5 Things to Know About FIP

Here's what you need to know about Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)

Steve Dale  |  Apr 1st 2020

1. Dr. Niels Pedersen, legendary veterinary researcher, says that FIP kills around 1.3% of cats worldwide. True, that’s a small percent, but still millions of deaths annually.

2. Why some cats and not others? This was a topic of great discussion at the symposium. It’s always been suspected that pedigreed cats are more likely to have FIP, and maybe some breeds more than others. While FIP can infect any cat of any age, by far most FIP occurs in kittens. Geneticist Leslie Lyons of the Department of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery, University of Missouri-Columbia, says, “The answer is we really don’t know anything about the genetics for FIP at this point in time. We make presumptions regarding breeds, but we need to know much more.”

3. This typically benign coronavirus is ubiquitous in cats. Dr. Pedersen says in about 11% of cats, a mutation of the virus or abnormal immune response within the cat transforms the benign coronavirus into the insidious immune-mediated disease called FIP.

4. “Today, we know that stress and environment have a lot to do with it. Maybe there is a susceptibility in some breeds more than others, or some families (of any breed or mix) more than others; we just don’t know,” Dr. Lyons says.

5. There are two kinds of FIP: wet (or effusive) and dry (or non-effusive). In wet FIP, fluid builds up in the chest and/or abdomen. It looks as if these kitties have a beer belly. Kitties with dry FIP don’t appear any different. But, like all cats with FIP, they act differently — showing ocular or neurological signs. Early signs may also include a lack of appetite, lethargy and a fever — they’re just not thriving.

Top photograph: pyotr021 | Getty Image

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