Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
FIP is a serious viral disease of cats. It can be difficult to diagnose, but once the signs appear, FIP is almost always fatal. Death can occur within weeks to months.
What is FIP
FIP is a disease of cats caused by certain strains of a virus called the feline coronavirus. White blood cells become infected with the virus, and these cells then transport the virus throughout the cat’s body. An intense inflammatory reaction occurs around the vessels in the tissues where these infected cells locate, often in the abdomen, kidney, or brain. It is this interaction between the body’s own immune system and the virus that is responsible for the disease. Once a cat develops clinical FIP involving one or more systems of the cat’s body, the disease is progressive and is almost always fatal.
Is my cat at risk?
Cats with weak immune systems are most likely to develop the disease, including kittens and cats already infected with feline leukemia virus and geriatric cats. Most cats that develop FIP are under two years of age, but cats of any age may develop the disease. FIP is highly contagious. Feline coronavirus can be found in large quantities in the saliva and feces of cats during the acute infection. The most common transmission of feline coronavirus occurs when infected female cats pass along the virus to their kittens, usually when the kittens are between five and eight weeks old.
What are the symptoms?
Some cats may show mild upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal discharge. Other cat’s may experience a mild intestinal disease and show symptoms such as diarrhea. Once symptoms develop, often there is increasing severity over the course of several weeks, ending in death. Generally these cats first develop nonspecific symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, rough hair coat, and fever.
If you have any questions regarding FIP or any other questions regarding your cat, please call us at 505-869-2627.