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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Feline Infectious Peritonitis What Is It And How To Prevent It

Feline Infectious Peritonitis: What Is It And How To Prevent It

PetSmart Brent Carroll, DVM / Banfield®

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Affected cats are either born with Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) or they acquire it, usually by inhaling or ingesting the virus. Younger cats and cats with weakened immune systems are more likely to get the disease. Keeping your Pet indoors helps prevent exposure.

In general, FIP occurs in two forms: dry and wet. The dry form affects many organs, including the kidneys, lungs, liver, and eyes. It also can cause central nervous system disease. The wet form is more readily diagnosed and causes fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen.

The signs of FIP are often vague and can mimic other diseases. Schedule an appointment with your Pet's doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms:

-Weakness or depression

-Decreased appetite

-Weight loss


-Yellow skin

- Labored breathing

- A "pot-bellied" appearance

- Drinking and urinating excessively

- Stumbling

- Behavior changes

- Convulsions

- Unhealthy coat

- Bad breath

- Irregular heartbeat

Your veterinarian can be fairly certain if your cat has FIP by assessing its symptoms, evaluating blood test results, and analyzing a sample of the fluid from the chest or abdomen. But the only way your doctor can know for sure is to examine tissue samples from your Pet's organs.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for FIP. Your veterinarian can provide supportive care and help your sick Pet feel better with hospitalization, antibiotics, and medications that stimulate the immune system. Many cats that contract FIP ultimately die from it.

What You Can Do

Vaccinate--and keep your cat indoors! There are intranasal (nose drop) vaccines that have proven effective in protecting against infection. Your Pet will need an initial series of vaccines and annual boosters. Check with your Pet's doctor for details and options available to you.

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