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Feline Infectious Peritonitis
FIP, or Feline Infectious Peritonitis, is disease caused by
a virus called Feline Corona virus. There are many strains
of this virus and most do not cause obvious illness. Cats
that become infected with FIP generally do not show any
symptoms initially, but if the virus develops into clinical
FIP it is called FIPV or Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus
and is usually fatal.
This mutated virus infects the white blood cells of the cat
and uses them to transport the virus throughout the body.
This causes an inflammatory response in the body around the
blood vessels and in the tissues where the infected white
blood cells are located, often the kidneys, brain or
This disease is almost always fatal as the immune system of
the cat essentially fights itself. It is also systemic,
meaning that it affects all parts of the cat and there isn't
a way to treat the disease. This disease is unique to cats
and is immune-mediated, unlike other diseases found in
If you cat has been infected with the Corona virus the
chances of it developing FIPV are higher. However if your
cat has a healthy immune system it is a lot less likely for
the FIPV to ever develop into a disease even if the cat is
infected with the virus. The most common transmission of the
disease is from the mother cat to her kittens, but this
virus is highly infectious and is shed in saliva, feces and
Symptoms generally include anemia, depression, chronic
weight loss and a persistent fever that does not respond to
antibiotic treatment. The more chronic form of the disease
can cause symptoms of accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
Early in the disease the cat may exhibit symptoms including
weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. If a cat
has the wet form of the disease it often becomes severely
ill very quickly, and the cat may quickly look pot-bellied
because of fluids collecting in its abdomen. When there is a
large fluid accumulation it may be very hard for the cat to
Feline Infectious Peritonitis can be hard for a veterinarian
to diagnose because individual cats may have different
symptoms, and the symptoms of FIPV are similar to those of
many other diseases. There are many tests that must be
performed to diagnose FIPV. As stated, there is no cure of
this disease and is almost always fatal.
The Cornell Feline Health Center and FIP
We have worked diligently for over 20 years to develop an effective
vaccine as well as diagnostic tests that will be more useful in diagnosing FIP
in sick cats and in identifying the FIP-virus- carrier state in healthy cats.
are also studying the disease process itself (i.e., how the virus replicates
the cat, and why the cells normally responsible for protection against
infection do not destroy the virus). That work may lead to more-effective
treatments for FIP.
Prepared by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the
Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell University, College of Veterinary
Medicine, Ithaca, New York 14853-6401.
The ultimate purpose of the Feline Health Center is to improve the health of
cats by developing methods to prevent or cure feline diseases and by
providing continuing education to veterinarians and cat owners.
Much of that work is made possible by the financial support of friends.
©1996 by Cornell University. All rights reserved. Cornell University is an
equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer.
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