Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP, is a viral disease in cats caused by a specific strain of feline coronavirus.
What Is FIP?
Many strains of feline coronavirus can be found in the gastrointestinal system called Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FeCV), which do not cause significant diseases.
Felines with FeCV generally do not show symptoms throughout the initial viral infection. However, they might periodically experience quick bouts of diarrhea and mild top respiratory symptoms from which they recover with no fuss. The immune system of a FeCV-infected cat usually produces antibodies to combat the virus within 7-10 days of infection.
In some cats infected with FeCV, one or more viral mutations can happen, resulting in contaminated white blood cells spreading throughout the feline's body. When this happens, the virus is described as the FIPV. An extreme inflammatory response to FIPV occurs typically around the abdomen, kidney, or brain tissues.
The progressive and often fatal disease results from the interaction between the cat's body's immune system and the infection. To our understanding, coronaviruses can not be passed from infected cats to people.
What Are the Risks of Developing FIP?
A cat that lugs FeCV is possibly at risk for developing FIP. The primary mode of transmission of FeCV happens when contaminated queens pass the infection to their kittens, usually when they are between five and eight weeks old.
Younger kittens pose a higher risk of developing FIP, with roughly 70% of infections seen in 1 1/2 years old and 50% occurring in kittens less than seven months old.
Cats housed in high-density facilities like shelters seem more prone to develop FIP, as are male cats, purebred cats, and senior felines, for reasons still unclear to experts.
Early Symptoms of FIP
Initially, cats exposed to FeCV generally show no apparent symptoms. Some cats may show upper respiratory problems signs like watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Others experience moderate gastrointestinal indications such as looseness of the bowels.
Most of the time, these mild signs self-resolve, and only a tiny percentage of cats exposed to FeCV develop FIP.
There are two primary forms of FIP, the "dry" and "wet" forms. Regardless of which development they ultimately advance to, cats infected with FIPV normally develop nonspecific signs of illness, such as anxiety, weight loss, and fever.
- The dry or non-effusive form may show nonspecific symptoms noted above, as well as neurologic symptoms like seizures and ataxia (unusual or unskillful activities). Non-effusive forms also develop more slowly than wet forms.
- The wet or gushing form of FIP typically advances more rapidly. It includes the nonspecific indicators with the fluid buildup in the body's cavities, like the abdominal area and the thorax (breast cavity). If the liquid accumulates too much, it might be difficult for a cat to breathe. Affected felines may have a pot-bellied look because of fluid buildup in the abdomen.
A wet form can develop into a dry form and vice-versa.
How Can I Check If My Cat Has FIP?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut examination to diagnose FIP at the moment. While tests can examine antibody levels to coronavirus, we cannot definitively tie it to FeCV or FIPV.
Kittens with high fever but are not responsive to antibiotics and have high coronavirus titers are commonly presumably identified with FIP. This is especially true if characteristic yellow-tinged fluid with high amounts of protein and white blood cell concentrations starts accumulating in body cavities.
Other offered tests can, in theory, determine the infection itself. Among these tests, the immunoperoxidase test can identify viral proteins in virus-infected leukocytes in tissue; however, a biopsy of affected tissue is needed for analysis.
Can FIP Be Treated?
FIP was considered to be a non-treatable illness until recently. While there are still some uncharted maps regarding the effectivity of recently-identified antiviral drugs to treat FIP, researchers suggest that a drug currently described as GS-441524 may eventually prove to be an efficient treatment choice for the wet form of FIP. However, the drug is currently not FDA-approved.
How Can I Protect My Pet from FIP?
- The only way to definitively avoid FIP in cats is to stop them from getting infected with FeCV, and this is not easy. This is especially true of cats housed in a high-density places like sanctuaries and catteries.
- It is important to remember that while FeCV is rather transmittable (the saliva and feces of infected cats infect other cats mainly through the mouth), FIPV is not believed to be. Instead, FIP develops in cats after being infected with FCV, and the virus goes through mutations to become FIPV.
- Keeping cats as healthy as possible, including stopping infection by other viruses such as FeLV and calicivirus by inoculation, lowers the chance of your cat developing FIP.
- Litter boxes must be kept clean and placed in areas far from food and water supplies. Some recommend that recently embraced cats, and those thought to be contaminated with FeCV, should be divided from other cats. However, the efficiency of this monitoring method is debatable.
Certain Breeds Are More Susceptible to FIP
Hereditary variables are thought to contribute to the development of FIP. Studies find that some cat breeds like Abyssinian, Bengal, Birman, Himalayan, Ragdoll, and Devon Rex have a higher chance of developing FIP. The virus is also more common in cats that reside in multi-cat houses, shelters, or catteries. Felines that are stressed because of re-homing, have recently had surgery, or have concurrent infections might also be more prone to developing FIP.