Feline Infectious Peritonitis is a viral disease that is almost always fatal. This is a disease that only affects cats. The problems seen with this disease are found usually in cats that live in a multicat environment. FIP is more frequently a problem in cats that are in crowded surroundings where stress and secondary infections are commonplace.
FIP is transmitted from cat to cat by close contact. The virus can be found in respiratory and oral secretions, feces and urine. This virus is most commonly spread in the feces. It can be easily killed by common household detergents, disinfectants and bleach. Because of this, the virus does not survive for long outside the cat. The virus can at times be passed on from the female cat directly to its kittens before birth.
There is know specific time for a cat to show symptoms after infection with FIP. Signs of infection can be fever, poor appetite, lethargy, weight loss, depression, anemia, kidney disease, liver disease, eye disorders, nervous disorders, cardiac disease to name a few. The disease can be referred to as “wet or dry” forms of FIP.
To diagnose the disease, it takes more than just one test to confirm infection. Analysis of fluids from the abdomen and/or chest, blood titers and biopsy of affected organs along with a thorough history are needed for a correct diagnosis. This disease can not be definitively diagnosed by a blood test alone. MISINTERPRETATION OF ONE BLOOD TEST CAN LEAD TO UNNECESSARY EUTHANASIA.
Although there is no specific treatment or cure for FIP, many forms of supportive care can help to give some comfortable and quality time to the pet. This is not true for all cases. A vaccine had been introduced in the early 1990s. It is the de la Houssaye Animal Hospitals opinion that this vaccine is not as beneficial as first thought and is not needed by all cats. We presently do not recommend this vaccine for routine use but if a request is made, we feel it should only be used with cats that are in a high risk environment where it is believed that FIP is prevalent.
The de la Houssaye Animal Hospital believes that the best way to prevent infection of your cat with FIP is the following:
- Prevent contact with cats you are not familiar with.
- Proper vaccination and health maintenance to avoid the secondary problems that can lead to infection with FIP.
- Do not allow your cats to roam the neighborhood.
- Surgically neuter or spay your pet for this reduces the need or desire for cats to roam away from home and contact sick animals.