Friday, August 28, 2009 3:40 PM

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline Infectious Peritonitis is a disease that may cause either a mild illness or an often fatal one. In its mild form, the cat will exhibit symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea; alternately, some cats show such mild symptoms that an owner may not even know the cat is ill.

The more severe form is not so easy to miss. It presents as either "wet" or "dry"; sometimes, there is a mixture of the two. Fluids leaking into the abdominal and chest cavities (the "wet" type) cause pleurisy, and owners often first notice a hard, swollen belly in infected cats. Nervous system involvement is more common with the dry type of FIP; cats often experience at least partial paralysis. Cats usually succumb to the wet form more quickly, but both almost always lead to organ failure and death.

FIP is caused by a coronavirus, and spreads rapidly amongst large populations of cats, usually via the fecal route. The virus can also be spread by saliva. A compromised or immature immune system lets the virus take hold, hence its prevalence among kittens less than 4 months of age. Infection of older cats is not unheard of, though less common. Unneutered males who roam and fight comprise a large portion of that category.

Shouldn't cats be vaccinated against such a terrible disease? Well, again, the efficacy of the FIP intranasal vaccine has not been proved. In fact, even its manufacturer states that it should not be used on cats younger than 16 weeks, which is the prime infection period. Even in adults, the vaccine has caused cats to shed the virus and even become ill with it!

Keeping your cat indoors is once more the protection mode of choice. Feeding a good premium or homemade diet that enhances immune response is the best way to protect your cat against this disease.

Movie of the Week: Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway and directed by Jonathan Demme, one of my favorite directors. Once you get past the somewhat irritating pseudo-documentary style camera work, I guarantee you'll be hooked. The title occasion is the setting for a tale of a splintered family whose members are still suffering from the effects of a tragic accident years before. Some scenes will make you squirm, while others will actually make you gasp. A realistic presentation of a painful topic.
Chat later!


August 29, 2009 at 8:56 PM

Thank you for this great article!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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