Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Symptoms Of Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Feline Infectious Peritonitis or FIP is a unique viral disease found only in cats. The way that this virus operates in the animal’s body is unique. It is totally unlike the behavior of any other viral agent. I will however give more of a layman’s explanation of the workings of feline infectious peritonitis later. The symptoms of this nearly always fatal cat illness may not always be obvious. Even established blood test cannot accurately diagnose its presence in an infected host. By the time a cat does exhibit symptoms they may appear to be sudden (out of nowhere). This is because cats have a propensity to bear stress and illness right up until the critical phase. However when the virus has taken a hold the effects can be quite distressing. A bloated abdomen or chest, due to a buildup of fluid. Drastic loss of weight coupled with a poor appetite may also indicators of this illness. Fever and lethargy along with depression may also be apparent. However such symptoms are common in many other feline conditions. The vagueness of these indicators only adds to the difficulty in making an assessment and accurate diagnosis.
How Is Feline Infectious Peritonitis spread?
The feline infectious peritonitis is in fact the end result of a strain of viruses termed as “coronavirus’s.” Most of these viruses do not cause any disease in the cat because the animal’s antibodies kick in. This serves to suppress the infecting agent. Furthermore it is unlikely that the cat will display any signs of illness during this period. However in a small percentage of the feline population (around 8%) feline infectious peritonitis does occur. This is either because the virus itself mutates or the cat’s normal immune system malfunctions. At this stage the cats own protection system turns against itself by inserting the virus into its white blood cells. They are then carried around the body triggering a massive inflammatory reaction. This is often around the cells of the kidneys, abdomen and brain. Unfortunately the end result is almost always fatal. As mentioned earlier this interaction between the cats own immune system and the virus is unique amongst all other living organisms on the planet.
Is Your Cat AT Risk From Feline Infectious Peritonitis?
Obviously most cats will at some point be carriers of one of these corona viruses. That in itself could put them at risk of developing feline infectious peritonitis. The most at risk to the disease are those with weak immune systems such as kittens and cats suffering from feline Leukemia symptoms. In fact the majority of animals that develop the full blown disease are under 2 years of age. However, cats of any age are susceptible to the virus. The good news is that virus is not highly contagious due mainly to only small amounts of it being shed once a cat develops the illness. It is however present in larger numbers in the feces and saliva during the acute infection stage. Most of the infected animals are a result of mothers passing it onto their kitten’s around7 weeks of age. Its also worthy to note that the disease is far more prevalent among cat colonies than in the domestic cat population. Readers will find a more detailed explanation about feline infectious peritonitis here should they be interested.