FIP is not a contagious disease!

If your family includes cats or you know someone who lives with cats, please read this. I’m wandering back to the side of western medicine but this is a topic dear to my heart.

When I was working at the shelter I once got a voice mail from a client who had adopted a cat from us who came down with FIP and died. She was calling because she was angry that we had not tested for it and mentioned that her vet was recommending she euthanize her other two cats because they had been exposed and would most certainly come down with it and die. Of course I couldn’t get a hold of her and two of us spent the rest of the day frantically trying to reach her before she killed her two other cats. Luckily we did reach her in time.

FIP or Feline Infectious Peritonitis is one of the most misunderstood diseases in veterinary medicine. It is not contagious but it is a mutation of a contagious disease. It can not be diagnosed in a living cat yet there is a “FIP test”. There is a vaccine but it doesn’t work in most cats and there is some thought that it can actually help to induce FIP.

So let’s start at the beginning.

There is a virus in cats called Feline Coronavirus. This virus usually doesn’t cause illness or if it does just a little diarrhea or intestinal inflammation. It targets only gut cells. It is very common. Up to 80% of cats have been exposed to it and show an antibody titer. In multiple cat households and shelters and catteries up to 100% of cats have been exposed to it.

Sometimes for reasons that we do not know this virus mutates or changes into FIP, kind of like what happened to the Gremlins when they got wet. We think it is related to a weak immune system but we aren’t sure. FIP can attack any cells in the body by working through the white blood cells and it does, causing many symptoms such as a bloated and fluid filled abdomen, diarrhea, vomiting, a fever, lethargy, poor appetite, problems breathing and sometimes brain inflammation. Almost all cats with FIP die.

Occasionally two cats from the same household die of FIP. We used to think one had caught FIP from the other. However recently when researchers have studied where the mutation is in the virus they have found that the mutation will be different in each cat.

What does this mean?

It means that each mutation happened independently within that cat’s body. If they were passing the mutated FIP virus the mutation would be the same in each animal. This means that the FIP virus is not being passed once it mutates and is not contagious.

Why are cats is multiple cat households more likely to get FIP then?

Multiple cat households have a higher rate of coronavirus in them. The more coronavirus shed in a cat’s feces and picked up by other cats, the greater the chance there is for a mutation to FIP.

So how does a vet test for FIP?

There is a titer test called the FIP test. The only problem is that it tests for coronavirus not for FIP. Usually cats with FIP will have a high coronavirus titer but not always. And many cats without FIP will have a high titer. So a positive “FIP test” may point towards a diagnosis of FIP but also may not.

If a cat comes in with fluid in its abdomen which is common in FIP cats, the best test is a protein ratio run on the abdominal fluid. Most vets will also run bloodwork to test protein levels.

A high protein level in abdominal fluid with a low albumin/globulin (two proteins we look at) ratio with a high globulin level on bloodwork, and a high FIP/corona titer (positive FIP test) usually point towards FIP. That is the closest we can come. And many cats with FIP do not have all the above.

So why is there a vaccine if this is not a contagious disease?

The short answer is because we used to think it was. The FIP vaccine will work to prevent coronavirus in about 60-80% of the 20% of cats that have not been exposed to coronavirus ever. Or about 12-16% of cats. It will not work if cats have been exposed to coronavirus. In addition there is some thought that if the cat has coronavirus in its body the vaccine could induce that coronavirus to mutate to FIP. So the vaccine works in 12-16% of cats but may actually induce disease in the ones it doesn’t work for. Hmmm. Not very good odds if you ask me.

There is no good treatment for FIP beyond supportive care and most cats with it will die within a year or often times much less. In multiple cat households cleanliness, especially of litter boxes, can help cut down on the level of coronavirus, which helps prevent FIP.

Here’s some interesting resources on FIP
Wikipedia article on Feline Infectious Peritonitis
FAB on FIP
Cornell Feline Health Center FIP

Comments are closed on this article. There are only so many ways I can say that FIP is not contagious. It is not.

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39 Responses to “FIP is not a contagious disease!”

  1. pamela Says:

    Since I rescue I have seen 3 cases in my rescue.. one was a kitten I rescued a few years ago. I was very concerned about it being contagious. Well no one else got it even its litter mates.

    I have a caretaker who brought in a “pregnant” cat and I took it in to be fixed, and it was a MALE, with a HUGE a belly well it was full of fluid. IT WAS FIP! He was put down, as he needed to be. I also got a very friendly male cat from the same site and he is at a local shelter and doing JUST fine.

    I worry more about distemper. That is devistating to me to deal with. Thanks for your information. It was very helpful.

  2. PD Says:

    I recently lost a kitten to FIP and have felt really guilty about it. I have an older cat and my worry is that she is a carrier and in turn got the kitten sick. Could this have been the case?

  3. Lena Says:

    Hi PD,
    There are no FIP carriers and FIP can not be passed from cat to cat. Please do not feel guilty about this. FIP is an unfortunate problem that happens in cats but it is not directly contagious from cat to cat.

  4. GDG Says:

    Our rescue cat was diagnosed FIP positive when we got her 2006 since we have 2 other cats so we board her at a relatives as advised by our vet due to the contagisnous of the disease. Another vet told us that FIP is not spread from cat to cat. Every time we ask the question is it or isn’t it, we get alternating answers. We would love to bring her home but are worried about the other 2, one is 18,almost 19 and the other is almost 3.

  5. Lena Says:

    Hi,
    I would question if your cat is actually FIP positive. Most positive cats do not live more than a year and I have never seen one live three years. A positive test or titer for FIP does not mean that your cat has FIP. Are you sure it was FIP and not FIV?

    Once again FIP is not contagious although multiple cat households have a higher rate of FIP because they have more coronavirus in the environment.

    I would highly encourage you to get a second opinion on your cat, if you have a center with internists in your area that might be the place to go. FIP can not be diagnosed without a biopsy, usually it is only confirmed after a cat is dead. Most of the time we can not confirm FIP in a living cat.

    What tests were used to confirm the FIP in your cat?

    I hope you can get all your kitties home together again:-) This should not be an issue if your cat has FIP, just make sure it isn’t FIV or FeLV first.

  6. Abby Says:

    Hello

    I have been researching like crazy on this cat disease! One of our “elderly” cats had been acting sickly, losing weight, excessive drooling, and licking itself bald in places. The vet checked her out and noticed ulcers on her gums. Apparently thats a common virus in cats. We treated her.

    When treatment ended her symptoms came back so this time we did blood work. Her titer was positive for the coronavirus but as your blog states that DOESNT mean she has FIP. She was negative for FIV and FeLV!

    Our vet already mentioned the potential vaccine for our other cats, against the cornavirus. But chances are they already have it. Further more as I read here it could make them develop FIP which would be an utter nightmare!

    It seems some vets may be very clueless indeed… and to mention FIP as a possibility… well its a possibility… but it may not be FIP at all! I hope she turns around soon! This posting has offered some relief and hope!

    We do have a multiple cat home (4 total) and the idea of losing all of them… I dont even want to imagine it!

  7. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    I’m glad you found this article helpful:-) Part of the reason I wrote it is to provide somewhere that people could find true information about this disease. I have found there is a lot of misunderstanding about this disease including from other veterinarians.

    From the symptoms you mention, seems unlikely that this is not FIP, although not impossible. Hopefully it isn’t and she will recover from her illness.

  8. Diane Says:

    My 9 year old cat, Yoda, was just diagnosed with FIP. I, too, was told to keep my other cats (I have 6) far away from Yoda. My question is, however, when an ultrasound was done the vet found masses in his liver and intestine. She said FIP can cause that as well. Is she right?

  9. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Diane,
    How was your cat Yoda diagnosed with FIP? Generally we can not make a definitive diagnosis of this disease unless you are doing a postmortem. Blood work is not diagnostic. Blood work with an analysis of abdominal fluid (if it is the wet form of FIP) can be highly suggestive although is not 100% diagnostic either.

    FIP can cause inflammation of internal organs that could look like masses on ultrasound. FIP does not cause cancer so if they are cancerous masses (which you would need to biopsy to determine) then that is a different problem or the primary FIP diagnosis could be wrong.

    So it could be FIP or not. Hard to tell without all the info. If you are in doubt I would encourage you to get a second opinion. If possible find a board certified internist in your area.

    Personally I would not worry about keeping the other cats away. I’m sure your whole herd carries coronavirus as multi-cat households do. You are at higher risk of FIP because of the multiple cats but Yoda having FIP will not change that.

    best wishes,
    Lena

  10. Jessee Says:

    Last week one of our Purebred Himalayan kittens, age 7 1/2 months old, started acting strangely. He was not eating, his mouth became ulcerated, he had loose bowels and he was lethargic. WE took him to the vet and the vet showed us his ears and gums were yellowish, indicative of a deteriorating liver. His abdomen was swollen too.
    We had him put down. The vet had first asked us what he’d gotten into. I thought about it but did not think of anything he was Directly exposed to, like bug spray, that could have done this. This week our deceased cat’s brother is starting to show the same symptoms but not advanced yet like his brother had been. I made him some cat food with real beef, Iams canned, 2 eggs and a Cat GOOD multi-vitamin, acidophalus and Vitamin C in it. He actually ate some. I do not know what will become of Buddy. We do have alot of cats here but they eat Well and get good Vitamins and Brewers yeast. I know alot about nutrition. I just do not know IF the first cat had FIP, and if he did, why do his brother’s symptoms mirror his?

  11. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Jessee,

    Hard to say if the first kitten had FIP or not. If he did sometimes you can get “outbreaks” of FIP among related kittens especially purebreds because they have a defect in their immune system or a weakened immune system that makes it more likely for the coronavirus to mutate.

    In all the studies I have seen the mutation is in a different place even when cats in the same household have FIP so it is not being passed between cats in it’s FIP form.

    I’m sorry you lost your little guy and I hope Buddy is able to pull through.

    best wishes,
    Lena

  12. Robyn Says:

    I have just had to have my very loved Kitty sent to Kitty heaven as she was so sick, and had suspected FIP. She had a few syptoms a year ago, and now she just got so sick that the vet felt is was best. We are devestated! She was 5 years old and was a rescue cat ay 3 weeks, has had a happy loving life but has never been completely healthy! My question is that my older cat, 20 years!!, shared a little tray for all these years, and the vet suggests that we dont get another kitten until old lady passes on, as there is a slight chance she may be infected as well. Do you think this is the case, and if so, how long do we need to wait before we can get another little one to love? Many thanks for a very interesting article.

  13. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Robyn,
    I am so sorry about your kitty.

    Since FIP is not contagious I would not worry about getting another cat.

    If your kitty died of FIP (which sounds like it is in question), then she would have been shedding corona virus at some point, but most cats shed corona virus at some point. It is only when the corona virus mutates in the body that you get FIP (many times this is in cats with weaker immune systems which it sounds like your kitty may have had). The FIP is not contagious. Sometimes we do see multiple cases of FIP in the same household. Usually these are multiple cat households (usually with many, many cats) that have a high level of corona virus being passed back and forth between the cats, a high level of stress, and many animals with weakened immune systems.

    The figures put the number of cats exposed to corona virus at about 80%. FIP happens in only a handful of these cats.

    I hope this helps
    best wishes,
    Lena

  14. Kristine Says:

    My 10 year old cat was recently diagnosed with FIP. He has had a fever that was non-responsive to antibiotics. I brought him to another vet for a second opinion who completed an xray and found that he had fluid around his lungs – yellowish in color and high in protein. Cancer tests came back negative. Bloodwork indicates certain things that could lead us to think FIP but nothing really out of range or overly concerning. The current vet is sending him home tomorrow with some steroids and antibiotics to help him sustain and continue eating (he has been at the hospital since yesterday obtaining fluids and so forth so he is feeling a little better). Could this be anything else? Also I do have other cats anything I can do for them or anything to look for? Is it possible he was exposed to the Corona Virus from the other cats and it somehow mutated in his body? Also how could this happen now… I have had him for 10 years and the other cats for 10 and 4 years respectively. They hardly get outside and have not gotten outside for many years. Have you heard anything about interferon as a treatment option? ugh.. so devastated.

  15. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Kristine,
    I am sorry about your cat. I sounds likely to be FIP from what you describe but there is always a chance that it could be something else. We make a diagnosis based on many factors but it is usually not 100% definitive. Protein ratio on the fluids is the most diagnostic of the tests from my experience, which it sounds like they did run.

    Often times multiple cat households will cycle coronavirus back and forth for years. I have four cats and I am sure I have it in my house as well. If he has FIP he had coronavirus that did mutate in his body.

    I know some vets do use interferon. I would talk to your current vet about it. I have also found that acupuncture can slow the disease down so that is an option if there is a practitioner in your area.

    The best you can do for everyone else is to keep the litter boxes as clean as possible. They can not catch the FIP from him, the coronavirus would have to mutate in their body on its own. It is unlikely that you will end up with another FIP cat.

    I hope he does have something else.

    Thanks for your questions and hoping that his health takes a turn for the better.

    best wishes,
    Lena

  16. James Says:

    Hi,

    I have a six month old cat that has just been diagnosed with FIP. He has been started on Interferon treatment. As it is the holidays I have chosen to treat him at home.

    What I am concerned about is the effusion in his stomach. I asked the vet about draining it but she said that it would just fill up again. She suggests that should the drugs work the fluid will dissipate as part of that process. But I can’t see how that would work and would really like some further explanation. Would that be something that you could help me with?

    This is the second case of FIP that we have had in the last twelve months – we take in a lot of stray cats. Incidentally the first cat that died of FIP was named Lena.

    Cheers,
    James

  17. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi James,

    The problem with FIP is it causes a lot of inflammation in the body from the damage it does and your cat’s immune system responding to the virus. The fluid is a product of the inflammation so it is more of a symptom then a problem within itself.

    Usually we will only drain it if it is in the chest/lungs and interfering with breathing. No matter where the fluid is it will come back as long as there is still inflammation there (usually within a day or two of draining it) The inflammation will have to go down in order for the fluid to leave permanently. If the inflammation goes down the fluid will get reabsorbed by the body, so there is no reason to drain it.

    Vets usually use interferon and/or steroids to attempt to reduce the inflammation. FIP is a hard disease to work with and unfortunately carries a poor prognosis.

    I am really sorry that you have had two kitties with FIP. It is definitely more of a problem in multiple cat households because of the increase in corona virus being shed.

    I am sorry about your Lena and I hope that this little one somehow has something else besides FIP.
    My thoughts are with you.
    best wishes,
    Lena

  18. Danielle Thomson Says:

    Hello,

    I am looking for some advise, I really hope someone can advise me. I lost my beloved kitten a few days ago to suspected FIP. I got her when she was about 8 weeks old and at around 16 weeks we decided to get her a little friend as we didnt like leaving her on her own. We got another little kitten around 12 weeks old from a cat shelter. Around a week after having the 2 cats, they got on really well, our older cat even cleaning the little one, the little cat from the shelter starting experiencing symptoms of the flu. I took her back to the lady I got her from and she perscribed me some antibiotics that I could give her twice a day to fight the flu. I also spent time giving her water and cat milk through a pippet as she refused to drink and force fed her as she refused to eat. After around 4-5 days she get better and started eating on her own. In this time our older cat started to show signs of the flu, I gave her some of the antibiotic and fed and watered her every hour as I did with the other cat. After about 2 days her condition started to worsen, her eyes were not focusing, she was off her feet and lost her balance and she started to wee herself. I took her down to the vets who told me that she had very little chance of surviving, he gave her an injection of amoxycillin and said that if she didnt look better within a day to bring her back to the vets. I waited and she seemed to deteriorate more over night. I staryed with her and continued to try and make her as comfy as possible but she seems in so much pain :( I arranged that same day to take her to the vets. It was confirmed that she had FIP and she needed to be put down. I am so so devastated.
    I have since had my little kitty stay with the lady at the animal shelter as she is looking after her until she regains her strength and is well enough to come home as I cant risk leaving her as I work in the day. I am terrified now as I am worried she has the diesease. I have been researching this horrible diesease for hours and keep getting mixed answers on it being contagious. Please can someone help me?
    I need to know if firstly, it is safe to bring my little one back home, it has been around 2 weeks now since they were both in the environment? I need to know if there is any chance of her catching the virus of any of the bedding or the carpet?
    And secondly, if it is safe for me to get another kitty? I want another friend for her but Im worried this will get passed on?
    Im not sure if the kitten I got from the rescue center initally gave my Lilly the FIP, I believe what happened was she came into the home carrying the coronavirus and shed it, Lillys immune system became weak when she got the flu and this then mutilated into FIP, please could someone let me know if this sounds correct?
    I am desperate to bring my little cat home as it is so lonely without them both, but I am so worried as I cant cope with her getting this horrific diesease too.

    Pllleeeaaaaseeee help :(

    Thank You xxx

  19. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi,
    I’m so sorry about you Lilly.

    From your description it makes me wonder if both kittens had something more along the lines of panleukopenia (i.e. feline distemper) . Coronavirus does not usually cause illness on it’s own or only very, very mild illness. And if the little kitty had FIP she would not get better.

    Since FIP can not be diagnosed from a test, it is possible that it wasn’t FIP that your kitten who died had. There is a FIP titer test but you can not diagnose FIP from it.

    I would be more concerned that this was some other illness. If your other little one is getting better she should be fine but I would probably wait at least a month to get another kitten and try to bleach the things in your environment that you can just in case this wasn’t FIP.

    FIP is not contagious so if it was definitely FIP (which they would have had to do a biopsy after death to determine) you don’t have any worries.

    I just am concerned it might have been something else.

    There is a good link to the Cornell U data sheet at the end of my article to read which may also help you.

    best wishes and I am sorry for your loss.
    Lena

  20. Amanda Says:

    Hi there,

    I’m hoping maybe I can get some advise regarding my cat and this disease.

    Starting from the beginning – My cat Misato is a naturally very tiny cat. She was a stray at my grandmother’s and rescued. The person who caught her wasn’t all that brilliant with caring for her, and felt it was best to lock in her in a bathroom with no human contact so the other 20+ cats this woman had wouldn’t harm her. I brought her home immediately after seeing the condition she was in, regardless of already owning 3 older male cats at the time. Needless to say, she was horribly traumatized.

    After a couple days of having her, I had taken her to the vets obviously to get checked over. When they went to give her needles, they noticed she had a fever and figured it was best not to give them to her. It was never said what was wrong with her, but it didn’t look good. The student just told me it was a 50/50 chance she’d make it past the weekend. She refused to eat or drink anything, so I spoon fed her. By the end of the weekend she had a full recovery. The cat who wouldn’t let me near her & only put up with the fact I was spoon feeding her, realized I cared for her and I’ll never forget her coming over to me and giving me the biggest cat kiss on the lips ever!

    Shortly after that, maybe a few weeks, I noticed her sides were getting quite large and for such a small cat it was obviously noticeable. A “friend” kept telling me “oh she’s got a tumour and is gonna die” …umm thanks. I thought maybe she was just gaining weight, as she didn’t seem to be in any pain at all and there was no mood change. I cut out her wet food and she went back to normal. This happened again a couple years later, but again I did the same as before, and she went back to her skinny little self.

    In the meantime, we lost our second oldest male cat to cancer. He had a tumour too large in his stomach to remove. At this same time the youngest male started peeing everywhere. At first it was a tract infection and he stopped. But then it started again..And there was no infection. A year later our oldest male, my cat, got his head caught in a door. He later developed a lump on his neck, which did go away. But it eventually came back and turned out to be a different kind of cancer. The youngest again was still peeing everywhere and we had done everything we could for him. It eventually came down to giving him to a family friend who has a farm, which we did in September and he’s doing great.

    Getting back to Misato. She’s been doing great as well. She’s very attached to me, and doesn’t quite like other people near her. She’s 4.5 years now and typically she’s always weighed 4-5 pounds. It was an odd thing to see at first, but I’ve actually seen/heard of alot of cats like her recently. Life for her has gotten slightly more stressful as I had a baby 5 months ago. She’s adjusted very well, but though she shows no signs I don’t doubt she’s stressed.

    Personality, mood, behaver, playfulness, appetite, cat box habits, fur, eyes, movement, everything has been completely normal and no signs of pain or discomfort. I stayed at my grandmother’s after having the baby, and during that time my grandmother spoiled Misato rotten. Giving her treats constantly. When we came back to my mom’s it was even worse. My mom was feeding her wet food 2-3 times a day along with her dry food which I don’t do (since she gained weight from it in the past). On top of that she became a bit more greedy with the treats and begging for them more often. Around Christmas we started noticing her throwing up more often, which for her to do was very unusual. She almost never throws up. Given that my oldest male had been quite the little pig and would gobble down food only to throw it back up, I figured with her it was likely the same. We noticed that her abdomen was growing quite a bit, which I figured was because of all the food my mother was giving her. Of course despite what I’d tell her, she continued to feed it to Misato.

    Finally today we decided to take her to the vets. After having cats die of cancer, I didn’t wanna risk not knowing if she’s just fat or if it’s something more. After some quick feeling around and a quick discussion of recent history (since she was last there in July), she told us she figured it’s FIP before even doing any tests. She took Misato to the back room, saying she was gonna drain some fluid and do some blood work. After a few minutes she came back with the fluid and said it’s FIP. She told us straight out that she’s not going to do blood work and there’s no need to test anything else, that by just feeling her and looking at this fluid she knew it was FIP. My mom and I asked a couple questions but never enquired about further testing or x-rays. The vet drained a cup worth of fluid off of her.

    I’m determined to help her. And obviously like most people I’ve been looking online. After reading this and everything else I’ve seen, should we have insisted on further testing? Is it really that easy to just feel a cat, look at some fluid without actually testing it and knowing 100% for sure this is FIP? Or should I consider getting a second opinion at another vet?

    To be completely honest, there’s nothing wrong with the vet I go to, but they’ve always made me feel a little nervous. When we had taken my oldest there, the same vet told us he was completely healthy and he only had a salitory gland issue which is usually only seen in dogs. Another time she was insisting on a tumour, which another vet (without even seeing him mind you) told us it was a massive hairball. So I mean, would seeing a completely different vet be a good idea?

    The thing that confuses me so much, is that I’ve seen Misato this way before. Her sides get huge, but the rest of her stays skinny. You can even still feel her bones. But she’s always been healthy.
    That’s something else the vet said that bothered me…. She said Misato has always been a sickly cat. …That’s the complete opposite of what she told me in July. In fact, she was the vision of perfect health then, and weighting 4.5 pounds for her size was ideal. It’d be different if I was seeing different vets and they told me different things, but it’s always been the same one..

    Anyways, at this point I’m ranting and I apologize. I hope I’ve said enough to give you an idea about her, and I hope you’ll be able to give me even a little advice.

    Thank you!
    Amanda

  21. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Amanda,
    There is no definitive test for FIP in a cat who is living. So there is no way that your vet can know for sure this is FIP. Usually we look at blood work, fluid protein ratios and clinic signs and then say I think this is FIP.

    Anytime you get a serious diagnosis it is always good to get another opinion. If you have a board certified veterinary internist in your area it would be worth a trip to them.
    best wishes,
    Lena

  22. Emilie Says:

    Hi Lena-

    We just lost our sweet like 4.5 month old kitten, Chuck, to suspected FIP on Monday night. We found out shortly after adopting her and her sister Penny that one of their other sisters had just passed away from FIP. We still have her sister Penny who is thriving, energetic, eating a ton and crazy like a kitten should be. Is there a higher chance of her developing FIP down the line since 2 of her siblings passed away from it?

    Also, we want to get Penny a new friend, but we worry that if she is carrying the virus that she could potentially infect the kitten that we bring into the house. What are your thoughts? Thank you.

    -Emilie

  23. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Emilie,
    I am sorry about your Chuck. It is so sad to lose them at such a young age.

    There is thought that there may be a genetic predisposition to what ever happens in the body which allows coronavirus to mutate FIP. We do not know for sure. So it may be that Penny is slightly more prone to getting FIP if she has had two sisters die of it. Most FIP we see in young or very old cats so if she can make it to her first or second birthday the risk goes way down.

    I would not worry about getting a second kitten for Penny. The FIP virus is not contagious only the coronavirus that mutates to cause it. Many kittens have been exposed to coronavirus or carry it for awhile.

    I hope that Penny ends up doing fine. The odds are definitely in her favor since FIP is not that common a disease.

    Thank you for your questions and I am sorry for your loss.
    -lena

  24. Natasha Maylie Says:

    Hello,
    I am also in need of some advise. I have a cat named Pooh who is about 1 & 1/2 old (still a baby). She was recently diagnosed with FIP becasue of her symptoms such as, poor balance, diarrhea, problems with her eyes, swollen intestines, signs of neurological problems, as well as they did a test on a tissue sample that they had from a previous test. My question is that Pooh just had kittens, and she became ill shortly after having the kittens so I had to bottle feed them, and she nursed on occasion. The kittens are about 6 weeks old and are just about ready to go to their new homes. What are the chances that these kittens will also develop FIP and become fatally ill? I would feel terrible giving these kittens to friends and family if there is a chance they will get sick and die in a year like Pooh. What should I do? Should I still give them away to friends and family? It would be terrible to see my friends and family go through the same heart ache that I did with Pooh.

    Thank you for your help,
    Natasha Maylie

  25. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    In my opinion I do not believe that these kittens have any greater chance of getting FIP then kittens from shelters or other muliti cat environments. I would happily adopt a kitten from a mother with FIP (if I needed another kitten) without worrying.
    Hope this helps
    best wishes,
    Lena

  26. woody Says:

    Are you 100% sure that humans (especially babies) can not get FIP from cats? Is there any catborn diesease that I should be worried about that a human-baby could get?

  27. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    FIP and feline coronavirus are cat only diseases. You should talk to your vet or doctor about other diseases if you are concerned.

  28. Tammy Says:

    Hello Lena,

    I recently lost two Cornish Rex cats to FIP (or what we think was FIP). The first one, Aston, died over a year ago from the ‘wet’ version – he had swelling in his abdomen and all the normal symptoms. We assumed his littermate and brother, Bentley, also had it. Bentley survived another year, but also died with a swollen abdomen and extreme anemia. The vet told us he had the ‘dry’ version. That was in June.

    We are getting two new Cornish Rex kittens next week. I did throw out all of Aston and Bentley’s items: cat towers, litter boxes, toys, dishes, cat carrier, and purchased new items. Now my husband wants me to get the carpets steam-cleaned. According to your article, that doesn’t seem necessary to me. We get them cleaned once a year anwyay. Is there anything I can do to further protect the new kittens? This breeder is very reputable (Aston and Bentley came from a pet store) and the kittens are tested for FIP.

    I just don’t want to witness what poor Aston and Bentley went through again.

    Thanks,
    Tammy

  29. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Tammy,
    I’m sorry about your two little guys. So hard:-( It does seem like there is a genetic reason in some cats that they are more likely to have a mutation of coronavirus but it is so difficult to loss two.

    First there is no test for FIP so if she says they are being tested for FIP she is either not telling you the truth or she is confused. You can do a coronavirus titer which some people refer to as a FIP test for it doesn’t prove FIP or lack of FIP just tests for a titer to coronavirus.

    The best thing you can do to prevent FIP is to keep things as clean as possible. If these two little new kittens are shedding coronavirus the less they are exposed to the less likely that they will have a mutation to FIP. Of course many cats are exposed to large amounts of coronavirus without getting FIP. I don’t know off hand if Rexs are more prone to mutations in coronavirus to FIP then other breeds. Coronavirus should not be able to survive in carpet for long so I don’t see any reason to clean the carpets.

    Enjoy your new little ones. I hope they have long good health!
    best wishes,
    Lena

  30. June Quinn Says:

    Hi Lena

    I have just lost my beautiful Ragdoll Vince 18 months old to FIP. I am sure that it was FIP as he had an autopsy performed and they confirmed the diagnosis. I have another Ragdoll who is about six years old and initially I was beside myself that he would also catch it and die. After reading much literature I am less afraid that he is in danger but have another couple of issues I would like to talk about. The first being the fact that when I phoned the breeder to inform them I was told that another kitten from the same litter had died of FIP, she was going to contact the other owners to see if there were any more, is it common for several kittens from the same litter to get FIP does this mean that it is genetic in any way? Also I was very unhappy with my Vet who had no idea what was wrong with my cat and could not tell the difference between an enlarged lymph node which was what he had and a blockage which he did unneccesary surgery to remove but which did not exist and I had to end up going elsewhere where an ultrasound and blood tests were done and a probable diagnosis made which is when I decided not to put him through any more and put him down. I guess my question is, surely vets would be familiar with this disease, it is well documented, how could they get it so wrong?

  31. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    June,
    I am so sorry about your Vince. While FIP is not contagious there does seem to be a genetic component to which cats are more prone to the mutation which is why we sometimes see it in cats related to each other. It is also more common in cats from catteries and shelter where there is a large number of cats potentially shedding coronavirus (which is necessary because it is what mutates). FIP can look like a lot of other illnesses so it is common for vets to not recognize it esp since there is not a definitive test for it in a living cat. I’m sorry you had to go through so much with Vince. Often times if I suspect FIP I want to rule everything else out because I would hate to miss something treatable. FIP is one of the most misunderstood diseases out there and I still think there is much to learn about it.

    best wishes,
    Lena

  32. Laura Says:

    We recently fostered a litter of kittens through a local shelter and 2 of them passed away – the vet did an autopsy and determined it was FIP. The other kittens in the litter slowly started passing away a couple of weeks a part and we are down to 3 out of the original 7 with all of them showing signs of FIP. The vet said there is nothing they can do and they are keeping them at the shelter. They said that it was passed to them from their mother – is that possible? I know it’s not a contagious disease but I was wondering if it can be passed from the mother to their offspring? I guess it would make sense since the entire litter appears to be infected. So tragic. :(

  33. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Laura,
    I’m sorry about your kittens – that is so difficult. The corona virus can be passed from the mother but not the FIP. It needs to mutate in each cat individually. Some cats genetically seem to be prone to this multation to FIP from coronavirus. It is not that the FIP virus passes it is that they are prone to mutate to FIP when they have the virus. Is it possible that there was another virus as well such as panleukopenia (feline distemper)? Usually we don’t see that many from the same litter come down with FIP that fast so it makes me wonder about other viruses or issues. To determine FIP for sure you need to seen is tissue biopsy samples to the lab (usually organs), if that was not done on all the kittens then most likely it was something else.
    -Lena

  34. Bonnie Says:

    Dr. McCullough,

    If you could answer my question I would be grateful beyond words as I am so torn right now. I have a multi cat household of rescues (9 in total). According to my vet one of my cats has recently developed some symptoms of FIP including positive coronavirus test, diarrhea, WBC of 39K and weight loss of half his starting weight (but was also just diagnosed with hyperthyroidism too). Some of my other cats have diarrhea as well but are otherwise healthy. My vet wants to put him through all sorts of tests such as x-rays, ultrasound and colonoscopy with biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. He says that all of this is necessary to protect my other cats as he says FIP is highly contagious. I really don’t want to do all of this to my poor little baby, going to the vet really traumatizes him plus he is geriatric and had a rough life before we got him and I just want to provide supportive measures and let him go in peace or euthanize when/if necessary. He is currently gaining his weight back and aside from the diarrhea has been acting like himself again. From all that I have read online FIP is NOT contagious and the chance that all of my other cats already have the coronavirus is pretty high anyway. So to me it seems there is no need to find out for sure if my one baby has FIP since there is no treatment beyond supportive measures. We are currently treating him with steroid shots as the only possible differential diagnosis is IBD which is treatable. The other possible diagnosis the vet presented us with is cancer and with this cat’s advanced age my husband and I feel that aggressive treatment would not be humane at this point. So my question is this, do we really need to do all this testing to find out for sure that this is FIP or can I just do what I’ve been doing which is provide supportive therapy for my sick one and increase the quality of high fiber food and give probiotics to my other cats as I have already been doing? Thank you for your time and please feel free to email me if any more information is needed at ifwedontwhowill@msn.com

  35. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    FIP is not contagious, coronavirus is but most likely they all have it. The tests you list will not tell you for sure if it is FIP. The most accurate test is a protein ratio from fluid (if this is the wet form) in the abdomen and a high globulin on blood work and even that is not 100%. I see no reason to do those tests to protect your other kitties. The only reason to do them is to try to diagnose what is happening with your cat and it sounds like you have made the decision to not put him through all of that. If he is gaining his weight back I doubt he has FIP, If you treat the thyroid disease a lot of what is going on might reverse, which may be what you are doing. The high WBC count also makes me think infection – if you haven’t explored that with your vet it may be something to discuss further. Cornell University has one of the best handouts on FIP, maybe you can pass it on to your vet, link in this article. There are many vets that do not understand that this disease is not contagious, that is why I wrote this article. When I was in school we still thought it was so if vets don’t keep up on CE for this disease they may be confused. So do what is in the heart and don’t worry about the others catching FIP. Hope this helps!
    best wishes,
    Lena

  36. Leah Says:

    I have a 5 month old kitten that I obtained from Petco when she was 10 weeks old. When I picked her up she had watery eyes and was sneezing. She was treated with meds but the sneezing persisted intermittently. The people from whom I adopted her told me to give her immune system a chance to fight it off. Eventually the sneezing resolved and I thought I had a playful, loving and very greedy cat. Last month we noticed a rice appearing substance around her bottom. I was given a dewormer (starts with a P) but ever since we gave her the meds she became extremely lethargic, now is not eating, sleeps all day, and has a distended abdomen. The vet 2 days ago drained a yellow substance from her abdomen and said this was FIP. Based on the symptoms and how she is acting this appears to be true, however, the information I have read thus far indicates that this is extremely hard to diagnose and would require blood test. My question is, is history and an examination of the abdominal fluid enough to diagnose? I don’t wany Zoe to suffer but I also want to be as sure as possible about my options. What testing should I have performed if any?

    Also, I read that cats shed the corona virus in the feces. Is it possible the cat could have shed the virus and then re-infected herself in the litter box?

  37. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Leah,
    There is no definitive test for FIP. Looking at abdominal fluid and finding a protein ratio on that fluid that supports FIP and having a high globulin on bloodwork indicates FIP in most cases. If she has FIP there is unfortunately no treatment that can cure it. It sounds like there is a good change she has FIP with that kind of fluid in her abdomen. FIP is from a mutation in the coronavirus so the FIP virus is not contagious in itself, just the coronavirus which most kittens/cats are exposed to so there is not an issue with her reinfecting herself or others. If they have not done routine blood work it may be a good idea to look for if there is a treatable issue causing the fluid in her abdomen, if they have not run a protein ratio on the abdominal fluid it might be worth having it seen to the lab for that test and other analysis.. If she has FIP, the upper respiratory infection she had and the tapeworms and medication for them are not related to it.

    I hope that it is not FIP but it sounds like it is a highly likely from the symptoms she has.

    Hope this helps
    best wishes,
    Lena

  38. June Quinn Says:

    Hi Leah my name is June I wrote to you on 6th August about my cat Vince passing away with FIP. I still have my other cat “Little One” who is about 6 years old and is not showing any signs of illness. We have been considering getting another kitten and my daughter’s friend has just had a litter – not pure breds. We have not had Little One tested for Corona virus because I did not see the point. My vet told me we should not get any new pets as this might stress him and the stress might cause FIP if he had the virus. He did get quite stressed when we got Vince. He also said we should not immunise him or put him in a cattery or do anything that could cause the virus to mutate. Do you agree with this? We would very much like another cat as we have always had two and I am worried about not immunising him against diseases as we don’t even know he has corona virus?

  39. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi June,
    Since most cats have coronavirus or have been exposed to it I would not worry about this. Most cats have or have had coronavirus, much less than 1% get FIP so not a big risk. If you haven’t read my article on cat vaccination you may want to http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2009/01/27/to-vaccinate-or-not-to-vaccinate-that-is-the-question-part-1-cats/ . Personally I wouldn’t hesitate in getting another cat. The risk of FIP for Little One in my opinion and experience is no greater than any other cat out there.
    best wishes,
    Lena