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What are the symptoms of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)?

Updated: May 24, 2023


FIP Symptoms: A Complex Picture


FIP can manifest in various forms, making it a challenging disease to diagnose. The symptoms can vary depending on the type of FIP—wet or dry—and the organs affected. Let's explore the common signs associated with both forms:


Wet FIP Symptoms:

Wet FIP is characterized by the accumulation of fluid in body cavities. The following symptoms may indicate the presence of wet FIP:

  • Gradual weight loss: Despite a seemingly healthy appetite, your cat may experience unexplained weight loss over time.

  • Lethargy and depression: Cats with FIP often exhibit a lack of energy and enthusiasm for activities they once enjoyed.

  • Distended abdomen: An accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity can cause the belly to appear swollen or distended.

  • Difficulty breathing: Fluid accumulation in the chest cavity can lead to respiratory distress, resulting in labored breathing or rapid breathing.

  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice): Liver involvement in wet FIP can cause a yellowish discoloration of the eyes and skin, indicating a serious condition.

Dry FIP Symptoms:

Dry FIP, characterized by the formation of inflammatory lesions in organs, presents a different set of symptoms:

  • Chronic weight loss: Despite maintaining a healthy appetite, your cat may experience persistent weight loss.

  • Lethargy and decreased activity: Cats with dry FIP may exhibit decreased energy levels and reduced interest in their usual activities.

  • Recurrent fever: The presence of an unexplained and persistent fever is a common symptom of dry FIP.

  • Poor coat condition and hair loss: Dry FIP can cause changes in the cat's coat, resulting in a scruffy or unkempt appearance. Hair loss may also be evident.

  • Changes in behavior: Cats with dry FIP may display alterations in behavior, such as increased aggression or depression.

  • Swollen lymph nodes: Enlarged lymph nodes may be palpable, especially around the neck or behind the knees.

Ocular Wet/Dry FIP Symptoms:

Ocular FIP is a rare form of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) that affects the eyes. The most common symptom is a sudden onset of unilateral or bilateral uveitis (inflammation of the eye). Other ocular symptoms include increased tearing, squinting, redness, and apparent cloudiness of the eye. FIP can also cause retinal detachment and hemorrhage, which can lead to blindness.


Here are some of the symptoms of ocular FIP in cats:

  • Sudden onset of unilateral or bilateral uveitis (inflammation of the eye)

  • Increased tearing

  • Squint

  • Redness

  • Apparent cloudiness of the eye

  • Retinal detachment

  • Hemorrhage

Neurological Wet/Dry FIP Symptoms:

Neurological FIP is a rare form of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) that affects the central nervous system. It can cause a wide range of neurological symptoms, including:

  • Seizures

  • Abnormal behavior

  • Cranial nerve deficits

  • Central vestibular signs

  • Ataxia

  • Tetraparesis

  • Hyperesthesia

  • Abnormal postural reactions

  • Unsteady gait or paralysis in the legs

Remember, these symptoms may also be associated with other feline diseases. It is crucial to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. If you suspect your cat of having FIP, it is safe to pre-emptively treat your cat for FIP and is recommended. FIP medication is extremely safe as it is designed to combat only one virus and is often side effect-free.


Seeking Veterinary Care

If you observe any of the aforementioned symptoms or notice any changes in your cat's behavior or overall well-being, it is essential to consult a veterinarian. FIP is a complex disease that requires professional evaluation for an accurate diagnosis.

During the veterinary visit, the veterinarian may conduct a thorough physical examination, request blood tests, and potentially collect fluid samples or perform imaging studies to aid in diagnosis. In some cases, a definitive diagnosis may only be confirmed through more invasive procedures or post-mortem examination.


Conclusion

Understanding the symptoms of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) empowers cat owners to recognize potential signs of this complex disease. Whether it's wet FIP with fluid accumulation or dry FIP with organ-specific lesions, being vigilant about your cat's health is crucial. If you notice any unusual symptoms or changes in your cat's behavior, promptly seek veterinary care for a comprehensive evaluation.

Remember, only a veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis and guide you through the appropriate management strategies. By staying informed and acting swiftly, you can optimize the well-being of your beloved feline companion.

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