Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Part 3 of a 3 Part Series on Feline Viruses

Snaps, a long-term TCR foster.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a complex viral disease that is caused by exposure to certain strains of the coronovirus.  Coronavirus is extremely common in cats, and most owners are not even aware their cat has been exposed.  Normally there are little to no symptoms during the infection and the body is able to fight it off.  In a small percentage of cases, the coronavirus mutates, and FIP occurs weeks, months or even years later.

The symptoms of FIP are nonspecific and can develop suddenly.  Cats will usually display loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, fever, rough coat and sometimes a swollen abdomen as the body begins to fill with fluid.  These symptoms do not respond to antibiotics and increase in severity over the course of several days to weeks.  FIP is a fatal disease and other than supportive therapy, there is no treatment for it.

At this time there is no definitive test for FIP.  There are tests that can help vets by detecting the presence of coronavirus antibodies in a cat, but given that up to 90% of cats have had exposure to this virus, a positive result is not unusual.  The only way FIP can be
accurately tested is through a post mortem examination of tissue.

It is important to remember that FIP in itself is not contagious and exposure to a cat with FIP does not mean that your cat will develop this disease.  The best ways to prevent this disease is by keeping your cats indoors, feeding a high quality diet and providing regular
veterinary care.

Additional FIP resources:

Medical Overview: Cornell Feline Health Center

Sarsenstone Cattery: A Word About FIP

FIP – Is your cat at Risk?: Winn Feline Foundation

Heatlh Communities: Risk Factors, Causes of FIP

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