About Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is not a well understood disease. It’s believed Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FECV) – (Felin Coronavirus FeCoV) mutates within the cat into Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus.
FECV infection – especially in multi-cat environments – is common but most infected cats don’t develop FIP. FIP shows a strong preference for immune weakened cats – kittens under 2 years, cats 12 years and older and cats who are immune compromised.
Technically speaking, Peritonitis is an infection of the abdomen – the peritoneal cavity. FIP actually can affect all body systems, tho it’s often recognized first (and most visibly) as fluid accumulation in the abdomen.
There are two forms of FIP:1. Wet – “effusive” – results from fluid in the chest and abdomen. If in the chest, the cat will have difficulty breathing. If in the abdomen, the cat will develop a “pot belly”.
2. Dry effects the same organs at wet, but without fluid accumulation. Dry is the more common form.
It takes about two weeks for the FIP virus to become widespread. Cats generally become symptomatic within two months following and often don’t live a year.
Symptoms include:- Fever- Vomiting- Diarrhea- Loss of appetite and weight loss- Anemia- Conjunctivitis- Jaundiced- Weakness- Seizures- Kidney failure- Liver failure
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is difficult. There are a number of different test but no single test gives a definitive result. Vets will often use a combination of tests as well as clinical signs and symptoms.
There is no cure for FIP. Treatment is for supportive care and discomfort.
The only sure prevention is lack of contact with infected cats. Since infection alone is no guarantee FIP will develop, keeping your cats immune system strong is the best defense. Good nutrition and limited stress are immune supportive. This is especially true for kittens and seniors.
There is a vaccine for FIP but it’s not necessarily beneficial.
A study done at Cornell University showed the vaccine could in fact enhance the disease. There have also been reports of severe reactions to the vaccine. Also, the vaccine does not work with previously infected cats. Since corona virus infection is fairly common, many cats are already infected.
It’s always important to weight the risks and rewards for your individual situation.