Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a progressive and ultimately fatal disease of cats caused by a mutated coronavirus.

Many cats are infected with a relatively benign form of the coronavirus but only in certain cats will the virus mutate to become pathologic (FIP). So this means that the corona virus in each individual cat can mutate (or not) into the FIP virus. Therefore, FIP is not horizontally transmitted (cat to cat).

Previously, it was suggested that cats could transmit the disease to other cats by saliva, urine, and feces. It was also suggested that multi-cat households may increase the risk of disease. Recently, research has suggested that risk of virus transmission from an infected cat to other cats in the household very unlikely. Cats living with an FIP cat will be no more likely to have this mutation in the future than they otherwise would have been not being exposed to the FIP cat.

Contact with feces is a possible route of infection. However, once the virus is mutated, pathogenic coronavirus invades and is no longer shed from the gut.

Factors that increase the risk of infection include young age and concurrent infection with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

The two forms of lethal FIP are effusive (wet) FIP, non-effusive (dry) FIP and combinations of both.

Although the virus can survive for a number of weeks in the environment, it is inactivated by most household detergents and disinfectants.

What to Watch For

Symptoms of FIP are non-specific but may include any of the following:

Diagnosis of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

There are no specific tests to diagnose FIP. Your veterinarian will take a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination to facilitate diagnosis. Most cats presented for veterinary attention already are sick and several other diseases produce similar symptoms. Consequently, your veterinarian likely will recommend certain tests to rule out diseases other than FIP. These tests may include the following:

Treatment of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

There is no definitive treatment or cure for FIP, and treatment is limited to supportive and symptomatic care. Depending on the severity of your cat’s illness, treatment may vary from outpatient care to hospitalization and intensive fluid and drug treatments. Treatment may involve one or more of the following:

Home Care and Prevention

At home administer as directed any medication prescribed by your veterinarian and encourage your pet to eat and drink.

A vaccine is available to help reduce the risk of contracting FIP. However, recently the vaccine has fallen out of favor and is not commonly used or recommended. A recent study suggested that the vaccine has not proven to be especially effective.

Keep food away from litter boxes to prevent fecal contamination and potential coronavirus transmission and clean litter boxes regularly to avoid transmission of coronavirus shed in feces.