Feline infectious peritonitis, often known as FIP, is a viral disease that affects cats and can be found in every region of the world. The disease is difficult to detect, but there have been significant breakthroughs in treating what was formerly a fatal condition in the past several years.
As a cat owner, you have to be supportive of your cat whenever they get exposed to FIP. Be at their side and coordinate with your veterinarian. While the disease is serious enough to be fatal, the chances of your cat getting it are significantly low as it’s a virus that can affect 1 out of 100 cats.
However, it doesn’t hurt to be forewarned and briefed on what FIP is and how impactful it can be to the cat community. The hope is that every cat owner who has an infected cat can say that my cat survived FIP. While there is no guarantee against the FIP cat disease, it’s best to know all information we can to prepare ourselves.
Here are 8 things you need to know about feline infectious peritonitis also known as the cat’s coronavirus.
Table of Contents
- 1. Signs & Symptoms
- 2. How long can a cat live with FIP
- 3. Is FIP painful for cats
- 4. How did my indoor cat develop FIP
- 5. Is FIP contagious to other cats
- 6. How can I prevent my cat from getting FIP
- 7. How to make a cat with FIP comfortable
- 8. How do you tell when a cat with FIP should be euthanized?
1. Signs & Symptoms
The clinical symptoms of cat FIP can vary widely depending on which body regions are affected and how the immune system responds to the infection. Early signs of FIP are typically somewhat nebulous and can include a fluctuating fever (high temperature), tiredness, and a diminished appetite.
In most cases, the emergence of further symptoms occurs after many days or weeks (or occasionally even many months).
Traditionally, feline infectious peritonitis has been separated into “wet (effusive)” and “dry” types.
However, cats can have both forms at various periods or a combination of both presentations. The clinical indicators of FIP are not always clear, and they are not unique to FIP; instead, they are symptoms that can also be found in other diseases. This is one of the reasons why diagnosing FIP can be difficult.
Consequently, confirming a diagnosis is quite challenging, although, in general, locating the expected sort of effusion or inflammation and the virus in the same places might be helpful.
Immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry (which involves staining the virus so that it can be identified), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are all methods that can be used to investigate the possibility that the virus is present (testing for the virus’s genetic material).
Fluid samples, needle samples, biopsies, and other types of samples can all be examined using these procedures. Remember that it is not enough to find the virus, as cats without FIP may have coronavirus. We must put together the puzzle of clinical signs, imaging findings, fluid and needle samples, and virus detection tests.
Remember that it is not enough to find the virus, as cats without FIP may have coronavirus.
2. How long can a cat live with FIP
Wet FIP almost always results in death within the first five weeks after diagnosis, with very few exceptions. The dry form is just as lethal, although infected cats have a chance of living for a few months longer.
As discussed, there are two distinct kinds of disease, either of which can shorten or lengthen the lifespan of a patient.
The most frequent type of the disease, known as “wet FIP,” will give your cat more than a month to survive. This disorder occurs when blood vessels leak, fluid leaks out of the blood, and the cat’s abdomen expands. It’s also possible that this will happen in the chest, preventing the cat from breathing normally.
Dry FIP, a less prevalent type of disease, is characterized by the absence of an accumulation of fluid but the development of thick scar tissue on the cat’s internal organs.
Although the dry form of cat FIP gives your cat a chance to live for several more months, it is just as fatal as the wet form.
3. Is FIP painful for cats
In most cases, the early symptoms of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in cats indicate that the cat is not feeling well. These symptoms include extreme weariness, loss of appetite and weight loss, and fever.
Reports indicate that cats suffering from FIP are not experiencing any pain. On the other hand, it seems they are experiencing symptoms quite similar to those we encounter when we have the flu, specifically exhaustion and lethargy.
It is interesting to note that FIP seems to be able to induce blindness in cats. In fact, changes related to the eyes may be the only symptoms observed in particular infected cats, even though various symptoms are present for most animals.
Cats, much like people, can experience a significant deal of unhappiness when they are continuously exhausted. Cats exhibiting symptoms of FIP may display signs of stress and discomfort, although this condition is not considered painful in and of itself.
4. How did my indoor cat develop FIP
If your indoor cat has FIP, this may be due to the presence of other cats in your household.
Another infected cat in your neighborhood may have passed it on to your cat during unsupervised visits.
Your cat could also develop FIP from playing with the toys of other cats. Being around other animals that carry the virus may be another cause.
Your cat may also be exposed to the virus when they go outside without you knowing, which is something cats are known to do. These are all the possibilities you need to consider.
Even if your cat never leaves the house, there’s still some risk of your cat being exposed to the feline coronavirus and could get sick from it.
Fortunately, only a small percentage of infected cats will develop this lethal disease. Most veterinarians recommend you wait around one month following the death of an infected cat before bringing a new cat into the house. This will help reduce the risk of the new cat contracting the virus that caused the death of the previous cat.
It is advisable to wait at least three months after the death of an infected cat in a household with multiple cats to determine whether or not any other cats have developed clinical illness symptoms.
On the other hand, cats exposed to the disease in the past could be carriers of it and pass it on to other cats.
5. Is FIP contagious to other cats
The simple answer is that it is.
The FIP virus is known for being infectious. However, it is not considered as contagious as so many other diseases, primarily because there are reported cases where cats are exposed to the virus early in life and carry it long-term without showing any symptoms.
This is the primary reason it is not considered as contagious as so many other diseases.
For a disease to manifest itself, there must first be a particular interaction between the virus and the immune system. It is not unusual for one of the cats in a household to pass away with FIP while the other cats continue to thrive in excellent health.
The cats that are least able to defend themselves against infectious diseases are the most at risk. This includes young kittens, elderly cats, and cats already struggling with another health issue. It would suggest that certain pedigree breeds, like the Burmese, are more likely to be impacted than regular domestic “moggies.”
The likelihood of a cat getting sick with the disease is approximately one in one hundred. Still, the danger is significantly increased when multiple cats live in close quarters together, such as in a cattery for breeding or a rescue center.
A higher disease incidence may be associated with overcrowding and other factors that contribute to stress.
6. How can I prevent my cat from getting FIP
Protecting your cat from catching feline infectious peritonitis is tricky because many different things might lead to the disease’s development.
It has been established that the risk of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is raised in cats that are kept in high-stress environments, such as animal shelters or families with several cats.
It would be best if you regularly take your cat in for checkups at the animal hospital or the veterinarian.
Additionally, try to limit your cat’s exposure to infectious diseases and ensure that he is up to date on his vaccines. Also, don’t forget to clean the litter box daily and place it in a separate room from the food and drink dishes your cat uses.
The virus is transmitted by the cat’s feces, as well as its saliva and mucus (droppings). Even after contracting the virus, some cats can fend off the sickness and live healthy lives.
These cats may spread the virus to other cats for as long as they live. A cat that may have feline infectious peritonitis should be isolated inside in a separate room so that it does not come into touch with any other cats. It should have its own feeding bowl and litter tray, which should be cleaned at least once every few days.
The virus does not have a long life expectancy outside of an animal. Still, it is possible to eradicate it by diluting a bleach solution (about five tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water). Use this to clean things like feeding bowls and wipe down surfaces around the room.
7. How to make a cat with FIP comfortable
Medicines like steroids, vitamins, and minerals are frequently prescribed to make your cat feel better; however, these treatments do not address the underlying cause of the sickness.
If you administer the appropriate treatment to your cat, you may be able to keep it healthy for a little longer.
Interferon, a potent medicine that inhibits immunological reactions, might be helpful for some cats. Still, it’s very pricey, and, in general, it doesn’t improve life expectancy beyond steroids.
When cats become ill, they frequently stop eating and drinking. It is critical to monitor your cat’s food and water consumption in order to determine when assistance is required. It is critical to keep your sick cat isolated from other pets in the house so you know who is consuming the food.
There should always be fresh water available. Because canned food contains a high proportion of water, healthy cats who eat it frequently drink very little. If your cat stops eating, it will require more fluids.
FIP may be treatable in the not-too-distant future using one of the anti-viral medications that are now being researched and produced for use against diseases that affect humans; however, this is likely to be a long way off.
8. How do you tell when a cat with FIP should be euthanized?
Examine your cat for the most severe symptoms of FIP listed below before deciding to put your cat to sleep. These will assist you in making a decision to euthanize your cat.
Stopped eating or drinking
If your furball is no longer eating or drinking on its own, there is a possibility that it is in pain. A significant amount of annoyance or pain might be brought on by dehydration. Therefore, it is essential to provide it with the necessary fluids.
In constant pain
If you notice that your cat is experiencing severe discomfort, euthanasia can be the best option. Cats are experts at disguising their distress. Therefore, you must seek the advice of a veterinarian.
Unable to walk
If your cat cannot move around on its own, you may want to consider euthanizing it. If your feline friend is also having trouble using the litter box, this is a valid point to consider.
If your kitty friend is exhibiting severe neurological symptoms like tremors or seizures, you may want to think about euthanizing them.
Unable to use the litter box
If your cat has stopped using the litter box, you should consider having it put to sleep as soon as possible.
Infection of a severe nature
If your cat has a severe infection such as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), you should probably consider euthanasia as soon as possible. It carries a risk of death.
You need to talk with your veterinarian about the prospect of euthanizing your cat if you can determine that the overall quality of life is undeniably poor.