What is FIP?
FIP stands for Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It is an infection affecting cats and is caused by the feline coronavirus. It is the most common infection among cats that lead to debilitating symptoms and death. FIP is said to affect both domestic and wild cats such as tigers, cougars, lions, and cheetahs.
The feline coronavirus has two types. The first type is said to be “avirulent” wherein the cat may be infected but does not present any symptoms. The other type is called the “virulent” type and is the cause of FIP in cats.
In FIP, the inflammation actually targets the blood vessels instead of the peritoneum which lines the abdomen. Symptoms would then vary depending on which blood vessels are affected. During infection, the cat’s white blood cells are attacked. And depending on the cat’s immune system, these white blood cells may not be able to contain the coronavirus. If this is the case, the inflammatory process begins.
For the dry and non-effusive type of FIP, cats will usually have fever and would appear lethargic. Oftentimes, they seem to have lost their appetite resulting to weight loss. Some cats will also have muscle paralysis, convulsions, and behavioral changes. In this type, most symptoms appear gradually. The other type is called the wet and effusive FIP, which presents similar symptoms to the non-effusive type in the early stage of the illness. Later on, fluid may accumulate in the cat’s abdomen and even on the chest causing various complications and death in just a few months.
There is no available treatment for FIP in cats. Management is usually supportive depending on the symptoms. Drugs such as antibiotics and corticosteroids are usually given to cats to manage the internal inflammation. Other anti-viral drugs may also be prescribed to aid the immune system in suppressing the coronavirus.
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