Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Infectious Peritonitis is caused by a coronavirus. It initially can be symptomless or gives rise to a mild upper respiratory infection which may show as a runny nose or mild eye discharge. Cats that recover can become asymptomatic carriers.

The disease is usually spread from cat to cat during close, prolonged contact between infective and susceptible cats. thus catteries and multi-cat households tend to give rise to higher incidences of FIP.

A small percentage of infected cats develop a secondary, fatal disease. Cats that are stressed (poor nutrition, already fighting other infections etc) or elderly are more likely to develop this secondary phase which is almost invariably fatal.

FIP can occur in 2 forms - the "wet" form and the "dry" form.

"Wet" FIP

The "wet" form is where the damage caused by the virus leads to the collection of fluids in various body cavities, including the chest and abdomen. Initially the signs of disease are non specific - loss of appetite, weight loss and listless - but as the disease advances the symptoms may be come more symptomatic of the excess fluid accumulation. For example, fluid in the thorax will lead to laboured breathing.


The 'dry" form (also known as the disseminated form) is difficult to diagnose as most changes take place in a variety of organs (liver, kidneys,eyes etc) with clinical symptoms being fairly non specific.

Currently there is no curative treatment for cats with either the 'wet" or "dry" form of FIP, and most cats will die within a few weeks of showing clinical symptoms of either the "wet" or "dry" form of FIP.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis should always be a consideration in catteries, and multiple cat households.

The virus is easily killed by many household disinfectants and testing kits and vaccines are under constant development - so check with your local vet for the latest measures you can take to protect your cat from FIP.