Q: Is Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) contagious?
When people ask whether FIP is contagious, what they are really asking is whether this fatal disease can be transmitted from one kitty to cause fatal disease in another kitty. This is called "horizontal transmission." In that sense of the word "contagious," the answer is probably not. There is a single report of an outbreak of FIP in a Taiwanese shelter that appears to have been the result of horizontal transmission. Apart from that, there is no convincing evidence that horizontal transmission occurs.
In short, our best evidence at this point is that FIP is the result of mutations of FeCV, or feline enteric corona virus, that happens within an individual cat and is not transmissible to other cats.
Q: Why are there clusters of FIP cases in one home or shelter?
Typically these homes and shelters that experience multiple cases of FIP are homes and shelters with multiple kitties, including kittens. Kittens shed corona virus in exponentially higher quantities than adult cats, and they have immature immune systems. When you put these three things together--lots of corona virus, immature immune systems, and multiple kitties--you are more likely to see more cases of FIP.
Q: What can I do to minimize the chances of my cat developing FIP?
Having lots of kitties increases risk by increasing the potential for corona virus to be present in the environment, so having fewer kitties can minimize risk. This isn't always the case, though. Some kitties are what we call chronic shedders, and having a chronic shedder in your home means that coronavirus will always be there even if the chronic shedder is your only kitty.
Kittens shed lots of virus and have immature immune systems, so having kittens increases the risk that you will have FIP in your home. Try adopting an adult kitty if you're concerned about this.
There is evidence of a genetic predisposition, such that a litter mate of a kitten that dies of FIP is at higher risk than an unrelated kitten in the same home would be. You could try not to adopt litter mates.
Unfortunately, the only way you can be sure you will never have a kitty with FIP is to never have a kitty, and that's not a good solution, so do what you can to minimize risk but know that it's always possible to lose a kitty to FIP. Hopefully someday this will not be the case.
Q: What are the symptoms of wet FIP? Dry FIP?
Symptoms of FIP vary depending upon the strain of virus involved, the status of the cat's immune system, and the organs affected. There are two forms reported, including wet (effusive form), which targets the body cavities, and dry (non-effusive form), which targets the various organs. The wet form tends to progress more rapidly than the dry form, In either case, the body condition suffers, with the hair coat becoming rough and dull, and the cat becoming increasingly lethargic and depressed.
Persistent and unresponsive feverLack of appetiteWeight loss (gradual)Poor appetiteDiarrheaGradual swelling of abdomen (potbellied appearance)Accumulation of fluid in the chest cavityDifficulty breathingSneezing, runny noseLethargy
Poor growth in kittensAnemiaJaundiceDiarrheaFeverDepressionInflammation of various parts of eyeNeurological symptoms (e.g., loss of ability to coordinate movements, loss of vision)
Q: Does spaying/neutering kittens cause FIP?
ZenByCat is a 501(3)c nonprofit whose mission is to show how living with cats improves both human and feline lives and to raising both awareness and money to find a cure for Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
We wish to reach all the cat lovers of the world and inspire each to give to FIP Research, even if the amount is a single dollar. All funds raised go equally to SOCKFIP.org and The Bria Fund associated with the Winn Feline Organization. No donated money is used for our cats, no one in our non-profit is paid, and all costs for building and expanding our website are donated by me. If you would like to know more about our organization and how we administer our funds, please contact me at peter [at] zenbycat [dot] org. Join us in the fight against this deadly disease! If you have found this site to give you joy or support, please GIVE TO FIP RESEARCH now.