FIP is popularly referred to as young cat disease. This is because it is small kittens, which do not have developed immunity, that most often get this virus. Unfortunately, FIP in cats is a fatal disease. Learn more about the disease and the virus, and how to protect your cats from infection in this article.
FIP is the official name of a disease in cats caused by FCoV, which is a coronavirus so popular due to the epidemic in China, but feline. Currently, this virus is divided into separate viruses: the less pathogenic FECV (Feline Enterale Coronavirus) and the highly pathogenic FIPV (Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus).
FCoV occurs in cats worldwide, but only about 5-10% of infected cats will develop FIP disease. Of the entire cat population in the world, 1-2% of cats retain FIP. Free-living cats participating in fights with other cats are in the special risk group. About 10% of free-living cats that have been examined by the vet are infected. In those in shelters where they occur in large and tight clusters with completely random individuals, the virus occurs in up to 90% of cats. The incubation period for viruses is approximately 4 months. Some cats can live with the virus for many years without showing any signs of the disease.
Feline coronovirus – how does a cat get infected?
FIP is contracted when a cat comes into contact with an infected cat, usually in combat, when it is scratched, or when it comes into contact with its saliva or faeces. Therefore, if our cat is healthy and we want to keep it in this condition, it should not see other cats, unless we know them well and know that they have a negative FCoV test result.
Cat FIP - how to get sick
Young cats that have not acquired immunity are particularly vulnerable to FIP. However, other cats are also at risk. Especially those with impaired immunity, often related to the cat’s current pregnancy, stress, in cats with leukemia or other diseases. After infection, the blood stream carries the virus to the liver, spleen, lymph nodes grow very quickly and you can easily find out if the cat is sick.
Types of FIP disease in cats
There are two types of clinical symptoms. FIP takes one of two forms. The dry, non-porous form form is the appearance of granulomas on the cat’s organs. The wet wet form is manifested by the appearance of a yellow and sticky fluid in the abdominal cavity. You can often see this exudate with the naked eye because the silhouette of the cat takes an unnatural shape as shown in the photo below.
Cat with visible ascites, photo taken 2 days before euthanasia. Photo: Phaeton68. License: CC BY-SA 3.0 . [/ Caption]
Symptoms of FIP in a cat
Depending on the type, we may encounter different symptoms.
In the wet form of a cat suffering from FIP, we can quickly observe the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, the so-called ascites. It happens quite quickly and the vast majority of the disease has this form (up to 70%). Ascites causes breathing problems in a kitten. Other symptoms include: decreased appetite, which leads to weight loss, the body temperature of the kitten increases, there may also be accelerated breathing, yellowing of the mucous membranes, jaundice and diarrhea, as we wrote in the introduction. Males also have enlargement of the scrotum.
With high immunity of kittens, in a much smaller number of cases it will come to a dry form. Here, too, the appetite will be reduced, followed by the kitten’s weight, fever and jaundice. However, fluid does not build up in the abdomen. The kitten will not have such breathing problems as with the wet form of the disease. However, when palpating the abdomen, you can feel enlarged lymph nodes, you can find irregularities in the internal organs, in particular the kidneys and liver. The color of a cat’s eye may also change when the iris becomes inflamed. It may happen that the eye has blood in it or the retina may detach. The nervous system also manifests itself in about 10% of sick kittens, manifested by seizures, tremors, fever, changes in behavior and mood, the occurrence of nystagmus and even loss of vision.
The average cat’s survival time from being diagnosed with FIP is 9 days. 95% of sick cats die within a year. With an unequivocal diagnosis, euthanasia must be seriously considered if you can see that the kitten is closer to the end of her days and we can alleviate her suffering. Infectious peritonitis in cats is a very serious disease. If your cat has any of the signs outlined in this article you should visit your vet.