Cat Guardians 101
Preventing Your Other Cats or Kittens from Developing FIP
The single best way to prevent FIP is to prevent your cat from becoming infected with feline coronavirus.
Feline coronavirus (FCoV), which causes FIP, is shed in the feces. FCoV infection occurs via the oral-fecal route. Therefore, your best chance of preventing FCoV infection of your cats, minimizing the chances of FIP happening or eliminating FCoV from your cats is: preventing your cat(s) coming into contact with infected cat feces. It is best if cats go outside to defecate (if it is safe from them to do so). However, where this is not possible thus scrupulous cat litter tray(s) hygiene is a must.
In most instances, it is unlikely that cats could become infected by direct contact with an FCoV infected cat, even by close contact, such as fighting, mating, mutual grooming or sharing food bowls. However, FCoV is occasionally (rarely) shed in the saliva for a few hours early in infection, so in situations such as boarding catteries or rescue shelters, where there may be a lot of newly infected cats, care must be taken not to transmit virus via contaminated food bowls or to inhale sneezed droplets.
FCoV is a very contagious virus, infecting nearly all cats who encounter it, the second major route of infection is the unintentional exposure of uninfected cats to tiny particles of infected feces on people’s shoes or clothing, hands, poop scoops, etc. The infected cat likely swallows the virus when grooming, or when tiny particles of feces contaminate their food. It is for this reason that using a non-tracking litter and keeping food bowls in different rooms is highly recommended.
Litter tray hygiene helps prevent FCoV transmission and minimizes the dose of virus to which a cat is exposed.
General recommendations to prevent FCoV transmission:
Have a least one litter tray for each cat that you have (ideally one per each cat plus one more)
Place litter trays as far away from food and water as possible
De-clumped litter trays at least once per day (ideally twice or more)
Make it as easy as possible for yourself to clean the litter trays as often as possible (site litter trays in places which you frequent throughout your day)
Use a non-tracking (clumping) cat litter
Use a dirt trapper mat beside the litter tray
Vacuum frequently (at least once a day – ideally keep a handheld vacuum close to the litter trays and vacuum that area as needed)
Sterilize litter trays with steam or boiling water and disinfectant at least once a week (ideally a mixture of hot water and household bleach in a 1:32 solution. Other options include steam and surgical spirits. Please make sure to avoid any disinfectant containing phenol which is toxic to cats, most pine based disinfectant contain phenol).
Trim the hair of back legs and tail (trim the “trousers” of long-haired cats to reduce the chances of feces getting trapped on them).
Losing any pet can be as traumatic as losing a child for some people, and there is something unique, a deeper pain which affects all of us touched and forever changed by FIP. In most cases, there is very little time from the onset of clinical signs to the time we are forced to say goodbye, the time a pet guardian needs to face his/her worst fear. The death of an FIP cat can be a truly traumatic experience, and you will go through the same stages of grieving as in human bereavement: shock and denial, anger, guilt, sadness, depression, and then finally acceptance. Please visit our Memorial and Bereavement pages to find support when you need it.
“When the cat you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”
What is Feline Infectious Peritonitis?
What causes Feline Infectious Peritonitis?
What cats are at risk of developing FIP?
What are the clinical signs of FIP?
How do you reach the FIP diagnosis?
What are the treatment options for FIP?
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