by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a devastating disease affecting all cats, small and big. There is no reliable vaccination and cure, only treatment options for the remaining time left. This is article is intended as a starting-point, there are excellent and detailed articles available on the Internet.
FIP is the result of a mutation of the Feline Coronavirus (FCoV), which is carried by 80 to 90% of all cats. Less than 5% of these cats will develop FIP. The factors that contribute to FIP are the presence of FCoV, a compromised immune system, stress, and a genetic disposition for susceptibility. All cats that present with these conditions are at risk, although most cats that develop the disease are under 2 years old, with geriatric cats also a high risk.
There are two version of FIP, wet and dry. General symptoms are lethargy, weight-loss, change in eating habits, and a fever that does not respond to antibiotics. The wet form is characterised by fluid build-up in the abdomen and/or chest, while with the dry form various organs become inflamed. Each of these has additional symptoms, depending on the specific type and organ affected.
Other diseases can take advantage of a compromised immune system; this can affect, and even delay, the diagnosis of FIP. Cats tend to hide their issues until it is almost too late to help them.
Diagnosis is by exclusion; if no other disease can be identified then it is assumed to be FIP. There are tests that can support the likelihood of FIP, based on the analysis of blood and fluid. No effective vaccines are currently available.
There is no cure for FIP, only supportive treatment, comfort, and care. Cats suffering from wet FIP typically only live a few weeks after diagnosis, while those with dry FIP can live relatively comfortably for longer, depending on the severity and the availability of drugs .
Although FCoV can be transmitted between cats, FIP itself is not contagious. However, the conditions that caused the virus to mutate may still be present in the environment, and other vulnerable cats may contract FIP.
Cats most at risk are indoor-only cats in multi-cat households, and those that experience high levels of stress. No overcrowding, good litter hygiene, a good diet, and limited chronic stress are the best ways of preventing the spread of FIP. Overcrowding and stress are relative to each cat, and the level can change rapidly.
The most difficult part of this disease is felt by the owners. Knowing there is little that can be done for your precious and much-loved friend is devastating. Although you know there is little you can do, except keep them comfortable, the knowledge that they will die is very hard to deal with.
One of these cats is Cujo, a beautiful Birman who has dry FIP. His mom, Kerry, is raising funds for chronic medication to help him fight the disease; this is an expensive and emotionally-draining task. Please help Kerry give Cujo the chance he needs and deserves. Help Cujo Fight FIP!
For more detailed information on FIP visit these websites:
For information on Anticipatory Grief visit Grieving Before a Death
To contact Barbara, please email firstname.lastname@example.org