Our beloved cat may fall ill from time to time throughout his life. This is 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, in Noti Gatos we are going to explain to you everything you need to know about PIF in cats.
Table of Contents
What is it?
The PIF 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 sickness it 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 that 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 the 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
- Weight loss
- Jaundice (mucous membranes turn yellow)
- Appearance of brown spots in the eyes
- Eye bleeding
- The iris changes color
- Lack of coordination in movements
In case the cat has one or more symptoms you have to urgently take him to the vet.
How do you make the diagnostic?
Once at the veterinary clinic or hospital, the professional do a biopsy and a blood test to assess the level of leukocytes and AGP protein, the albumin: globulin ratio and the level of antibodies in the body against the coronavirus. In any case, it is necessary to know that unfortunately the definitive diagnosis is usually made after the death of the cat.
Which is the treatment?
Feline Infectious Peritonitis it 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 you with a very nutritious diet, as can be any quality feed that contains at least 70% meat and does not contain any type of cereal.
- Pharmaceutical products:
- 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 keep 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 one:
- 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.
- Prevent him from going out of 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 gather cats 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.
- Do not 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.
- Castrate him: If he is going to go out, he must be castrated before he has the first heat. It is a way to prevent fights, infections, unwanted kittens and, also, the chances of loss of the animal are reduced.
I hope this article has been useful to you 🙂.