Feline Infectious Peritonitis

The condition feline infectious peritonitis is a condition that is known as FIP, and it is caused by a mutated virus in a cat that has developed a common infection known as feline coronavirus.

Whilst this latter infection is common amongst cats it does not normally result in nothing happening and the cat makes a good recovery.

However, the condition is usually prevalent in environments where there is overcrowding such as in shelters, where there are many cats. It is only if the infection mutates that the sufferer will develop FIP. Worryingly, there are estimations that between 25 and 40 percent of household cats may be affected by the coronavirus, but for the majority of them it should turn out to a condition that is not serious.

-- Feline Infectious Peritonitis --

How does it turn into FIP?

Unfortunately it is unknown exactly why the virus mutates and become FIP, but it is known that this can often happen in younger cats. Younger cats may be more open to this mutation due to stresses such as being vaccinated, being rehomed, being neutered, and other factors that can bring about stress for a cat.

However, FIP can develop in cats of any age, and there are no factors that make one cat more or less likely to get it than another. It is thought that genetics could play a part in the likelihood of the mutation, because it is more common amongst purebred cats, and in even in particular lines of purebred.Recognising FIP

It can even be difficult to recognise the symptoms of FIP, as they are quite vague. A build up of yellow fluid in the abdomen is one of the clinical manifestations, but this is not something that an owner would be able to see and sometimes the build-up is not even visible.

There are a few signs that you can look out for, but these signs are very generalise, and could be attributed to a wide range of health problems including loss of appetite and lethargy. Some cats will develop visual problems and abnormal behaviour due to inflammation in the eye and nervous system.

How is the disease diagnosed?

It can be difficult to diagnose FIP, particularly in the earlier stages. Whilst tissue biopsies can help to make a more definitive diagnosis, the cat may sometimes be too ill to have this performed. The vet may carry out an eye and neurology assessment, and may carry out x-rays of the chest and abdomen, at which point a fluid analysis may be performed.

Some signs of the disease will not present themselves during the early stages, which cam make timely diagnosis difficult.

However, blood tests will sometimes be carried out in a bid to rule out other diseases or health issues, which can narrow things down for the vet.

-- Feline Infectious Peritonitis --

Treatment of FIP

Unfortunately, once the clinical signs of this disease manifest it is too late for the cat to be treated, and the disease is usually fatal. The vet will prescribe treatment to ease the discomfort for your cat, but these are all about managing the disease rather than curing it.

There is a vaccine available in some countries, but at present it is not recommended for use by some of the major cat specialist boards in both Europe and the USA.

Preventing FIP

With no proven vaccine that can be used to prevent this disease it is really up to you as the owner to minimise the risk of your cat getting this disease. This may be done through minimising on stress factors for your cat as much as possible (of course it can't be avoided altogether as some cats get stressed about anything!).

You should also try and get your cat from somewhere that does not have loads of cats wandering around, and try and keep them in a household where there are not too many cats.

-- Feline Infectious Peritonitis --

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