In this article, we tell you what feline infectious peritonitis is, its causes, treatment, prevention and much more. Stay reading and together let's continue working to give our pets the life they deserve.
What is feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)?
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease that affects cats and is caused by a type of feline coronavirus. Most cats that contract FCoV develop a mild or asymptomatic infection, but in some cases, the infection can progress to feline infectious peritonitis.
Causes and risk factors
There are several factors that influence the development of feline peritonitis:
FIP often affects young cats, especially those under two years of age. However, it can occur at any age.
Chronic stress or stressful situations can weaken a cat's immune system, which can increase the risk of virus mutation.
FIP tends to occur more frequently in environments with a high density of cats, such as shelters, catteries, or places where multiple cats share the same space.
Some research suggests that certain genetic predispositions may influence a cat's susceptibility to developing FIP.
Cats with weakened or compromised immune systems due to concurrent illnesses may be at increased risk of developing FIP.
Types of infectious peritonitis in cats
Effusive (Wet) Peritonitis
A significant accumulation of fluid occurs in the abdominal cavity of the cat, this fluid may contain inflammatory cells and proteins. Cats with effusive FIP may show abdominal swelling, difficulty breathing due to fluid pressure in the lungs, weight loss, lethargy, and other signs of systemic illness.
Non-Effusive Peritonitis (Dry)
In this type of FIP, the disease directly affects internal organs, such as the kidneys, liver, lungs and others. Clinical signs may vary and depend on which organs are affected. They may include symptoms such as weight loss, fever, jaundice, respiratory problems, among others.
Symptoms of peritonitis in cats
It is important to identify the symptoms of an infection with the rather harmless feline coronavirus and those of FIP. Some of the symptoms may be the following:
- Fever in cats
- Lack of appetite
- Mild breathing problems
How is FIP spread in cats?
Direct contact with infected feces
Other cats can become infected if they come into direct contact with contaminated feces, whether in the home environment, in catteries, shelters or other places where cats are present.
It can spread through inhalation or ingestion of viral particles present in the air or on contaminated surfaces. This can occur if a cat comes into contact with nasal secretions, saliva, or other body fluids from an infected cat.
In environments with a high density of cats, such as catteries or shelters, where cats share spaces and resources, the risk of transmission increases.
Diagnosis of FIP in cats
The virus can be detected through several clinical tests:
Typical changes in the blood count, such as anemia, lymphocytopenia, elevated bilirubin or ALT values, and a low albumin-globulin ratio, corroborate the suspicion.
Cats with FIP usually have a much higher number of antibodies.
Direct detection of the pathogen (PCR test)
The FIP virus can be detected directly in blood, stool, or ascitic fluid. However, just because this test is negative does not mean that the cat does not have feline infectious peritonitis.
Although it may sound sad, the definitive diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis is usually made by a pathologist once the cat has died.
Treatment for feline infectious peritonitis
To date, it is important to emphasize that there is no treatment that cures the disease; however, there are preventive measures that can be carried out to avoid it.
Tips for treating FIP at home
- Let each cat have its own litter box.
- Let each cat have its own food and water bowl.
- Have an individual poop scoop for each of the cats.
- Empty the litter boxes at least once a day.
- Remove all sand and disinfect sandboxes at least once a week.
- Keep litter boxes away from the food area.
- Vacuum the area around the sandboxes regularly.
- Trim the hair on the buttocks of long-haired cats.
Recommendations to prevent FIP
- Avoid a high density of cats in the same space, as this can increase the risk of FCoV transmission. This is especially important in shelters, catteries, and multi-cat households.
- Maintaining a clean and disinfected environment can help reduce the spread of the virus. Maintain cat grooming and hygiene by regularly cleaning the areas where cats eat, drink and relieve themselves. Use cat-safe cleaning products. You will also have to pay attention to dental cleaning in cats .
- If you have a cat infected with FCoV, try to keep it separate from other cats to avoid direct transmission of the virus. This can be especially important in environments where multiple cats share the same space.
- Keep cats free of parasites, such as fleas and worms. Parasites can weaken the immune system, which could increase the risk of infection.
- Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, so try to provide a calm, enriching environment for your cats. Avoid sudden changes and provide safe and comfortable areas.
If you want to know the administration doses read the article: CBD in Cats
In conclusion, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a serious and, in many cases, fatal viral disease that affects cats. It is caused by a mutation of the feline coronavirus (FCoV), and its complexity and variability make prevention and treatment challenging. There is no specific treatment for FIP, and the focus is on relieving symptoms and supporting the cat's well-being. Given the severity of the disease, the prognosis is usually unfavorable. Prevention and conscious care are essential to reduce the risk of feline infectious peritonitis and ensure the health and well-being of cats.