What is FIP.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
What is FIP?
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease of cats caused by certain strains of a virus called the feline coronavirus. Most strains of feline coronavirus are found in the gastrointestinal tract and do not cause significant disease. These are referred to as feline enteric coronavirus (FeCV). Cats infected with FeCV usually do not show any symptoms during the initial viral infection, but may occasionally experience brief bouts of diarrhea and/or mild upper respiratory signs from which they recover spontaneously. FeCV-infected cats usually mount an immune response through which antibodies against the virus are produced within 7-10 days of infection. In approximately 10 percent of cats infected with FeCV, one or more mutations of the virus can alter its biological behavior, resulting in white blood cells becoming infected with virus and spreading it throughout the cat’s body. When this occurs, the virus is referred to as the FIPV. An intense inflammatory reaction to FIPV occurs around vessels in the tissues where these infected cells locate, often in the abdomen, kidney, or brain. It is this interaction between the body’s own immune system and the virus that is responsible for the development of FIP. Once a cat develops clinical FIP, the disease is usually progressive and almost always fatal without therapy that has recently become available, but that has yet to be approved to treat FIP in cats by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (see below). To our knowledge, coronaviruses cannot be passed from infected cats to humans.
No cattery in the world is corona-virus free, if a cattery suggests they are they are lieing or misinformed 100%, unless kittens and cats are bred in laboratory conditions, it is impossible to be.
No test is reliable enough to prove otherwise and it would be a miracle.
Can a breeder test and are they responsible, is it poor breeding practices?
Unfortunately they are not responsible in any way, it has no reflection on a breeder or the conditions and can still occur even if everything is done 10/10.
HOWEVER read the bottom of the page to how a breeder should raise there kittens and hygiene conditions to MASSIVELY HELP, all of which as breeders we adhere to and MUCH MUCH MORE.
It is a unknown or to why it occurs , and there are no tests available for FIP, this is why health insurance is must. SEE OUR FAQ ON INSURANCE.
Most breeders do not cover FIP in any warranty, and this is to be expected, if a breeder does offer this, please be aware that INSURANCE BY LAW VOIDS THIS WARRANTY, as two pay outs is not deemed legal, and this is often a clause not spoke about before purchasing a kitten.
So beware that, even though a breeder may offer this, does not always mean you will be compensated, as you may of first thought.
Can my cat be tested for FIP?
Unfortunately, there is currently no definitive test to diagnose FIP. While antibody levels, or titers, to coronavirus can be measured, they cannot definitively distinguish between exposure to FeCV and FIPV. A positive result means only that the cat has had a prior exposure to coronavirus, but not necessarily to FIPV. In spite of this limitation, however, young cats that experience a fever that is not responsive to antibiotics and that have high coronavirus titers are often presumptively diagnosed with FIP (appropriately in most cases). This is particularly true if characteristic fluid (yellow tinged with a high protein and white blood cell concentration) begins to accumulate within body cavities. A healthy cat with a high coronavirus titer (i.e. many antibodies against coronavirus), however, is not necessarily more likely to develop FIP or be a carrier of an FIPV than a cat with a low titer. In cats with suppressed immune systems, FIPV infections may not cause elevated coronavirus titers due to an inability of the immune system to produce sufficient antibodies against the virus.
Other available tests can, in theory, detect the presence of the virus itself. One of these tests, called the immunoperoxidase test, can detect viral proteins in virus-infected white blood cells in tissue, but a biopsy of affected tissue is necessary for evaluation. Another, called the immunofluorescence test, can detect viral proteins in virus-infected white blood cells in tissue or body fluids. More recently, a technology called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been used to detect viral genetic material in tissue or body fluid. Although these tests can be useful, none of them is 100% accurate, and each suffers from its own limitations that may lead to false negative or false positive results.
What are the clinical signs of FIP?
FIP can cause a very wide range of clinical signs, and unfortunately none of these are unique for FIP – a diagnosis cannot therefore be based on clinical signs alone.
Early signs of FIP are usually very vague with a fluctuating fever, lethargy and inappetence being common. After a period of several days or weeks (or sometimes even many months) other signs usually develop. Two main forms of the disease are recognised known as ‘wet’ or ‘effusive’ disease, and ‘dry’ or ‘non-effusive’ disease. Many cats may in fact have a mix of these two types:
‘Wet’ or effusive FIP
In this form of disease there is accumulation of fluid within the abdominal cavity (resulting in abdominal distension) and/or the chest cavity (resulting in breathing difficulties). The fluid accumulates because infection with FIPV causes damage to and inflammation of blood vessels (called ‘vasculitis’) which results in fluid leaking from the blood into the abdomen or chest. Cases that develop fluid accumulation in the abdomen are responsible for the original name of this disease, ‘peritonitis’ referring to the inflammation that occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity.
In effusive FIP, the fluid that accumulates typically has a very high protein content, and is often a clear-yellowish colour. However, other diseases (including some liver diseases and neoplasia) can also cause a similar fluid accumulation.
‘Dry’ or non-effusive FIP
With non-effusive disease, infection with FIPV predominantly causes chronic (long-standing) inflammatory lesions to develop around blood vessels in many different organs and sites in the body. The type of changes present is usually what is known as ‘pyogranulomatous’ inflammation.
This inflammation affects the eyes in around 30% of cases and the brain in around 30% of cases, but can also affect almost any tissues in the body including the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin. Thus, a wide range of signs may be observed including neurological disease (e.g., a wobbly and unsteady gait), bleeding in the eyes and other vague signs of disease that may occur with lesions in the liver or other internal organs.
In most cases of FIP, once clinical signs have started, they tend to get progressively worse over time, and in most cases (though not all) the time course for disease is rapid, with cats deteriorating to the point that euthanasia is usually required within a matter of days or weeks. It is thought that non-effusive cases of FIP are where the cat has developed a partially effective immune response that helps to limit viral replication – this may prevent development of effusions, but is not sufficient to stop disease development.
In a number of cats, signs may develop that are a combination of both effusive and non-effusive disease.
Reducing the risk in breeding households, how a breeder can help
In breeding catteries, eradicating coronavirus infections is extremely difficult near enough impossible, as the virus is so ubiquitous, and it is unsuitable in most situations to attempt this, laboratory conditions would be the only possible way. A more practical approach is to use measures to reduce the risk of FIP occurring, but recognising that on occasions, this may happen even in the best run catteries. Good practice to minimise the risk of FIP would include:
- Avoid keeping large groups of cats and having multiple litters of kittens at any one time in the same environment.
- Keep cats in small isolated groups (ideally no more than four cats in each group – this reduces the risk of endemic FCoV infection) this is the councils recommendations also on groups.
- Have at least one litter box for every two cats, located in easy to clean and disinfect areas
- Keep litterboxes away from food and water bowls, and clean/disinfectant them regularly (at least daily)
- Avoid stress and maintain good hygiene and preventive healthcare for all cats
Wherever FIP occurs is a problem in a group of breeding cats:
- Consider preferentially breeding from older cats, as these will less likely be shedding FCoV
- Consider isolating queens just before they give birth and keeping the queen and kittens isolated from all other cats until the kittens are homed, as a means of reducing the risk of FCoV spread to kittens
- Stop breeding from any queens or tom cats that repeatedly produce litters of kittens that develop FIP as they may be passing on FCoV infection or may be passing on genetic susceptibility to disease
- Carefully review management and hygiene policies
- If faced with an outbreak of FIP, stop all breeding for several months