FIP is feline Infectious Peritonitis. FIP kill rate is 1/100 or 1/300 cats who are under 5. Kittens are 10 times more affected than adult ones. Especially the ones that come from shelters. FIP is such a disease that has no cure or treatment. The symptoms or the effect can take weeks or months or years to appear. But the effect is sudden. That is why cat owners get their heart broken because of the conclusion that FIP has made upon their pet cats.
FIP is generally developed from a feline coronavirus. Coronavirus can exist in any animal and human. There are separate types of coronavirus. FIP causes excessive abdominal fluid or known as ascites.
FIP also causes illnesses like intraocular and neurologic inflammatory disease. When FECV mutates to FIPV then the FIP gets created. It does not affect all the animals who were exposed to the virus, only a very small number of cats get affected.
When you want to Euthanize your cat that is up to you. Cats are very quick to mask their illness. If they keep purring that does not mean that they are ok inside. It is important information that cats purr when they are in extreme pain.
So, if you think that your cat is having more bad days than good, then I think you should consider euthanizing him or her.There is no gain in keeping your cat alive when he or she has no hope but to suffer.
Always make sure that there are no other options left for you to try and save your Kitty. Euthanizing is an option when your Cat is suffering horribly and you want to end his life for his good. It is not an easy job to do but being a pet owner you have to take strict decisions for your pet’s own good.
Who is at the greatest risk of fip?
Newborn kittens of 6 to 8 weeks are highly at risk of catching this disease. Especially kittens that are born and bred in the catteries or in the shelters are highly at risk of this FIP.
Adult cats can also be affected by this FIP but the chances the less. It is primarily because they have a stronger immune system than the kittens.
Any breed can be affected but cross breeds and cats that have produced a baby by mating with a feral cat are more likely to have this disease.
What are the signs of feline infectious peritonitis?
The actual effect appears after a week or month or year but till then cats can show very unclear symptoms. This disease is not directly caused by FIP but a combination of various other symptoms like chlamydophila, herpesvirus, mycoplasma etc.
Remember, not all cats die in contact with this disease. Some cats survive, some cats unfortunately can not. However, when i say they die i mean after battling for a long period of time, they die. That sums up to a long time of suffering for them.
FIP is fatal because it starts taking effect when your cat’s defense system collapses. In this situation the cat’s immunity system becomes extremely weak and it gets very hard to reverse the power of the FIP disease. Your cat’s immune system can not defend enough to fight back the FIP disease.
As I have informed before the latent symptoms are—
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent fever
- Tendency to catch other infections like respiratory illness
FIP can be of two kinds, one is wet FIP and the other is dry FIP. These signs appear in a more mature stage. Wet FIP is very common and caused by swelling of the abdominal viscera(very rare cases thoracic organs also get affected).
Dry FIP does not create any fluid hence the name justifies. This affects spleen, eyes, lining of the lungs and heart, kidneys, CNS or central nervous system. Symptoms are
- Cloudy eyes
- Colour change in iris
- Spine and brain swollen
- Kidney problems
- Heart and lung problems
How is fip transmitted?
Cats with FIP positive do come in contact with other cats, but their disease does not always spread into other fellow felines. This observation is purely clinical ones. But this has been proven right by laboratory studies.
Contact tests have not been experimented yet. Coronavirus are omnipresent in all cats. Coronavirus in cats are referred to as FECV i.e. feline enteric coronavirus. In all catteries which consist of 8 or more cats, this virus is present. Over 40 % of the shelters’ kittens are suspected of this disease.
This virus exists in the digestive tract. So, when in the cattery or in the shelter one cat who has the virus litters, the virus sheds in the feces. This cat can have this virus for 4 to 6 months or even a whole year. With this infections can also occur.
FECV can easily go from one place to another through litter(and litter dust) and this virus can travel via cloth and anybody. That means suppose you get into contact with any cat’s litter then you go home to your cat, the virus can affect your cat too.
These viruses can stick to the paws or the fur of the FIP positive cat and then if he or any other cat licks the fur or the virus contaminated area then FECV goes straight to the digestive system.
Kittens can be infected when they are about 9 to 10 weeks old by other cats. Although some researchers have also reported that this FECV can attack even 3 weeks old.
Does fip only affect pedigreed cats?
FIP can affect all cats irrespective of their breed. However, it has been noticed that only kittens get more affected by this disease. So, it can be linked nearly with cat breeding.
When a shelter is over crowded or even in a house also, if there is an overwhelming population of cats in one single household then it can lead to improper husbandry and can be an invitation to this disease. We can also notice that 50% or more of these cases are due to the genetics of the cats.
FIP though can infect any cat but there are some certain breeds or bloodlines that are more prone to die from FIP. There are also some matings that can produce a baby who has a high chance to die from FIP. This happens mostly because of the inbreeding which is used to develop the breed.
So, this is why catteries are so likely to get this disease spread among the kittens. Catteries crossbreed cats, they have overpopulated cats in their system and they have a lot of kittens.
It is reported that any cattery will face a FIP outbreak once in 5 years. And cats will die 5 to 10 times more in catteries than in any general survival area.
In the 2nd number comes the shelters. Cats in shelters are at risk, especially kittens in the crowded home. In shelters there are no charted breeding, it is completely random. Some cats breed with feral cats too. In this case random bred kittens are even more at risk because of their genetics.
How to Diagnose and Treat Feline Infectious Peritonitis?
When you take your cat to check up you hope that this is something curable. Your vet may tell you to do some tests first. Now, being a vet he or she always wants to rule out all the possible diseases before declaring your cat has FIP positive because your cat having FIP means there are no hopes. Your cat will die at any given moment. That is why vets want to be absolutely sure about the results.
There is no one particular test for a cat to decide if it has the virus or not. There are some chains of tests that need to be run to be sure about the virus being in your cat or not. Your vet may check the symptoms like–
- If your cat is having hyperglobulinemia
- If your cat has frequent fluctuating fever
- High proteins related issues
- Any neurological problems
- Frequent uveitis
These tests are to check if your cat has dry FIP or not. There are other diagnostics to determine wet FIP in your cat. An experienced cattery owner can sometimes determine if one of the cats has FIP or not just by observing some behaviors.
FIP can be diagnosed with macrophages in the ascetic(immunohistochemistry). Other than this, PCR can also work well when determining the disease by checking the diseased tissues/fluids. Another good way is to do a necropsy by an experienced and well qualified veterinarian.
But nowadays many tests are not correctly designed and run with improper methods resulting in frequent wrong decisions.
How can we prevent FIP?
There are three most important things one can do to prevent FIP.
- Reducing the population of cats in a cattery- over population is one reason that FIP occurs in cats. So, if we can reduce the number then prevention can be applied. But many cattery owners are greedy and want to earn as much profit as they can. They ignore the health of their cats which can be fatal later on to all the cats.
- Kitten breeding- just like the population, we have to adjust the number of kittens too. We should keep the kitten separately until they grow a strong immune system.
- Shelter population must be reduced- if we can also reduce the population of the cats in the shelter then there will be less cross breeds. Which means that there will be less kittens who are suspected to have FIP.
Other than these measurements there are some paths we can also follow, observe the symptoms and behaviours of our pet cats, we can start treatment early if we determine the disease early. There can be miracles so do not lose hope.
We have to stop buying cats from the catteries. Your cats will be your beloved pets no matter what breed they are. We have to reduce the demand of high bred cats, this way there will be less demand which will result in less production.