fip in cats

Feline infectious peritonitis: could your cat have FIP?

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a serious condition that’s often fatal in cats. Fortunately, the disease is extremely rare, with an infection rate of around one in every 5,000 cats.

FIP is caused by the mutation of a feline coronavirus. This is when a relatively common virus that usually causes very few symptoms spontaneously turns into an FIP virus. This FIP virus then goes on to spread throughout the cat’s immune system and cause severe clinical signs.

Identifying the signs and symptoms of FIP

Vets categorise FIP into two types: wet and dry. The symptoms of both types of FIP in cats commonly include:

  • Lethargy
  • Fever that doesn’t respond to antibiotics
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Wet FIP also causes fluid retention in the stomach, chest, or both. Fluid in the chest often leads to difficulty breathing, while fluid in the stomach can cause the abdomen to bloat.

Dry FIP can cause inflammatory lesions to form in the cat’s vital organs. If these affect the kidneys, they can cause vomiting, as well as excessive thirst and urination. If they affect the liver, this can go on to cause jaundice. Dry FIP can also affect your cat’s eyes and nervous system.

Is my cat at risk from FIP?

Most cases of FIP occur in younger cats with weak, underdeveloped immune systems, but cats of all ages, breeds and genders are at risk.

Treating feline infectious peritonitis

There is no known cure for FIP, and the condition is fatal in almost all cases. FIP is quick to progress, with most cats diagnosed with wet FIP dying or being put to sleep within two months of first displaying symptoms.

Your vet may recommend drugs to alleviate the symptoms and make your cat more comfortable, but in most cases euthanasia is the best way to prevent your cat from suffering.

“FIP is caused by the mutation of a feline coronavirus – a relatively common infection in cats that usually causes very few symptoms.”

Want advice on FIP in cats?

For expert advice on feline infectious peritonitis get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.