Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
One of the most frustrating and confusing viral infections seen sporadically in cats is a disease known as feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP. This is caused by the type of virus called a corona virus. In fact, most cats either have been exposed to or are carriers of many types of corona viruses. It is now believed that under certain circumstances, either because of physical, emotional or toxic stress, a very virulent strain called FIP can sporadically occur in cat populations.
Unlike many other feline viruses like feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which suppress the immune system, it is in fact the cat’s immune system’s over-reaction to the FIP virus which leads to the clinical symptoms seen. The symptoms can involve almost any organ system from respiratory tract, to digestive tract, to the eye and brain. While there are two common type of syndromes called the wet and dry form, depending upon whether there is fluid buildup in the chest or abdominal cavity, many cats can have combinations of these forms and/or varied symptoms.
Many years ago when a FIP vaccination was developed, many veterinary experts, including myself actually saw those cats develop worse disease upon exposure to the FIP corona virus, so that is one vaccination I certainly do not recommend. Despite decades of research, we still have very poor abilities at diagnosing this infection definitively. Even the newer FIP specific Elisa blood tests fall short from being ideal in diagnosing many cats and/or in ruling in or out this disease.
Definitive diagnosis in most cases still for the most part can only be done by biopsy of affected tissues or organs. The best advice I give my feline guardians is to raise their cats in as minimally stressful, natural ways as possible. If possible, feed a proper homemade meat based diet, or at least one of the better naturally preserved diets like Wysong or Pet Guard. Do not over vaccinate especially indoor cats, and also use excellent supplements like Vetri-DMG liquid, Soft Vitachews for Cats, as well as the supplement Transfer Factor to help bolster up the immune system of our feline friends, so as to lessen the likelihood of developing or contracting a virulent corona viral strain of FIP.