Frequently asked questions.
Hello, my name is Professor Wills and most likely you already saw me in other pages. I was named Wills as a way to remember and honor the will to live all FIP cats have. They all are lions within cats’ bodies, bravely fighting this vile virus and dreadful disease and fiercely loved by their human families. We know you have questions, and we tried to answer them all. However, if you cannot find an answer, feel free to contact us here.
In natural circumstances, cats go outside to defecate and bury their feces, in which case the virus last hours to days (it survives slightly longer in freezing conditions). However, in domesticating the cat, we introduced litter trays, FCoV may persist for several days and possibly up to 7 weeks in dried-up feces in cat litter.
FCoV is shed in the feces thus the main area of contamination will be the litter tray(s), so clean and disinfect it thoroughly with household bleach and hot (boiling) water. Remember that microscopic particles of infected, dried up litter, could have been blown around the house or taken into other room on feet/shoes, so please do a thorough and detailed vacuuming. Toys, scratching posts and dishes you do not want to discard, should be thoroughly washed in hot water and soap and rinsed in a 1:32 dilution of water and bleach. Porous objects that can’t be adequately cleaned should be discarded.
Thankfully FCoV is a relatively fragile virus, and if you follow this advice, it is unlikely that your house will be infected for more than a few days. Normal exposure to air and sunlight will usually destroy coronaviruses within two weeks. That being said, it is recommended to wait at least a month and ideally seven weeks or more before introducing a new cat.
These recommendations assume you only have one cat (the one who died of FIP). If you have other cats, most likely they, too, will be infected and in addition to a detailed hygienic protocol, it is recommended you test them for FCoV antibodies every 3-6 months, keep them in small groups according their antibody titers and ONLY get a new cat when your remaining cats’ antibodies titers return to zero (you need to request an FCoV antibody test from a reliable lab using 1:25 dilution or lesser).
Remember to test the new cat for FCoV antibodies too – the last thing you want is to re-introduce the problem thus minimizing the risk of multiple cases of FIP.
It is extremely unlikely that you could bring the virus home to your cats on your person unless you actually had infected feces on you. If you have touched another person’s cats, it is always a good idea to wash your hands before handling your own cats, but more because of feline calicivirus and other infections than because of FCoV.
FIP itself is not contagious, only FCoV.
There is no evidence to suggest that fleas could transmit FCoV but they do carry the infectious anemia organisms and tapeworms, so flea control is crucial.
No, kittens are not infected in utero. They are born feline coronavirus (FCoV) free and are protected by maternal antibodies from their mom’s milk until weaning (5-7 weeks of age) unless they don’t suckle or are orphans kittens being fostered.
This would be incredibly unlikely. FCoV is only shed in the saliva for very few days at the beginning of infection, and the vast majority of saliva samples tested for feline coronavirus were negative. In addition, kittens are protected by antibodies from their mother’s milk until they reach 6-7 weeks of age. After that time, if they are still in the company of their mother who is shedding FCoV, then they will be exposed to the billions of particles of virus which will be in the litter tray(s).
FIP is not a hereditary disease – it is a viral disease. Quite simple, cats who are never exposed to feline coronavirus will never develop FIP, no matter what their DNA or genes say about it. NO FCoV = NO FIP.
Is it worth doing the FIP susceptibility generic test which is offered by some laboratories?
While there is some evidence that susceptibility to FIP can be inherited, it has been recently recognized just how small part genes and “genetic susceptibility” really play in the disease: some epigeneticists put it as low as 5%.
If you are planning to buy a pedigree kitten, and this question really worries you, there are other more effective and less expensive means to address it: research the specific breed you are interested in and the collected data (which could be limited) about its susceptibility to FIP, do your due diligence and only conduct business with reputable and responsible breeders and above all demand the kitten to be FCoV free (meaning no antibodies to feline coronavirus).
If the above is not enough, you may consider the interferon gamma (IFNy) gene test offered by some specialty laboratories which could be quite expensive and will give you very little practical information.
No, it is not a human nor canine disease.
Complete blood count (CBC) is one of the most common diagnostic tools used in veterinary medicine. A CBC is a test used to measure and evaluate cells that circulate in the blood and may help to support a diagnosis of FIP.
In suspected FIP cases a CBC may show anemia and abnormalities in the white blood cell count, which may be low in initial infection and later increase. As the disease progresses, there is an increase in white blood cells called neutrophils and a decrease in the type of blood cells called lymphocytes.
A chemistry panel is a group of tests that are routinely ordered to determine general health status. These tests are performed on a blood sample, and there are a varied number of blood chemistry panels depending on what organs systems are being monitored. In suspected FIP cases mostly these tests are used to assess the function of the liver and kidneys.
One blood sample can sometimes be used for various chemistry panels, and the most commonly tested are liver, kidneys, pancreas, electrolytes, and proteins. In FIP cases one of the most commonly found abnormalities is an increase in serum, spinal fluid and/or effusion protein levels.
It is a test to detect the genetic material of the virus: the RNA. RT can be short for reverse transcriptase which is an enzyme which copies RNA into DNA or real time. Real-time PCR (also known as quantitative PCR or TaqMan PCR) is a recent development which allows an assessment of how much virus is present in the sample.
*** A blood sample should NEVER be sent for FCoV RT-PCR
*** A positive FCoV RT PCR on an effusion IS diagnostic of FIP.
It is the indirect immunofluorescent antibody test for detection of antibodies to feline coronavirus. While widely regarded as the “gold standard” in FCoV antibody testing, NOT all laboratories are equal, with some laboratories mistaking another antibody, called the anti-nuclear antibody for FCoV antibody.
First and foremost, a positive FCoV antibody test DOES NOT mean the cat has FIP! It is of the utmost importance the blood sample is sent to a good veterinary reference laboratory which offers a reliable FCoV IFA test. Good laboratories will test the serum (cat’s blood) at dilutions starting at 1:25 and if negative, it is safe to assume that the cat is truly negative, but if positive and you are dealing with a reputable laboratory, tests will continue by further diluting the serum until no longer test positive. The ideal serum dilution to consider is 1:10.
The dilution at which the antibody is still barely detectable is called the endpoint titer and is typically presented in numbers as 1:400, 1:600, 1:1200, 1:3200, etc. Unfortunately, there are many unreliable laboratories which do not correctly titrate serum and only report titers that are 1:400 or above as positive. Cats with lower titers will be reported as negative thus failing to rule in FIP as a differential.
As there are many cases of FIP in cats with titers lower than 1:400, you must find a reputable laboratory that dilutes the serum down to 1:25 or lesser. In cats showing clinical signs of the disease, very high titers (>1:16,000) are strongly suggestive of FIP.
Since most cats at cat shows were found to have antibodies to FCoV, one antibody positive cat more or less, will not make a difference. However, bear in mind that the stress of going to the cat show could cause your cat to develop FIP.
No, they can be sent ambient (room temperature) in sealed, leak-proof container and adequately packed. Please contact the receiving Laboratory for specific forms to complete and mailing rules to abide. Feces fall under the UN3373 Biological Substance Category B.
Prevent your cat(s) forever becoming infected with feline coronavirus. Other suggestions are:
Limit the number of cats in a household (ideally 5 or less)
Re-home FCoV carriers and if that is not an option, implement a highly detailed hygienic protocol to prevent transmission of FCoV infection
Try to get cats from individual homes (not from breeding catteries or shelters)
If you want to adopt or purchase a cat, chose a cattery or rescue group with no recent history of FIP and look how litter trays are kept
When choosing a kitten, look at all the kittens in the litter (FCoV infected littermates tend to be different sizes while kittens who are FCoV free tend to be similar in size) and always pick the healthiest and most vigorous kittens, not the runt.
Newly acquired cat(s) should be separated from the other cats until tested for FCoV and if purchasing a purebred kitten, demand proof the kitten tested negative for FCoV antibodies (negative at a serum dilution of 1:25 or less).
DISCLAIMER: The use of this website is at your own risk. This website is for information purposes ONLY, and it is NOT meant to replace a consultation with a fully qualified veterinary surgeon (veterinarian). It is NOT intended to be used to diagnose or treat any cat. The creators share their personal experiences, recommendations of treatments, foods, medications, supplements, and products for informative and educational purposes exclusively. The information in this site cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. Creators and contributors exclude all liability whatsoever for any loss or damage arising out of use of this site or reliance upon its contents. Furthermore, creators and contributors strongly advise all users to always seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian and to obtain professional advice on the correct regimen for your cat and his or her particular situation. NO responsibility can be accepted.