Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal viral disease that occurs in cats. It is caused by strains of the feline coronavirus, a type of virus that infects up to 30 percent of all domestic pets. While the virus that causes the disease is common, FIP is rare. Only 5 to 10 percent of all infected cats actually develop the disease. This pet health condition does not occur in dogs, humans or other animals.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

How it Affects your pet

Due to virus mutation or the way that the immune systems of certain cats respond to coronavirus infection, the harmless feline coronavirus can transform into the deadly FIP virus. Some factors that seem to increase the likelihood that a cat infected with coronavirus will develop FIP include the following: Living in a multi-cat household, Being under stress, Having a compromised immune system, Being less than two years old, Being infected with a more dangerous strain of the virus and Genetic factors. Cats develop FIP months to years after initial coronavirus infection. Based on their symptoms, a pet usually diagnosed with either the wet or dry form of FIP, but many cats actually display symptoms of both forms. Wet FIP, also called effusive FIP, is characterized by accumulation of fluid in the body cavities. Fluid compresses the lungs and other organs and backs up into the airways. A pet with wet FIP usually only lives a few days to a few weeks after they are diagnosed with the disease, but they can live up to six to eight months after diagnosis. Dry FIP, also called noneffusive FIP, progresses more slowly than wet FIP. It causes inflammation of the organs but little fluid accumulation in the body cavities. Cats with dry FIP usually die within a few weeks of diagnosis, but some survive for a year or longer.

Common symptoms

FIP is notoriously difficult to diagnose on a pet. Part of the reason for this is that symptoms are vague and often mimic those of other cat health problems. Some fairly common symptoms of dry FIP in cats include the following: Excessive thirst and urination, Yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes and gums, Eye inflammation, Blindness, Seizures, Behavior changes, Neurological problems, Lethargy and Failure to thrive in kittens. Common symptoms of wet FIP in cats include the following: Fever, Poor appetite, Sneezing, Distended belly, Difficulty breathing, Diarrhea, Lethargy and Weight loss.

Treatments

FIP cannot be cured, so treatment is aimed at keeping affected cats comfortable by alleviating symptoms. Common treatments include antibiotics, corticosteroids, cyotoxic medications, fluid therapy, draining fluid from body cavities and blood transfusions. Affected pets can usually be kept comfortable for a period of time, but when treatment cannot provide these animals with an acceptable quality of life, euthanasia for humane reasons may be recommended.

Breeds Affected

Purebred cats are more likely to develop FIP than mixed breed cats, but some breeds seem to be more prone to the condition than others. A study from North Carolina State University suggests that members of the following breeds have a higher risk of developing FIP than other cats: Abyssinian, Bengal, Birman, Himalayan, Ragdoll and Rex.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis Affects

  • Due to virus mutation or the way that the immune systems of certain cats respond to coronavirus infection, the harmless feline coronavirus can transform into the deadly FIP virus. Some factors that seem to increase the likelihood that a cat infected with coronavirus will develop FIP include the following: Living in a multi-cat household, Being under stress, Having a compromised immune system, Being less than two years old, Being infected with a more dangerous strain of the virus and Genetic factors. Cats develop FIP months to years after initial coronavirus infection. Based on their symptoms, a pet usually diagnosed with either the wet or dry form of FIP, but many cats actually display symptoms of both forms. Wet FIP, also called effusive FIP, is characterized by accumulation of fluid in the body cavities. Fluid compresses the lungs and other organs and backs up into the airways. A pet with wet FIP usually only lives a few days to a few weeks after they are diagnosed with the disease, but they can live up to six to eight months after diagnosis. Dry FIP, also called noneffusive FIP, progresses more slowly than wet FIP. It causes inflammation of the organs but little fluid accumulation in the body cavities. Cats with dry FIP usually die within a few weeks of diagnosis, but some survive for a year or longer.

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