How close is Cat Coronavirus to Covid-19 Disease?

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At the end of the 1960s, an epidemic broke out and decimated many cats despite all the efforts made by veterinarians.

It was then determined that the new disease that was devastating them came from a coronavirus attacking cats specifically.

It was named feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

To this day, this viral disease remains the most common cause of premature death in cats.

How is it different from Covid 19?

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that affect the respiratory and intestinal systems of different animal species including humans.

Recognizable by their crown of proteins under the microscope, they are mainly the cause of mild respiratory tract conditions such as colds.

Until the year 2002, coronaviruses were considered low virulent viruses, potentially dangerous only for immunocompromised people and infants.

But with the emergence of SARS coronavirus in China then Mers-Cov in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and finally Sars-Cov2 in China in 2019, the world has learned that some coronaviruses can be very aggressive and dangerous.

What is feline coronavirus?

Most strains of feline coronaviruses are found in the digestive tract and do not cause severe disease.

This is called feline enteric coronavirus (FECV).

An infected cat goes through a fairly brief episode of diarrhea and may show respiratory problems (coughing, sneezing, runny nose) which disappear spontaneously in a few days.

It produces antibodies against the virus in about ten days.

Nevertheless, this same virus can undergo one or more mutations in approximately 10% of cases.

The virus then infects the white blood cells and spreads very quickly through the cat’s body.

When this mutation occurs, it is called feline infectious peritonitis or FIP

Its transmission is only from cat to cat and does not infect other animals or humans.

What are the symptoms of FIP?

An intense inflammatory reaction occurs in the vessels and tissues infected by the virus, especially in the abdomen, kidneys, and brain.

When the disease occurs, it is usually progressive but has a poor prognosis.

There are two types of FIP:

  • The effusive FIP (wet)

It translates to:

– an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
– a pleural effusion in the lungs
– a pericarditis effusion around the heart

Signs of ascites are seen in a very swollen and protruding abdomen.
If the cat does not suffer from ascites, it is very lethargic and has difficulty breathing.


  • The non-effusive FIP (dry)

It has common symptoms that make diagnosis difficult. It includes:

– lethargy
– stunting
– lack of appetite
– anemia
– fever
– diarrhea

If the virus has reached the nervous system or the brain, neurological symptoms occur (ataxia, tremors, convulsions)

Difference between cat coronavirus and Covid19

  • Covid 19 in humans

When a human being is infected, the Covid 19 virus replicates while making mistakes.

The result is a replication that is not identical to the original virus, mutants emerge.

The Delta or Omicron variant appeared for this reason.

The person can be symptomatic or asymptomatic, but in both cases, the variant can be transmitted and infect other people.

global pandemic


  • The Cat Coronavirus

The situation is quite different in cats because there are no variants in infectious peritonitis.

The virus rotates around the world, comes in waves, and sometimes severely affects an unlucky cat.

The particularity of this virus is that it has two distinct faces:


– either it’s a simple, mild coronavirus that causes very manageable bowel disease

– either it undergoes a terrible mutation and turns into a FIP that triggers uncontrollable inflammation

It is estimated that approximately 6-10% of cats infected with the coronavirus undergo a mutation that leads to FIP.

The most frequent cases occur in rather young cats, although the disease can also affect older individuals.

As for the transmission, it is impossible since the mutation only occurs in the infected individual.

FIP cat

Diagnosis of a FIP

It is complicated for veterinarians to diagnose this disease because it is very selective.

Unable to determine which cat is likely to progress from simple intestinal damage to peritonitis.

It is also difficult to test because most cats only fall victim to the mild form while testing positive on PCR.

It is therefore impossible to distinguish the two forms of disease caused by the same coronavirus.

The situation is therefore frustrating for the veterinarian who is faced with an animal quickly struck down without being able to anticipate.

The Cat Coronavirus Vaccine

Several vaccines have been created to try to eradicate this disease from cats but, unfortunately, none have brought conclusive results.

Some even made the infection worse and had to be taken off the market.

This lack of success is surely reflected in the fact that the Covid vaccine primarily targets the Spike protein on the surface of the virus and that humans are sensitive.

The cat does not react and his illness even tends to accelerate.

vaccine for cat

What we know about coronaviruses

When a cat or even a human being is infected with a virus, a race between the virus and the immune system begins.

The cat coronavirus makes proteins that attack and slow down the immune system to take the lead in this race.

By blocking immunity, the virus has time to replicate in a consistent way and when the immune system tries to counter the attack, a devastating inflammation is triggered.

In cat FIP ​​as in Covid19, this stage of the disease is often the fatal phase the disease.


  • The similarities with Covid19

Super contaminators are also found in cats.

A single cat can produce a high viral load very quickly and thus contaminates its congeners, thus creating an infectious cluster.

Like humans, cats can be totally asymptomatic but carry the virus, thus being contagious.

Finally, just like for the Covid, it is essential to isolate sick cats from healthy cats and keep them at a distance from each other until the infected animal recovers.

Prospects for the treatment of FIP in cats?

You must have heard of Remdesivir during this Covid19 epidemic.

Basically, researchers tested this substance to treat AIDS and Ebola viruses, but without success.

The manufacturer, therefore, hoped to find a new use for this drug and some veterinarians tested it to treat infectious peritonitis in cats.

The results of the first trials show that taking this molecule significantly lengthens the life expectancy of cats with FIP but can also in some cases cure them.

Unfortunately, with the Covid pandemic, the laboratory has suspended its veterinary work and the availability of its drug.

A black market was created and many owners of sick cats did not hesitate to acquire the drug on the net in desperation.

They have even created a community in which they advise each other on finding the right dose and managing potential side effects.

For their part, veterinarians remain helpless, although attentive to the conclusions of the “users” of this new drug, and are still awaiting marketing authorization by the health authorities.

Prevention of infectious peritonitis in cats

“Thanks” to Covid-19, scientific research has advanced enormously and certain discoveries can now be applied to the treatment of cats.

Vets have a better understanding of the virus and its mutations.

New drugs have appeared for humans and may, for some, be applied to animals.

Research on the vaccine has shown that it is totally ineffective for cats and that targeting the Spike protein is useless for them.

A discarded trail opens the horizon to new research.

Some are about to lead to the development of a vaccine against the mild form of this cat coronavirus.

Other searches directly target the FIP virus and its mutation.

All these advances are encouraging, but will you tell me what you can do concretely to protect your cat from this disease?

As with humans, distancing is important.

It is, therefore, more than preferable to keep your cat away from its congeners and to ensure that its environment and its litter box are always clean.

There is no more to do than for the prevention of Covid19 while waiting for an effective treatment for both diseases.

cat fip disease

* Read more:

Do not touch the cat’s whiskers!

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Natural health is paramount to me, natural remedies have always been part of my life. Whatever the problem, I make sure to find natural solutions that can often be associated with traditional medicine. Everything I write here allows me to share them with you.

The content of this article is not intended to replace medical advice or any treatment.
Keep in mind that you should contact your doctor or any qualified healthcare professional to determine if you can add a supplement to your treatment or change your diet.

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