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Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)


Imagine a disease that is infectious, yet not contagious, has 100 per cent mortality, virtually no diagnostic test to confirm it, and no effective treatment. When feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) becomes a possibility for a pet cat, questions abound, yet not nearly enough answers.{{more}}

What is FIP?

Feline infectious peritonitis is a syndrome that results from wide-spread infiltration of the body’s organs with a type of inflammatory tissue called pyogranuloma. The resulting global inflammation leads to the failure of the infiltrated organs, fevers unresponsive to antibiotics, and often an accumulation of thick yellow fluid in the belly or chest. The “wet” form of FIP includes the thick, yellow fluid, as noted. The “dry” form is more insidious, leading to death over a much longer period (often years). Both forms are felt to have 100 per cent mortality.

Is FIP Contagious?

Very simply, the answer is no.

How can an infectious disease not be contagious?

Feline infectious peritonitis is a reaction to infection with the feline coronavirus. Most cats who become infected with the feline enteric coronavirus (often simply called feline coronavirus) essentially get the flu and never develop anything that can in any way be described as serious. Some cats, however, react with this devastating syndrome.

Why isn’t the mutated virus contagious?

We do not know why. We can inject fluids from a cat with FIP into a normal cat and cause FIP, but short of this kind of experimental transmission, the mutated virus doesn’t seem to make it into the natural external secretions of an infected cat. This effectively confines the mutated virus inside the sick cat’s body, though the sick cat will still shed non-mutated virus.

Is there really no effective treatment?

There really is no effective treatment for FIP and it has virtually 100 per cent mortality (death). The goal of confirming FIP (as best as can be done) is to rule out other diseases that might be treatable.

Currently, the best we can offer with treatment is the possibility of temporary mitigation of signs. It is important to realize that since this is a progressive disease, one should become familiar with criteria for euthanasia and emotionally prepare for this decision.

Isn’t there at least experimental treatment?

There is virtually always experimental treatment. Here are some treatments that are being explored or which have been explored:

o Immune suppression

FIP is a disease created by the cat’s own immune system.

Immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisone and cyclophosphamide have been used to slow the progression of FIP.

o Removing the effusion

Suctioning of the effusion will ease the difficult breathing of a cat with fluid in its chest, but even removing the effusion from the belly helps remove a large source of inflammation. Some cats experience a temporary improvement with the fluid removed.

For further information, contact: Dr Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981