Shelters & Rescues – FIP 101

Professor Wills

Protocol for minimizing the introduction or spread of FCoV infection.

In shelter situations, FCoV infections are difficult to prevent and control, thus, they spread quickly. Please follow this protocol to minimize risks of exposure.

Reduce the number of cats in any area
In rescue facilities, cats should be kept singly (if not possible – not more than two cats per cage) Cats should be kept in small groups according to their antibody or virus excretion status: antibody or virus negative cats together, antibody or virus-positive cats together.

Prevention of kitten infection
Rescuers of pregnant cats should follow the “early weaning and isolation” protocol outlined in our Breeders 101  section.
Reducing fecal contamination of the environment.
Have an adequate number of litter trays (1 tray per 1-2 cats) and an adequate number of scoopers (1 x each tray). Litter trays should be declumped at least daily (using its own scooper).
Use non-tracking litter.
Remove all litter and disinfect litter tray at least once a week.
Place litter trays away from food dishes.
Wash food and water dishes in hot water (ideally in dishwasher hot cycle – 140F / 60C).
Wash bedding in hot temperature water (140F / 60C).
Vacuum around litter trays regularly.
Clip fur off hindquarters of long-hair cats.
Disinfect pens between occupants using 1:32 dilution of hot water and sodium hypochlorite (household bleach). Allow pens to lie empty (if possible).
Vacuum floors diligently and clean with cat-friendly disinfectant and steam clean (if possible).
Please train your personnel and/or volunteers to use disposable gloves and change them regularly (every time they move from cleaning one pen to another) to avoid cross-contamination.
Please train your volunteers to notify the employee in charge of the cat facility if any signs of disease are noted in the cats.
Please isolate sick cats to prevent the spread of infection (not just FCoV).

importantEach pen or cage should have its own litter tray, poop scoop, small size brush and shovel, which are disinfected thoroughly between each occupant.

Keep kittens safe from FCoV infection
Kittens must be kept safe from all infectious diseases, not just FCoV, while in your care, and because the only available FIP vaccine (not in all countries) does not work in kittens younger than 16 weeks of age, we are reliant on excellent hygiene and quarantine procedures to keep them safe. Fostering is an excellent option for keeping rescued kittens away from infection as long as fosterers are properly trained and also limiting each fosterer to just one or 2 litter at a time in their home.

How many kittens do you lose? The average rate of abortion/stillbirth/fading kittens in non-pedigree cats is about 5%. If you are losing more than 1 or 2 kittens in every 20, you want to be asking yourself – Why? What is the reason for this? Please get your veterinary surgeon to help figure out what is going on and consider requesting post-mortem procedure to be done in some of those kittens to find out with certainty the cause of death.

Special note: By far, the biggest cause of kitten death in rescue shelters is feline parvovirus, FPV (also known as feline panleukopenia virus, feline enteritis virus and old-fashioned names such as feline distemper or cat plague). Feline parvovirus is especially nasty because it is mega-tough (not as fragile as FCoV) and can last in the environment for up to a year (not as FCoV which last up to 7 weeks). Very often kittens or adult cats with FPV are just found dead, without even having shown signs of illness. Fortunately, the vaccines against FPV are very good and can be used from just a few weeks of age. However, once again, excellent hygiene practices are the primary way to save animals from this killer virus.

Addressing ways to prevent all the diseases which become problems in cat shelters is outside the scope of this website but is the advice regarding feline coronavirus (FCoV) is followed, you should find that the prevalence of other troublesome infections will also be reduced.

Set up a rescue shelter support group
Veterinarians are obviously extremely important to any rescue shelter and each organization in addition to its employees should have a support group (volunteers). A good and properly trained/supervised support group can prevent a shelter having massive losses due to infectious diseases. A support group usually consists of some or all of the following:
Webmasters, photographers / film-makers, graphic designers
Media liaison officer
Local media (journalist)
Home checkers
Counselors, etc.

For more information about Everything You Need to Know if you work in a Rescue Shelter or Boarding Cattery, please refer to Chapter 6 of Dr. Diane Addie’s book Feline Infectious Peritonitis and Coronavirus which is available on Amazon.

EndFIP® would like to take a moment to recognize and praise people who work or volunteer at animal shelters/rescue groups. All of you face unspeakable cruelty and neglect so extreme most people can’t begin to imagine. You repair broken bodies and broken lives every day and in most instances with limited resources. You deal with the emotional ups and downs that surround animals and our relationship with them. Selflessly, you carry on and perform life-saving work every day, and we want you to know you are deeply appreciated.
THANK YOU for all you do to help animals
and for making the world a nicer, kinder place.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”


"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

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.