FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, is caused by a mutation in the Feline Coronavirus (Feline Coronavirus is not the same coronavirus that is the cause of COVID-19 illness in humans and cannot be passed from infected cats to humans.) Unfortunately, once a cat develops clinical FIP, the disease usually progresses extremely quickly and almost always fatal. However, recently a treatment has become available for FIP, but has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (see below). It has seen amazing results so far.
What are the symptoms? Common symptoms include:
· Lack of appetite
· Distended belly as the disease progresses
Please get your kitten to the vet immediately if they display any of these symptoms.
Is your cat at risk for developing FIP? Any cat that carries FeCV is potentially at risk for developing FIP. However, 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. According to the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program’s website, “FIP results from the distinctive occurrence of a mutation of FeCV within a genetically susceptible cat with a particular immune response. This mutated virus is cell-associated and thus is not commonly transmitted directly from one cat to another. Disease generally develops within a few weeks to 18 months after infection with FeCV and conversion to FIPV, often following a stressor such as rehoming or spay/neuter surgery.”
Note: FIP itself is NOT contagious to other cats.
This information so that you can recognize early symptoms and take action immediately as this is a dire condition and lifesaving action should be taken immediately. There are two major forms of FIP, an effusive, or “wet” form and a non-effusive, or “dry” form. (Again, this does NOT mean that they will develop FIP… we just want to inform you of what has happened to their litter-mates.)
According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, here is what to look for:
“Regardless of which form they ultimately progress to develop, cats infected with FIPV usually first develop nonspecific signs of disease such as loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, and fever. It is also important to note that cases of the effusive form of FIP can evolve into the non-effusive form and vice-versa.
Generally speaking, the signs of the non-effusive form, which may include the non-specific signs listed above as well as neurologic signs including seizures and ataxia (abnormal or uncoordinated movements), as well as changes in the eyes, develop more slowly than those of the effusive form.
The signs of effusive form of FIP usually develop and progress relatively rapidly and include development of the above-mentioned non-specific signs combined with the accumulation of fluid in body cavities, including the abdomen and the thorax (chest cavity). Affected cats may develop a pot-bellied appearance due to fluid accumulation in the abdomen, and if the fluid accumulation is excessive, it may become difficult for a cat to breathe normally.”
*IF* your cat is diagnosed and your vet tells you that there is no treatment, THEY ARE WRONG! Due to the fact that GS is not yet approved by the U.S. FDA, vets may not mention it as a viable option. Here is what you need to know:
“Until recently, FIP was considered to be a non-treatable disease. While there are still some uncertainties regarding the long-term effectiveness of recently-identified antiviral drugs to treat FIP (most importantly regarding its effectiveness in treating the non-effusive form of FIP), studies in both the laboratory and in client-owned cats with naturally occurring FIP suggest that a drug currently referred to as GS-441524 may ultimately prove to be an effective treatment option for (minimally) the effusive form of FIP.”
While FIP was basically a “death sentence” for many years, the GS441 protocol is hugely successful treatment the world over, and we know a number of people, including one in Stafford, who have quite successfully used the various GS441 protocols (a once daily, 84 day treatment, either pill or injection, followed by an 85 day observation period. It is approved in many countries, but unfortunately, the United States is slow on these things and the FDA hasn’t approved it for this use. However, the success rate is HIGH. We HIGHLY recommend trying it. The earlier you begin treatment, the more likely chance for success, and, if it works, they can lead completely full lives with no residual effects. If you are interested in learning more, or joining the groups, here is a great one: FIP Warriors:
This website tells you all about the FIP treatment drug GS441 in general: https://fiptreatment.com/
We are here for you after your adoption of our four legged babies. Should they become ill, we will walk with you through it all.
Please keep us posted on how your baby is doing and we will look forward to hearing from you,
Karen, Cathie, & Mike
The Purrs & Whiskers Board of Directors