Our beloved cat may fall ill from time to time in his life. This is something completely natural and we should not worry excessively as long as we take him to the vet as soon as we notice the first symptoms. But there is a disease that is really serious, and it is Feline Infectious Peritonitis or FIP.
This is a health problem that, unless treated, can be life-threatening to the animal. Therefore, at Noti Cats we are going to explain everything you need to know about PIF in cats .
What is it?
FIP is a disease caused by the feline coronavirus, which directly attacks the animal’s immune system . If he is healthy and well fed, he can fight it without problem, but if he has a depressed immune system, whether due to a cold or the flu for example, the immune reaction is not what it should and then the virus can multiply rapidly. As a consequence, the blood vessels become inflamed.
How is it transmitted?
This disease is very common in stray cats and in cats that have access to the outdoors . But landlords who have had contact with a sick person can also become infected (as for example, it would happen if we took a sick adult kitten or cat that has been on the street inside the house).
The way in which the virus enters the animal’s body is by inhalation or ingestion of the pathogen , which is found in feces and on surfaces.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms will depend on the organs that are still affected and the form of the disease itself (acute or chronic). The symptoms of acute or wet form are:
- Swollen abdomen
- Trouble breathing
- Edema caused by fluid in damaged blood vessels
- Decreased lung capacity
The symptoms of the chronic or dry phase are:
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (mucous membranes turn yellow)
- Appearance of brown spots in the eyes
- Eye bleeding
- The iris changes color
- Lack of coordination in movements
In the event that the cat has one or more symptoms, it must be urgently taken to the vet .
How do you make the diagnostic?
Once at the veterinary clinic or hospital, the professional will do a biopsy and a blood test to assess the level of leukocytes and the AGP protein, the albumin: globulin ratio and the level of antibodies in the body against the coronavirus . Anyway, you have to know that unfortunately the definitive diagnosis is usually made after the death of the cat.
Which is the treatment?
Feline Infectious Peritonitis is an incurable disease . The animal may go through phases in which it is better and others in which it is worse, but the coronavirus will remain in its body throughout its life. Therefore, the treatment aims to alleviate the symptoms, thus allowing you to lead a better life, taking these measures:
- Providing a very nutritious diet, such as any quality feed that contains at least 70% meat and does not contain any type of cereal.
- Antibiotics: to prevent opportunistic infections.
- Antivirals: to reduce the viral load.
- Corticosteroids: to suppress the immune response of the feline.
- Anabolic steroids: to increase appetite.
Can it be prevented?
When we talk about such a serious disease, we always wonder if we can do something to prevent it. And the truth is that yes, but we have to bear in mind that we can never protect our cat 100%. Anyway, “something” is always going to be better than “nothing”, so these are the tips we offer you to prevent your furry friend:
- Vaccine: it is not a mandatory vaccine, but especially if you are going to have access to the outside it is important to get it.
- Avoid leaving the house: a cat can live perfectly without going out, as long as time is dedicated to it every day. It is normal for people who live in rural areas to let their animals go out for a walk, but to prevent them from falling ill the ideal is to have them at home 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Do not get cats together without having done the PIF test before:this is very, very necessary if you want to have two or more cats living in the same home. This disease is very contagious among felines: a single sick cat could infect the rest.
- Don’t adopt sick cats: I know, it sounds very harsh. But if we already have a cat living with us we don’t have to expose it, or else we would end up having two sick cats instead of one.
- Neutering him: if he is going to go outside, he must be castrated before he has the first heat. It is a way to prevent fights, infections, unwanted kittens and also reduces the chances of loss of the animal.
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