Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP in Cats, is a fatal disease that is incurable for cats. Believed to be cause by what is a benign Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus, white blood cells in the cat are invaded and the cat’s immune system has an inflammatory reaction in it’s tissues. Generally, FIP in cats disease is fatal. There is a vaccine that is administered nasally to help treat FIP in cats, however, it’s effectiveness is yet to be thoroughly proven. There are strides being made in alternatives for medicines to combat this disease.
FIP in cats is actually a very common disease that is found in places where there are large communities of cats being kept together, like catteries and animal shelters. The disease is passed between cats by either ingesting or inhaling the virus. Most commonly the disease is transmitted thought feces, though surface like clothing and food dishes can also transmit the cat virus easily.
Not all cats with the virus in their system will develop FIP. In most cases the only signs that show your cat may be infected is with a mild case of diarrhea. Without true clinical signs to warn owners, the infected cat may then pass the virus onto another cat. Though genetic probabilities factor into whether a cat with develop the virus or FIP, old cats and young cats are more prone to developing symptoms.
There are two forms of FIP in cats which are used to diagnose if a cat has FIP. Non-effusive and Effusive. Effusive is considered wet, allowing the chest of abdomen to accumulate fluids, frequently causing difficulty in breathing. Effusive FIP is the most common form of this disease. There are more symptoms, including fever, lack of appetite, jaundice, and weight loss.
Dry FIP, or non-effusive, shows many of the symptoms found in effusive FIP, but with lack of fluid accumulation. Typically the feline will show neurological or ocular warning signs. These signs include loss of vision, difficulty in walking or standing, and potentially functional paralyzation over a period of time.
Unfortunately, there is not a cure for FIP in cats. Typically, the cat owner will be advised that the only thing they can do to help the cat is to help them be as comfortable as they can. There are certain drugs available that may or may not help prolong your cat’s life by a few weeks, but FIP is usually rapidly progressive so that any therapy which is meaningful will not be effective.
If your cat is showing any signs of FIP, the best thing you can do is bring your cat to a veterinarian who specializes in FIP in cats. There they will be able to do blood-work and properly diagnose your feline for FIP. This is the best chance to help prolong your cat’s life and ultimately soften the blow of deciding to euthanize you beloved friend.