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FIP: Feline Infectious Peritonitis
FIP, these three initials have the ability to make most cat owners shake in their boots. Feline Infectious Peritonitis is truly a dreadful disease, often misunderstood and many times misdiagnosed. FIP arrives in two forms: Wet (effusive) and dry (non-effusive). Effusive means unrestrained, as this disease ravages the cat’s body causing abnormal readings when lab tests are run. FIP falls under the classification of a coronavirus. FIP affects the upper respiratory system and gastrointestinal system of an infected cat.
There are NO diagnostic tests currently available to adequately diagnose FIP. If your veterinarian tells you there is a titer test available, he is misinformed. The symptoms of FIP can be confusing, because FIP mimics other diseases quite effectively.
Please note that the above symptoms with the exception of the pouch can also be symptoms for hepatic lipidosis, parasitic infections, heart disease, urinary tract infections and other common health issues.
According the experts, stress plays a large part in cats developing FIP. Cats can become easily stressed. In order to prevent stress within your cat(s) keep their routines fairly steady. Avoid introducing anything “new” suddenly into their environment. If you have to leave them for long periods of time, be sure to leave them in capable hands. Don’t expect them to be able to fend for themselves over a 24 hours period.
We have a cat in our care that was “diagnosed” with wet FIP. She carries a large, fluid-filled pouch just under her right front leg. My vet did a needle draw and withdrew some nasty looking yellow, thick liquid; liquid that he told me was a clear indication of wet effusive FIP. He told us that she had about three months to live. This was six months ago and she is still alive. If this were truly FIP she would be three months gone.
FIP is not contagious as originally thought. In her excellent essay on Feline Infectious Peritonitis, pet author Kari Winter stresses that kittens and cats suspected of having FIP do not have be isolated from the other cats unless the kittens are under 6 months old.
Stray cats coming into a house with resident cats, need to be separated from the resident cats at least two weeks if not longer. This holds true even if FIP is not suspected.
For complete up-to-date information about FIP please see this website: http://www.winnfelinehealth.org/health/FIP.html
Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writers’ Association. Her expertise lies in feral cat socialization, bottle babies and animal abuse issues.