Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal disease that is the number one cause of death in cats under 2 years of age. What is FIP? The disease is caused by the feline coronavirus (FCoV). Under normal circumstances, when a cat is infected with the virus, it will develop a typical immune response and not be negatively impacted. For reasons not 100% understood, some cats will develop deadly FIP after exposure to the virus.
In cats with FIP, the coronavirus will infect a cat’s monocytes (white blood cells) and begin replicating itself. The virus will take over an affected cat’s immune system and cause widespread damage throughout the cat’s body. “Wet” FIP is an acute, lethal form of the disease that causes fluid to accumulate in the body. “Dry” FIP is a more chronic condition, but still serious and eventually fatal.
Cats are commonly exposed to the feline coronavirus in multi-cat environments like animal shelters, breeding and boarding facilities, and even in multi-cat households. While blood tests can show that a cat has been exposed to the virus, they can’t necessarily tell that it has become virulent and will lead to FIP. There is no cure or even an effective treatment for FIP. It is a fatal disease and treatments consist of supportive care like anti-inflammatory medications and fluid drainage.
A cat named Bria was a Birman kitten who passed away from FIP at 9 months of age back in 2005. Her “mom” was Susan Gingrich, sister of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Susan and the Winn Feline Foundation established the Bria Fund a few months after little Bria’s death. The mission of the Bria Fund is to support research on FIP, and also to raise awareness about the disease.
From now until October 31, 2016, a small $5 donation to Winn’s Bria Fund allows you to participate in the Fund’s annual prize raffle drawing. Cat lovers can help find a cure for this terrible disease…and win a neat gift at the same time.