Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): an in-depth look.
Please note: this section is intended for individuals who want to learn more and have a deeper understanding of feline coronavirus and FIP. Basic knowledge of veterinary/scientific terms is needed to fully comprehend this section which was created for information purposes ONLY.
If you are a veterinarian, veterinary student, vet tech or hold any other type of position in the veterinary field, please visit Dr. Diane D. Addie’s website catvirus.com.
If you are a pet parent with a sick cat, please consult a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.
The authors exclude all liability whatsoever for any loss or damage arising out of the use of this website or reliance upon its content and STRONGLY advises anybody with veterinary-related questions to consult a qualified veterinarian. No responsibility can be accepted.
FCoV is common in places where a large group of cats is housed together indoors (i.e., breeding catteries, animal shelters, rescue organizations, etc.). The virus is shed in feces and cats become infected by ingesting or inhaling the virus, usually by sharing cat litter trays or by the use of contaminated litter scoop or brushes transmitting infected microscopic cat litter particles to uninfected kittens and cats.  Transmission is mainly indirect, rarely direct and NOT trans-placental.
In young kittens, FCoV infection occurs after maternal antibodies diminished at around six weeks of age and when the kittens are raised in contact with the litter trays of virus-excreting adult cats. Crowded conditions as those found in most purebred catteries, shelters and some multi-cat households increases risk of infection (ranging from 50% to 90%) whereas the prevalence of FCoV infection in free roaming feral and strays cats is much lower (estimated at about 15%) due to less exposure to fecally excreted virus than indoor housed cats.
FCoV is quite a fragile virus which usually is inactivated within 48 hours at room temperature; however, the virus can survive up to seven weeks in dried fecal matter thus small particles of used litter are an important source of infection in the environment. Contaminated surfaces, dishes, human clothing, shoes, and hands can act as fomites thus following detailed husbandry strategies are a must. A mixture of household bleach and hot water (at a dilution of 1:32) or other feline friendly disinfectants, easily destroys FCoV.
While FCoV is ubiquitous in cats worldwide, fortunately, the vast majority of cats infected with FCoV do NOT develop FIP, but become infected, shed virus on their feces from 2-3 days post-infection, seroconvert at 18-21 days, stop shedding the virus after 2-3 months to 7 months, then lose their antibodies. About 13% of infected cats become lifelong carriers, continually shedding FCoV in their feces and maintaining a high antibody titer. Natural immunity to FCoV is poorly understood but is presumed to be cell mediated rather than antibody mediated.
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.