When we adopt a pet, our hope is that he or she will live a long, happy and healthy life with us until they are old, grey, and peacefully pass away in their sleep. (Or, ideally, they could just live forever!) With lots of love and diligent preventative care as well as regular visits to your vet, you can increase the quality of your pets life as well as their life expectancy. Part of diligent veterinary care is to recognize the signs of certain illnesses so you can bring your pet to the vet ASAP.
If you are the pet-parent of a feline, this one is for you!
Today, we bring you some information on a very important-to-know-about virus that, ironically, we don’t know much about… Feline Infectious Peritonitis. (FIP.)
FIP can affect many system in a cat’s body, and in most cases, it is fatal :(. BUT the good news is that exposure to the virus does NOT mean your cat will automatically develop symptoms.
There are two types of this virus and unfortunately we can’t distinguish between the two with lab tests. The first type is avirulent (does not cause disease). It is referred to as Feline Enteric Coronavirus Virus (FECV) and often a cat will display no symptoms at all, or at the very worst mild diarrhea. The second type occurs when the FECV mutates and/or if a cat has a weak immune system. That’s when it turns into full-on FIP.
The virus can spread via saliva and feces of infected cats; i.e. sharing a litter box and cat to cat contact (grooming). Shelters and catteries are most at risk for FIP due to the large volume of cats living in close quarters of each other.
Symptoms of possible FIP include fever that does not respond to antibiotics, loss of appetite and lethargy. Sometimes there is a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity, the lungs, or both.
Diagnosing FIP is tricky because tests will only indicate exposure, and many exposed cats (carrying the coronavirus; FECV) will test positive even if they do not actually have FIP. Oftentimes, a definitive test can only be done by taking a biopsy of affected organs postmortem.
Would I recommend getting the test done anyway? Personally, if you suspect your cat may have been exposed, or if your cat is displaying symptoms, its good to either know its a possibility or to rule it out. Even though a test that comes back positive doesn’t necessarily mean your cat has FIP, it will at least let you know the corona virus is present and you and your vet can prepare for what type of medical care your feline will need. If it comes back negative, you have at least eliminated one possible cause of your cats illness and you can explore other possibilities and treatments. I would recommend the test if your cat is displaying any type of illness that the vet can’t pinpoint another diagnosis on, especially if you adopted your cat from a shelter or cattery and you know he or she has had high exposure to other cats.
I know this is a scary virus, but an educated kitty-parent is good kitty-parent. The more we know about what could potentially be ailing our pets, the more proactive we can be when our purry little felines aren’t feeling so well.
Hopefully you found this useful, don’t be shy on googling more information about FIP if you have any concerns, or feel free to reach out to ECPR with any questions. We will answer them to the best of our ability or help you find someone who has answers if we do not!