What is Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP?
FIP is an autoimmune disease like FELV and FIV, and it is caused by a type of Coronavirus. There is no effective treatment or diagnostic test. FIP may be caused by a mutation of the Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FECV), but no one is sure at this point.
Which cats are at risk?
FIP usually occurs in kittens or young cats who have come in contact with others cats. It is said that households with only one cat are generally free of all coronaviruses. (More cats increases the risk for FIP.) It is a contagious disease (feces may contribute to transmission). So it would only stand to reason that catteries should educate themselves on FIP. It is very elusive - FIP can wipe out an entire cattery, while another cattery may loose one kitten and never see FIP again.
What are some of the symptoms?
Wet: abdomen/chest distended with fluid, enlarged lymph nodes, jaundice, mild anemia, and gastrointestinal
Dry: weight loss, depression, anemia, and fever as well as signs of kidney failure, pancreatic disease, liver failure, neurologic disease or ocular disease and inflammed organs
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What can I do to prevent my cat from getting it?
There is a test that can detect a coronavirus, but it cannot tell you if you cat specifically has FIP. There are definitely many issues with this test. Definitely wash thoroughly with disinfecting agents anything that has come in contact with an infected cat.
How about a vaccine?
A vaccine does exist, but there is much disagreement around it. Apparently, there are still many questions about its effectiveness. Many vets will not advise the vaccine.