Tuesday, 17 July 2018 08:11

How to Avoid FIP in Your Cat

Introducing a pedigree kitten who has not been tested for FCoV antibodies to your existing cats is playing Russian roulette with their lives

I recently heard about a lady who had seven cats and who introduced a new purebred kitten without first testing the kitten’s blood for FCoV antibodies.  It turned out that the kitten was infected with feline coronavirus (FCoV).  FCoV is the virus that causes FIP in a small percentage of cats who get infected.  However, it wasn’t the kitten who developed feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) …yet … it was one of her other cats. 

What surprised me about this story was that the homeowner was no stranger to FIP—she had already lost a cat to FIP and so she should have known just how dangerous this virus can be.  She had previously worked to make her household free of coronavirus—yet she introduced a new, untested, purebred kitten, perfectly aware of the risks of doing so: knowing that the prevalence of feline coronavirus in breeding catteries is extremely high. 

Introducing an untested kitten or cat—and especially a purebred— is like playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun pointed to her cat’s head. Who knows how many cats this lady will lose before this virus is through with her? 

On the other end of the kitty parent spectrum, my heart was absolutely uplifted to see a Facebook post by Maria Bonino: she has a known feline coronavirus (FCoV) carrier cat called Natalie—shown below top right: the beautiful calico cat.  Most cats mount a successful immune response and eliminate the virus, but some infected cats remain outwardly healthy, but shed coronavirus in their faeces continuously—Maria has one of those cats.  Maria also wanted to obtain a new kitten—two new domestic shorthair kittens, in fact—which came into a rescue shelter near her.  Here is a screenshot of Maria’s Facebook post:

Maria S Bonino FB PSC
Maria S Bonino FB PSC

You can see Maria’s grey kitten, Lupo in the photo above and the photo of Natalie, her FCoV carrier cat, the tortoiseshell. Amongst the small photographs is her black kitten, Perseus. On Maria’s Facebook page she proudly displayed the FCoV antibody negative certificates of Lupo and Perseus a year after introduction to her household: this was proof that she had kept them safe from the virus and had prevented them being at risk of dying of FIP. 

Careful vacuuming and lots of litter trays protected the kittens from becoming infected with coronavirus

Maria was also no stranger to FIP, having lost her beloved Luca some years before to FIP, but she had a different attitude to the person described above: she vowed to never again lose a cat to this virus. Maria vigilantly kept the kittens away from Natalie’s litter tray and she was very careful about hygiene: in her house each cat has their own litter tray, she vacuums diligently using high powered cordless vacuum cleaners, with one vacuum cleaner which she ONLY uses in Natalie’s room and not elsewhere in the house (to avoid contaminated microscopic cat litter particles on the vacuum cleaner itself being transported to the kitten area).  She uses World’s Best Cat Litter because it tracks a lot less than other litters and has some activity against FCoV. Every month she sends samples of her cats’ faeces to the University of Glasgow Veterinary School Laboratory in Scotland to monitor their FCoV shedding—or rather complete lack of virus shedding, apart from Natalie. Maria’s Facebook post was in celebration of her success—she proudly displayed her blood test results from the University of Glasgow, showing that the kittens had antibody titres of zero to FCoV: in other words they had not even been exposed to a few particles of this very infectious virus!  This result was proof that she hadn’t even allowed a single particle of infected cat litter to blow under the door into the rooms where the kittens were housed!  Wow!

FCoV Immunocomb from Biogal

The FCoV Immunocomb gave the best overall results in a study I conducted comparing many available FCoV antibody tests.  For screening cats for possible infection, one wants a test which is as sensitive as possible: the Immunocomb was 100% sensitive – it didn’t miss any sample with FCoV antibodies – it had the highest sensitivity of any of the tests examined.  The kit is complete and can be used in the veterinary practice, it doesn’t require complex technology to read the results – just an ordinary scanner.

FCoV antibody test any new cat or kitten to save the lives of your existing cats

If you are planning on buying a pedigree kitten, or a shelter cat or kitten, and you already have cats, PLEASE get your existing cats and the new kitten tested for FCoV antibodies BEFORE you bring him or her into your household: if you do not, you could be inviting Death into your home. 

If you won’t test your cats, at least have them vaccinated against FIP before introducing a new cat

If you refuse to test, then at least get your existing cats vaccinated with the FIP vaccine Felocell FIP (Zoetis) before bringing in the new kitten.  The vaccine doesn’t protect 100% of cats, but it does prevent FIP in about 75% of cats who would otherwise have died.

How you can help to End FIP: share this blog, put up a www.catvirus.com poster

Cats die of FIP because people are not aware of it until too late.  We have beautiful posters warning people of the risk of FIP which you can download, print out and put up in a place where cat lovers are likely to see them.  The posters are available from http://www.catvirus.com/Choosekitten.htm#Poster

Published in Blog

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