link was pretty tenuous at best, and seemed to be
suspected in athletes who had taken Winstrol at 100 X the recommended dosages
for years and years. My guilt has never gone away because of course, you never
know, but what I do know is that I would have lost him when he was only a year
old. If the Winstrol managed to give me 6 more very good years with my cat, who
played and was exceptionally affectionate and showed an extreme happiness with
his life, then I would have to say I have no hesitation in doing it again.
What I find truly bizarre is that given the death sentence that this disease
represents to cats, it should be very simple indeed to (a) have vets try the
Winstrol and see what their experience is with it (with the proviso that they
shouldn’t pull a cat off the Winstrol just because the liver enzymes start to
go up) and (b) why haven’t there been some decent clinical trials with this
stuff? The cats are zero given probability of surviving this disease. Even if
Winstrol only works sometimes, that is better than the odds we are given for
these cats at the moment.
Since I originally posted this two years ago, I have done more research, so I
now have even more information supporting the use of Winstrol and Doxycycline.
My original email didn’t mention that before I stumbled on the Winstrol, we had
tried using Interferon and LTCI and Immunoregulin. All these treatments were
tried for extended periods of time, while simultaneously testing blood work
weekly to search for any evidence at all of improvement. None of these
treatments budged Zander’s low red cell, haematocrit, and platelet counts.
From: Felvtalk [mailto:felvtalk-boun...@felineleukemia.org] On Behalf Of Molly
Sent: February-28-17 10:20 AM
Subject: [Felvtalk] Another question(s) about Zander's protocol
Thank you Amani, Bob, Sandy and Ardy for your input.
I was wondering how did Zander's protocol originate? Was is trial and error or
a known remedy? How did 'they' or you know what meds would work for FeLV cats
and how was the combination decided? Just wanted some background to give my vet
when I talk with her.
Thanks again everyone. You are all so supportive!
Yes, I do have a medical background. I'm a retired vet tech so I'm glad I have
some knowledge of the meds to be used for Mia.
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