What is Feline Infectious Peritonitis? – Cat FIP (February 2019)

Happy Friday, everybody!

We love our cats and never think about the possibility of something terrible happening.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be informed on what could go wrong.

Please remember that the following information does not replace going to your vet, getting a proper diagnoses, treatment, etc.

This article is for informative purposes only.

What is Feline Infectious Peritonitis?

Feline infectious peritonitis, also known as FIP, occurs on a global scale in both domestic and wild cats.

It’s a viral disease caused by Coronavirus, which attacks the cells of a cat’s intestinal walls.

There are actually a couple of illnesses and diseases caused by Coronaviruses, some of which are pretty identical to FIP.

The majority of strains don’t actually cause diseases, but quite a few of them, unfortunately, do.

Your vet is the only way to know for sure if your cat is dealing with FIP when symptoms arise.

Diagnosing and Treating Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Because there are a few illnesses and diseases that are all grouped in similarities when it comes to the Coronavirus, diagnosing FIP can be tricky – especially if you’re not a vet.

Unfortunately, at this time of writing, there is no definite test that is able to distinguish between fatal FIP Coronavirus and the less harmful one that tends to be mild.

Tests done to try and get a proper diagnoses, more often than not, turn out to be inconclusive. These tests typically show that a cat may be exposed to a Coronavirus and are now carrying it with them.

Even negative tests can come out wrong, so you can see why this is a very problematic, and worrying, virus.

However, this doesn’t mean you won’t get answers. The “wet” form of the disease renders the best results, while the “dry” form can constantly be inconclusively tested.

Either way, a visit to the vet is necessary if you suspect your cat is dealing with FIP.

Unfortunately, up to 95% of cats who go through wet FIP won’t have much time. Within the first signs and onset of the disease in the wet form, a cat may have as little as 2 months left.

While there is an intranasal vaccine for the prevention of FIP, it’s a pretty controversial one. Some say it works, others say it offers little to no benefit in the prevention of this particular disease.

The Symptoms of Feline Infectious Peritonitis

As I mentioned above, there are different forms that FIP will manifest in – wet and dry.

The symptoms for both, however, are essentially the same.

Listed below are the symptoms of feline infectious peritonitis:

  • Jaundiced Liver
  • Excessive Drinking/Urination
  • Anorexia/Weight Loss
  • Lethargic Behavior 
  • Fever That Can’t Be Broken by Antibiotics
  • Accumulation of Fluid in the Chest Cavity, Abdominal Cavity, or Both
  • Labored Breathing

These symptoms are common with a lot of different other health problems and should always be followed up by seeing a vet.

The Difference Between Wet and Dry FIP

Wet FIP is most notable for the accumulation of fluid within a cat’s chest cavity, abdominal cavity, sometimes both, as well as labored breathing.

With the wet form and abdominal fluid accumulation will go through abdominal pain and distension.

The dry form of FIP, however, will show small, usually minor, accumulations of granulomas, which as inflammatory cells, in multiple organs.

Unfortunately, clinical signs of dry FIP depend on the organ it’s affecting.

For example, jaundice is seen in affected livers while excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, and vomiting are seen in affected kidneys.

Preventing Feline Infectious Peritonitis

The best way to prevent a cat from coming down with FIP, is to ensure they live in a healthy environment that minimizes their exposure to infections.

Keep litter boxes clean, disinfect them, and quarantine any new cats you bring into your home, especially ferals, for a couple of days.

Keep your kitties current on their vaccinations, provide healthy food, and don’t have an overcrowded home.


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