Finally: Feline Infectious Peritonitis Is Treatable
Due to popular request — and some exciting news — we’re going to start our blog series by talking about Feline Infectious Peritonitis .
Recently, members of the Nine Lives Foundation attended a symposium on FIP at UC Davis, and that is the source of most of the information presented here. I will also link to other sources of information at the end of this blog.
This is a topic that is near and dear to many cat owners, including many of our Nine Lives community. For those who have visited our Adoption Center, you may have noticed a photo of a handsome cat near the reception desk — that is Theodore, who was the Nine Lives “clinic cat” before being adopted. Sadly he succumbed to “wet” FIP last year.
There are few feline diseases that are scarier than FIP. For as long as it has been identified, it has been considered 100% fatal, without any way to treat or even prevent it. It snatched away mostly young cats and kittens, as well as some adult cats, often with little to no warning, leaving heartbroken owners helpless and traumatized with no options to help their beloved fur babies.
There is good news though, which is so exciting that I can’t wait any longer to write it — studies done at UC Davis have produced an amazing breakthrough: a cure for FIP! The overall consensus among experts at the recent FIP symposium was that finally FIP can be considered a treatable disease.
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What Are The Clinical Signs
FIP is a chronic, wasting disease that results in poor appetite, fever, and weight loss over several weeks it is ultimately fatal. Because various organs may be affected , a variety of clinical signs may be associated with this disease. For example, blindness or seizures may occur in one cat, while another will have signs of liver disease .
There are two forms, the wet form, and the dry form. The wet form results in the accumulation of large quantities of fluid in the chest or abdomen. If it occurs in the chest, the cat will experience difficulty breathing. When it occurs in the abdomen, a large, bloated appearance will result. The dry form affects the target organs in a similar fashion, but no fluid is produced. If enough time passes without the cat dying, the dry form may progress into the wet form. Diagnosis of FIP is much easier if fluid is present.
Is Feline Infectious Peritonitis Contagious
As with other viruses, the spread of infection to other cats is a concern. However, there are three stages of FIP infection, and significant risk to other cats occurs in only the first two stages.
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Gs441 Treatment For A Cat With Fip
During the treatment period of FIP, the owners keep track of different variables. This includes:
Clinical signs of the original disease at daily or weekly intervals are also tracked. Diagnosis of blood tests at the onset of treatment and every four weeks thereafter is also performed.
The goal of tracking is to have a healthy, alert and active cat at the end of twelve weeks of treatment. And cat with normal blood test values.
You may also need supportive care to stabilize the health of a cat with FIP.
The care also includes:
- Administering fluids and electrolytes to counteract dehydration.
- Antibiotics when a secondary bacterial infection is present.
- And anti-inflammatories , and
- Rarely blood transfusion.
Topical medications may also counteract severe inflammation. And increased intraocular pressure in some of the cats with ocular involvement.
The treatment with the injection form of GS can also complicate injection site sores. The treatment is hard on both owners and cats, as injections can be painful.
There is also a problem in some cats with FIP, especially those where neurological damage is present. This involves the development of partial drug resistance, which requires an increasing dosage.
Response to treatment is within twenty-four to seventy-two hours. Most cats are back to normal or near-normal within two to four weeks, which is a good sign.
The cure rate for FIP with GS-441424 has over 80% success rate.
Is It Better To Euthanize My Cat
Most reach a point when their quality of life is unsatisfactory and a decision for euthanasia has to be made. Not every owner is able to cope and, if there is no chance of a recovery and you are unable to give your cat the degree of care needed for a comfortable life, it may be better to opt for euthanasia.
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Some Basics About This Virus Are:
- It is common wherever cats are housed in groups and it is readily transmitted between them.
- Transmission is typically by contact with infected feces. This means that the litter box is the usual place of infection. This infection is unusual in cats that free-roam outdoors or who live in homes where there is only one cat. The virus enters the new host’s body via the nose and mouth.
- An active infection lasts several weeks to a few months. The harmless form of the virus is shed in the infected cat’s stool during this period. If the cat is reinfected, the virus sheds again for weeks to months. During this time, the cat may not seem at all ill. Some infected cats do not shed virus.
- Households with fewer than five cats eventually spontaneously become clear of the coronavirus. Households with more than five cats virtually never become clear of the coronavirus.
- Most household disinfectants readily kill the coronavirus immediately, and on flat inanimate surfaces at room temperature the coronavirus usually dies within 48 hours. Carpeting protects the virus and it can survive in carpeting for at least seven weeks.
- Once a cat has been infected with the virus and recovered, the cat can be easily re-infected by continued exposure to infected feces. In this way, many catteries where there are always cats sharing litter boxes never rid themselves of this infection.
Sadly, there is no effective treatment for FIP once it develops.
What You Need To Know About Feline Infectious Peritonitis
There are so many acronyms in veterinary medicine, it can be hard to keep them all straight. You may have seen FIP, but do you know what this disease is? Feline infectious peritonitis is an incurable and almost always fatal viral infection that primarily affects cats under 2 years of age and over 10 years of age. It is caused by the feline infectious peritonitis virus , which is believed to be a mutated form of the feline coronavirus .
There are two types of FIP:
Wet/effusive Occurs when fluid collects within an infected cats abdomen or around its heart. Cats with this form of FIP will usually only survive for a few days .Dry/non-effusive There is little or no fluid accumulation, and the cat will suffer from organ or system failure. Cats with non-effusive FIP may live longer than cats with effusive FIP, but they will eventually succumb to the disease.
Signs of effusive FIP include:
- Persistent fever
- Accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity
- Difficulty breathing
Signs of non-effusive FIP include:
- Poor growth
- Inflammation in the eye
- Neurological symptoms
Because FIP can mimic other diseases, it is difficult to diagnose . There is no FIP-specific blood test. There is a test that can determine if coronavirus antibodies are present, but it will not indicate the type of coronavirus or if it is the cause of your cats condition.
Although a vaccine exists, it is not effective.
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Do Cats Know When They Are Going To Die
Because cats rely primarily on body language to communicate to one another, they must be attuned to biological and behavioral changes in the other animals around them. This includes detecting weakness or changes in body temperature and odor. They are also intuitive in that they often know when they are about to die.
How Is Fip Diagnosed
In a cat showing some FIP symptoms, the cats age, breed, and lifestyle are considered.
A young cat of an at-risk breed, living in a multicat environment is much more likely to be suffering from FIP than an older cat who does not have contact with others.
Blood testing is then likely to be carried out. Unfortunately, there is no specific FIP blood test. A titer test can be run, but this can only check for coronavirus exposure. This is not helpful if positive, as most cases of coronavirus infection are normal intestinal infections, and there is no way to differentiate this from FIP infection. A negative result, however, is likely to mean that FIP can be ruled out.
There are some common, non-specific, changes in general blood test parameters that dont confirm FIP but, if present, give another clue FIP could be the cause of a cats illness.
If fluid is present within the abdomen or chest, then this can be sampled. Feline Infectious Peritonitis fluid is normally clear, yellow, thick and sticky in character, and high in protein when tested.
The fluid can also be checked for the presence of coronavirus within the fluid itself. Again, this test cant differentiate between the intestinal and FIP versions of coronavirus but if found in the fluid, then infection is much more likely.
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Fip Is Not A Death Sentence
Up until as recently as 4 years ago, a diagnosis of FIP for a cat or kitten was an automatic death sentence because there was no cure or even any treatment. However, after years of research, there is now a treatment and a cure for FIP. So, if your cat or kitten receives this diagnosis, there is hope, and you need to get started now! The hero of this cure is Dr. Niels Pedersen who has been researching this disease since the 1960s. Please read the links at the bottom of this page to learn more about him and how this cure was discovered.
Be aware that many vets do not know about this treatment, or do not support it, so if you get a diagnosis it is imperative you find a vet in your area who is familiar with the treatment and will work with you. If you are a former adopter of Purr Partners and in our area Raleigh/Wake Forest/Durham/Franklin County then we can recommend a vet for you who we know is supportive of the treatment and will help you through it. Veterinarians are in a tough spot because legally they cannot prescribe these drugs even if they know about them since they are not FDA approved, but we do work with the vets who are supportive to the extent they can be, and we will refer you to them.
After contacting the FIP Warriors 5.0 Facebook group, read through the following links to get informed and started treating your kitty:
How Can I Help My Cat With Congestive Heart Failure
If your cat has severe congestive heart failure, they may need to be hospitalized, receive oxygen treatments, or have their excess fluid drained with a catheter. Once your cat is stable, or if their condition isn’t as critical to begin with, your veterinarian will prescribe medications to address their symptoms.
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Is My Cat At Risk For Developing Fip
Any cat that carries FeCV is potentially at risk for developing FIP, but younger cats are at greater risk of developing FIP, with approximately 70% of cases diagnosed in cats less than 1 1/2 years of age and 50% of cases occurring in cats less than 7 months of age. The most common mode of transmission of FeCV is believed to occur when infected queens pass along the virus to their kittens, usually when the kittens are between five and eight weeks of age. Cats that are housed in high-density facilities appear to be more susceptible to the development of FIP, as are pure bred cats, male cats, and geriatric cats, for reasons that remain unclear.
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Im so sorry but I totally understand the cost problem. We are dealing with the same vet costs alone are so high and then to try to find this black market drug and afford it Im afraid for a lot of us its just not possible to spend the money. I only hope that in the future something will finally be available for vets to prescribe. We have a kitten Gertie who for now is hanging out with her siblings, eating, and snuggling. Im looking into the black market cure but I know I wont be able to afford it. It sucks. Hug Monster tight and the rest of them as well. Sending healing vibes.
We adopted a kitten in August 2019. He lives until April 2020. Sosuke was loving, active and smart. He would throw up at night almost every night. The vomit was clear liquid. After about 5 vet visits with no results we gave him sensitive stomach. He seems better. Then he started bowel movements that were clear liquid and strained. After a visit to vet ER and tests still nothing. He suddenly turned weak and stopped eating. This was when the vet finally said it could be FIP. We had to euthanize him. We are heartbroken. But I am glad I was able to give him some comfort in his short life.
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Symptoms Of Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Initial symptoms of FIP are often nonspecific such as decreased appetite, decreased energy, weight loss, and fever which can look like other illnesses. Symptoms worsen over days, weeks, sometimes even months. Kittens affected with FIP are often smaller than their littermates, weak and thin with a rough, dull haircoat.
There are 2 forms of FIP that veterinarians describe as wet and dry.
The wet form causes fluid to build up in the abdomen or the lungs/chest area. Cats develop increased fluid in the abdomen area which often mimics a pot-bellied appearance. Difficulty breathing with increased respiratory effort and panting, or open-mouth breathing happens when there is fluid in the chest area. The wet form is seen more typically in young kittens.
The dry form shows up gradually as loss of appetite, decreased activity or hiding/sleeping, slow weight loss, fever, and neurologic signs including sudden blindness or seizures and is found more often in adult cats. Cats can also have a combination of both forms.
Diagnosis Of Fip In Cats
Diagnosing FIP is difficult, and unfortunately there is no single test that can confirm FIP in a living cat. Instead, its a matter of collecting evidence using several different tests to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms.
Blood tests are an essential starting point, and can give your vet lots of information. They may be useful to rule out concurrent problems with the kidneys and liver as well as show changes typical of FIP such as a high white blood cell count, anemia, or changes in albumin and globulin levels.
An FELV/FIV test is also run using blood tests, as ruling these out is an important step.
Sampling any fluid in the abdomen or chest is a good idea, and where there isnt a lot of fluid, an ultrasound may be used to look for fluid or other suspicious lesions. FIP fluid can usually be drawn from a conscious cat using a syringe.
Testing shows a high level of protein and it is usually straw-colored, so fluid that appears different can often rule out FIP. An external laboratory can test the fluid for the virus, which if positive, makes it highly likely that FIP is the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, a negative doesnt necessarily rule out the disease.
If a cat passes away and your vet suspects FIP, samples can be taken and sent to the laboratory to confirm the disease with 100 percent certainty.
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Is There A Cure For Fip
The sad news is that there is no known cure for FIP. Once your cat has been diagnosed with FIP your vet may prescribe something that offers some short-term remission, but there is no cure.
The treatment plan is usually to provide the best care and support for your cat as you can. Making their time as happy and as comfortable as possible.
Its a traumatic time, and not one you should experience alone. Dont be slow to lean on your support network of friends and family for help.