In the late 1960s, veterinarians faced a devastating epidemic that wreaked havoc on cats worldwide.
This deadly disease was identified as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), caused by a coronavirus specifically attacking cats.
Even today, FIP remains the leading cause of premature death in cats.
In this article, we will delve into the differences between FIP and Covid-19, explore the characteristics of coronaviruses, discuss FIP symptoms, diagnosis challenges, and the latest prospects for treatment.
Additionally, we’ll offer practical steps to prevent FIP, drawing from the advancements made during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Learn about Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) and its differences from Covid-19. Understand symptoms, diagnosis challenges, and prevention in cats.
Coronaviruses belong to a family of viruses that affect both respiratory and intestinal systems in various animal species, including humans.
Under the microscope, these viruses are recognizable by their crown-like appearance, which led to their name.
While most coronaviruses cause mild respiratory conditions, recent history has shown that some strains can be highly aggressive and dangerous.
Notable examples include SARS coronavirus, Mers-Cov, and the infamous Sars-Cov2, responsible for Covid-19.
In cats, most strains of coronaviruses reside in the digestive tract, causing a relatively mild condition known as feline enteric coronavirus (FECV).
An infected cat typically experiences a short episode of diarrhea and possibly mild respiratory issues, which resolve within days.
In approximately 10% of cases, the virus may undergo mutations, leading to the development of FIP.
It is important to note that FIP is only transmitted from cat to cat and does not affect other animals or humans.
FIP symptoms and diagnoses challenges
FIP triggers an intense inflammatory response in the cat’s body, particularly affecting the abdomen, kidneys, and brain.
There are two main types of FIP: effusive (wet) and non-effusive (dry).
Wet FIP leads to an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and around the heart and lungs, while dry FIP presents with more generalized symptoms such as lethargy, stunting, lack of appetite, anemia, and fever.
In severe cases, FIP may affect the nervous system, leading to neurological symptoms.
The challenge for veterinarians lies in diagnosing FIP accurately.
Often, it is difficult to predict which cat will progress from the mild form to peritonitis.
Moreover, testing may show positive results for the mild form of the virus, making it challenging to distinguish between the two conditions caused by the same coronavirus.
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.
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 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.
As for the transmission, it is impossible since the mutation only occurs in the infected individual.
Vaccine development and treatment prospects
While significant progress has been made in human vaccine development during the Covid-19 pandemic, the same success has not been achieved in creating a vaccine for FIP in cats.
Currently, no effective vaccine is available for FIP.
Nevertheless, some promising studies have shown that the antiviral drug Remdesivir, used against Covid-19, might extend the life expectancy and potentially cure cats with FIP.
However, the drug’s availability for veterinary use is still pending, and some cat owners have resorted to desperate measures in acquiring it through unofficial channels.
Preventing FIP in cats
Despite the challenges in finding a definitive treatment or vaccine, there are practical steps that cat owners can take to protect their feline companions from FIP.
Similar to Covid-19 prevention, maintaining good hygiene, clean litter boxes, and keeping cats away from infected individuals are crucial measures.
Current research is exploring new avenues for FIP prevention and treatment, bringing hope for a better future in tackling this devastating disease.
Understanding FIP and Protecting Our Feline Companions
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) and Covid-19 are two distinct diseases caused by different coronavirus strains.
While Covid-19 has variants and poses risks to humans, FIP remains a cat-specific disease with no effective vaccine yet.
Advances in Covid-19 research have contributed to a better understanding of coronaviruses, offering insights into potential FIP treatments and prevention strategies.
By implementing similar preventive measures as those taken during the Covid-19 pandemic, cat owners can help protect their feline friends from this deadly disease while waiting for further breakthroughs in FIP research.