Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal disease and is caused by the coronavirus (FCoV). FIP is a frequent disease and is more common in multi-cat households. Kittens and cats with weaker immune system are more exposed to contacting the virus.

Symptoms of FIP

FIP may be of two types: dry or non-effusive and wet or effusive feline infectious peritonitis. Both types of FIP will present clinical signs.

The wet or effusive form of feline infectious peritonitis occurs in 75% of the cats with FIP. The signs of wet FIP include:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss, caused by lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Discolored gums, caused by anemia
  • Pot bellied appearance
  • Breathing difficulties, if fluid is accumulated in the chest area

The dry or non-effusive FIP is less frequent than the wet FIP. The dry FIP presents clinical signs such as:

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Neurological signs
  • Anemia

If the granulomas affect the central nervous system there will also be symptoms such as:

  • Confusion
  • Lack of balance
  • Paralysis
  • Incontinence
  • Behavioral changes
  • Convulsions

In some cases, none of these symptoms will occur.

Diagnosing FIP

FIP may be diagnosed by running several tests, the most important being the antibody to the coronavirus test.

Other test results that indicate the presence of FIP are:

  • Low white blood cell count in the initial stages of the disease
  • Low lymphocyte count
  • Elevated blood globulins
  • Elevated creatinine, if the kidney is affected
  • Elevated liver enzymes, in case the liver is affected
  • Increase in serum protein

FIP Treatment

There is no discovered cure for feline infectious peritonitis. Typically, infected cats die.

The treatment may prolong and improve the quality of the cat’s life. The treatment includes a periodical draining of the accumulated fluids in the chest or abdomen, a supervised nutrition, fluid therapy and blood transfusions for anemia.

Antibiotics may be administrated to manage secondary infections.


FIP is not a treatable condition. The treatment may lengthen the cat’s life.

Generally, cats affected by the dry form of FIP may survive for up to 1 year after the first signs occur. Cats with wet peritonitis may die in the first 2 months after the occurrence of the infection.

Ways of Transmission

The coronavirus is present in the saliva and the feces of an infected cat.

The FIP virus is transmittable from cat to cat and the most common way of transmission is through feces or litter. However, the virus may be transmitted through food and water bowls, through pet bedding or through birth from mother to kitten.

The virus may survive for up to 7 weeks in a favorable environment so; it is advisable to thoroughly clean your home after hosting an infected cat. Use disinfectants or diluted bleach.

There is one vaccine that is supposed to prevent FIP; however, its effectiveness is not yet proven.