Feline Infectious Peritonitis Fip

Feline infectious peritonitis, also known as FIP, is a very dangerous viral disease that affects domestic cats and cats in the wild. The disease is often deadly and attacks many of the body’s different systems.

FIP occurs when a cat is infected with a virus called feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) and the virus mutates into feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). No one has yet discovered what causes the virus to mutate.

Spread of FIP

FIP is more common in households with multiple cats and in cats that frequently come into contact with other cats. Also, FIP is more common in cats with weaker immune systems. This includes young kittens and older cats. This also includes cats with other severe diseases, such as feline leukemia. Some breeds are also more likely to get FIP, including Persian cats.

The virus is spread through saliva and feces. Cats sharing litter boxes is the most common way the disease is spread, though it can also be transferred from cat to cat through:

  • contaminated bedding
  • shared food bowls
  • shared water bowls
  • shared toys
  • the placenta.

The virus can live on objects outside a host for three to seven weeks, though after three weeks the virus may be too weak to actually infect a cat. Also, a cat’s immune system is sometimes strong enough to fight off the disease even if he is exposed to it.

Some cats may have strong enough immune systems to keep the disease in check as well. Though their immune system may not be strong enough to kill the disease, the immune system’s antibodies will control the disease enough that symptoms and harm do not occur.

FIP Symptoms

FIP can occur in two different types:

  • dry
  • wet.

Dry FIP occurs in cats with relatively weak immune systems, while wet FIP occurs in cats with very weak immune systems. Symptoms can overlap for these two types of FIP and include:

  • anemia
  • breathing difficulties
  • changes in behavior
  • chronic weight loss
  • constipation
  • convulsions
  • diarrhea
  • disorientation
  • eye discoloration
  • fluid in the abdomen (making the cat appear as though he has a pot-belly)
  • lethargy and tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • ongoing fever
  • loss of balance
  • paralysis
  • paler than normal gums
  • tremors
  • urinary incontinence.

Cats with dry FIP can live up to one year after symptoms first show up, while cats with wet FIP usually die within a few months.

Treatment of FIP

FIP treatment varies depending on the particular symptoms involved and whether the cat has wet FIP or dry FIP. Cats with dry FIP can usually be treated more effectively than cats with wet FIP.

While there is no cure for FIP, treatment can often lessen a cat’s pain or uncomfortable symptoms and elongate his life.

FIP Prevention

FIP can be prevented in a number of ways. There is an FIP vaccine available, but it is not approved for use in cats younger than 16 weeks old. Therefore, protecting your cat before vaccination is necessary. Try to limit his exposure to other cats, especially those you suspect may have FIP.