Know the Facts
Protecting Cats from FIP
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease that is caused by strains of the feline coronavirus. While most strains of coronavirus don’t cause disease, in a small percentage of cats the infection progresses into clinical FIP, referred to as feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). White blood cells become infected and inflamed with the virus, often in the kidneys, abdomen or brain, and the interaction between the cat’s immune system and the virus is what causes the disease.
Kittens and cats under age three are most at risk for infection as well as cats with weakened immune systems, geriatric cats, and those in homes with multiple cats. The virus may spread through feces and can be active for three to seven weeks, so surfaces where the virus may linger must be disinfected.
There are two forms of FIP. The “dry” form causes chronic weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. In addition, 10 to 25 percent of affected cats will have neurological problems such as paralysis, disorientation, loss of balance, tremors, convulsions, behavior changes, and urinary incontinence. Cats with the dry form can live up to one year.
Many of the symptoms seen in the dry form are often seen in the “wet” form of FIP but anemia is also typically present. In the wet form, the disease progresses quickly. The cat may appear pot-bellied from fluid accumulation in the abdomen and may also have fluid in the chest. Cats with the wet form usually die within two months.
To diagnose FIP, we can x-ray the abdomen and chest look to for fluid buildup and test the blood, liver, kidney, pancreas and sugar levels. If the diagnosis is positive, we can provide supportive and comfort care; however, survival is rare.
To prevent FIP, all cats in your home must follow our vaccine protocol. Be sure to ask us if your kitty is protected!
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