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How contagious is FIP?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I had to put down my last shelter cat from the wet form of FIP in September. It was an absolutely heartwrenching situation, but obviously, there was nothing more we could do.

So we waited a month, like our vet and various sources had told us to do. We bleached the house, we cleaned everything, and in October we adopted two 12-week old kittens: one from the shelter again, and another from a local cat rescue.

Now, the one from the shelter got sick (this is the third case our vet has had from this shelter that developed FIP). We took him to the vet, and after a few vet visits, she suggested we have him tested for FIP - and tested positive for, but this time it's the dry form. He lost a full pound in a week (he went from 5.1 to 4), but he's now eating more and seems to be more active. He's going to the vet tomorrow to have a checkup and to be weighed, and have his temp taken. Those two are probably going to be our clincher on whether or not we feel we have to put him to sleep.

Now, my question is how contagious is FIP? My vet has told me that it's very contagious, but I thought cats that develop it are usually already genetically predisposed to it? I thought fiv/felv was the disease that was contracted by drinking/eating out of the same bowls? My other kitten is about the same age as the sick one. They've been together the entire time we've had them, about four months now. Is there a chance he will develop it, too? (I ask this because if Desi has improved, I don't want to put him down just based on that he has FIP. But I don't want the other to develop it, either.)

Thank you for any help you can give..
(Sorry if there's other topics about this same thing, I searched, but I don't recall seeing any)
post #2 of 21
Lemme give you a rundown of FIP, its a nasty disease as you've found out.
FIP is caused by the mutation of the corona virus, which is highly contagious, as in passed through the litter box, food/water bowls, etc etc. Some cats can have the corona virus their whole lives and it will never mutate into FIP, others are not that lucky. There is actually NO test for FIP, it can only be confirmed through an autopsy and there is actually no precise test for the corona virus either, just a titer test, that I'm not that informed on but it's something like certain levels of something in there blood can point towards them having the corona virus The wet form is usually fatal but the dry, if caught early, can be cured. I truly wish you the best of luck with your baby, and honestly there really is no point of separating the 2 now, if the other was going to catch the corona virus from the sick one, he most likely will already have caught it, but there is a good chance it will never develop into FIP. here is a link, it is a bit technical, but if you can get through all the med jargon, it actually is pretty informative
a couple other member, Momofmany and booktigger I know for sure, have also dealt with FIP, hopefully they'll come along and give you their insight
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you for that link. I didn't think there was a test for FIP - when they said there was, I was a little confused. I thought all they were testing for was coronavirus, but they kept saying it's a test for FIP, so I wasn't sure.. sometimes I have to wonder about my vets.

I figured the other one would've caught it by now, since they've been together so long. He seems fine, though, so I'm hoping he'll stay OK.
post #4 of 21
to be honest, we've had a lot of folks come on here talking about an FIP test, so your vet's not the only one it can be seriously scary how little vets really do know about these diseases, I take in FeLV+ cats and it took me awhile to find a vet that would aggressively treat my babies, not just say "well, they are positive" actually one vet at the multi-vet practice I take them to does give that attitude, I request the others
post #5 of 21
I've been told by my vet there is no test for FIP. There is a test for corona virus.
All it shows that your cat has been exposed to corona virus. If your vet does not understand this, you cat might not have FIP at all, but just has been exposed to corona virus. I believe a lot of shelter cats has been exposed to corona virus. So, maybe you cat does not even has FIP. When my cat was sick my vet said maybe my cat has FIP but after test my cat has not even been exposed to corona virus at all.
Basically as I understand it there is no test for FIP. Even if cat has been exposed to corona virus it does not mean he has FIP. And in some cats titer is low but they still have FIP. If your cat is improving maybe he just had cat flu or something else and not FIP.
post #6 of 21
FIP is very contagious. My sister's kitten died from it. She already had a 5 year old female when she got him. Thankfully she never had them together, but when asking her vet about exposing her resident cat to the area the kitten used to be, he had no idea. She told him that she threw away his litterbox and bleached everything, but wasn't sure if that was good enough, nor did he take the time to figure it out.

post #7 of 21
The "FIP" test that the vet usually tests for is for the Corona virus, as many have said. There IS, however, a test called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that they can run that is rather expensive. In my opinion, it was not worth it because we had to put our kitten (Smudge 1) down before the tests even came back, and they were "inconclusive"! Smudge had 7 brothers and sisters, his mom, and another 16 year old cat living at the house and none of the siblings ever got FIP, and mom and the elder cat both tested negative.
post #8 of 21
I lost a cat to the wet form of FIP (confirmed after his death). I found him at about 6 weeks old and he lived to be 18 months. He was perfectly healthy until a week before he died. When he got sick, there was no recovery. It went from bad to worse to death almost instantly.

As others have already stated, there is no real valid test for FIP when they are alive. They can show high corona virus titers, but that only shows exposure. I read at one reliable veterinary site that a good majority of cats would have high titer counts. Don't fret too much over the values.

My FIP cat was EXTREMELY close to 3 other cats in the household. It was constant grooming, playing, sharing food, water, beds, etc. He actually used to nurse off of my male, and did it enough to draw milk from him. So we are talking about a LOT of physical contact between these cats. None of them ever caught it. Nor did those 3 spread it to any of my cats since that time, and over the last 15 years since he died, those 3 could have passed it onto approximately 20 more cats that lived with them.

In all the reading that I've done and as someone already suggested, cats that contract FIP are those that are already pre-disposed to the condition. The corona virus might be highly contagious, but the cat needs the genetic background to turn it into FIP.

All of my cats have obviously been exposed to the virus, but I'm not worried about bringing in a new cat because of it. The odds are just too low.

If your cat has turned around and is playing again, it probably isn't FIP. Wet FIP takes them fast and there is never a chance of turn-around.

If you really like your vet and they are telling you he has dry form of FIP after a titer count, challenge them to read current literature. It is a very outdated practice to diagnose FIP after a titer count, but some vets still do so.
post #9 of 21
Thanks for sharing Momofmany. My sister has been very afraid of getting another cat, and is even afraid for the one she still has. The whole experience was very hard on her. She only had him a short time. She did the best she possibly could have done, and spent a lot of $$$ in vet bills. She didn't have him for very long before things went downhill. She adopted him from a rescue group. I can't blame her for being unsure! Heck, when she told me what had happened, I was even worried because Summer and Chevy's introductions went well, and it was short. They are like mother and son.

I will let her know your story, and can let her know it's okay to adopt the partially deaf kitty she's had her eye on.

post #10 of 21
The research vet at my laboratory says the PCR test is a waste of money and there are no solid tests for FIP. But I do know it is very contagious. I think I'd find somewhere else to get a kitty for now.
post #11 of 21
We had a cat that passed from FIP. We got him to keep Twig company, and we were new cat owners still learning about pretty much everything. We didn't know he had anything wrong with him until after we got the cats neutered, and he got sick right after. The vets told us that Twig probably has the dry form of FIP because of all the time he spent with our Rainbow bridge kitty, and that he'll always be a carrier of it. I worry about him all the time.
post #12 of 21
Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your problems. I recently lost my little Oliver to dry FIP. He, too, was a shelter adoption. I was concerned about my other two cats contracting this terrible disease. My vet feels that there is almost no chance that they will develop FIP. She thinks Oliver was probably infected by his mother very early on. As others have said, it seems to mutate from the corona virus - and only in some kittens/cats.
Also, I was told that the wet form of FIP took kittens very quickly, so if your little one is improving, perhaps it is something else. Oliver was originally tested for Bartonella's Disease. Has your vet mentioned that?
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, the vet ruled it was the dry form of FIP based on both the titer and his symptoms - he had fever that wasn't responding to antibiotics, lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, and it all started with a URI and uveitis. :/ So I do lean toward that diagnosis.

Some good news, though. He went up from 4 lbs to 4.8 lbs, and his temp is still high at 103, but it's not as high as it used to be. As well, he's been more active lately. Still not in a playing mood, but he's walking around and talking to us a lot more. He's on several meds now, including one that makes him feel hungry so he's been eating the high-cal food the vet gave us. Hopefully he'll continue to improve and we'll have more time with him.

The vet mentioned other possibilities before the titer results came back, but because she herself has two cats with dry FIP, she's continuing to say that's what it is. Honestly, I'm not too fond of her as she continues saying the healthy one is a carrier of FIP (not just corona virus, FIP itself) and he can never come into contact with another cat. Which is contradicting things I'm reading. Unfortunately, they're the only good vet clinic around here or else I'd get a second opinion -- the only other one diagnosed my previous cat as having a broken tailbone, when no evidence, other than her inability to walk, showed that.. including $300 x-rays!

Another question, though -- say my healthy cat does have high corona titers, but doesn't develop it when he's young. Is there the possibility he'll develop it later when he's a senior? I thought I read somewhere the titer readings will go down eventually? Or no? I'm not sure, some of that medical jargon on some sites is beyond my grasp.
post #14 of 21
FIP is one of the most misdiagnosed disease in the feline community. Newest research helps to set the record straight. There is an article here that can explain more. 8 months ago when I adopted a special needs cats out of the shelter (she is 17 years old, I was told she had wet FIP. I argued that she didn't. True, she has a pouch filled with a nasty liquid, but if she had FIP as three vets told me she did, she wouldn't be around today.
post #15 of 21
I don't trust any FIP diagnosis. I recently had a very sick cat and spent hundreds of dollars getting him well. But I would have spent well over a thousand if I followed the vet recommendations. Thank God I sought a second opionion. FIP is real, it's nasty and as hissy said it's grossly misdiagnosed. There is no way to 100% diagnose FIP until a necropsy is done. Titers are useless as most cats have positive titers. I've heard people say otherwise but I've done a lot of research and consulted with the vet pathologist at the laboratory I work at extensively on the subject. Luckily, this wasn't necessary with my kitty (a necropsy) and he is well now. I'm not saying your cat doesn't have FIP or that his condition isn't serious. Rather, I just don't trust the protocol and testing for this dreadful disease and too many animals have been put down needlessly. A cat who truely had FIP would pass away naturally within weeks, from what I have studied.
post #16 of 21

Knowledge of FIP is a great litmus test for a vet. f they tell you that it is contagious or that a cat must be isolated because they are a carrier, get a new vet. MOST cats will have Coronavirus. MOST cats will not get sick from it. Coronavirus is contagious. FIP is a mutation of the virus and is NOT contagious! Do not waste money on tests. Treat the symptoms, if it's FIP the cat will not live but if it's not FIP, they may have a chance. 

post #17 of 21

My cat Smokey has just been diagnosed with possible FIP. We almost lost her this weekend. She was having trouble breathing, stopped eating and listless. She's 7 yrs old and only about 7 lbs, a small breed, possible Bombay. Fluid formed in her chest cavity and the emergency vet had to put her in oxygen and drain the fluid. The fluid has been sent to a lab for testing. The emergency vet first thought it to be heart disease. I took her to our vet on Monday after bringing her home with diarectics (excuse spelling) to keep draining the fluid naturally and our vet informed us of possible FIP. He said she probably inherited it from her own Mom and it never materialized until now. I have two other cats a lot larger than she is, almost twice her size and younger too. Neither have shown a sign of this and our vet says it would be rare if they will ever catch it. She will probably be on meds the rest of her life. I have no trouble giving her pills. She is that sweet. My house stays fairly clean, litter boxes cleaned daily. All my cats are strays and indoors only. I never had to deal with FIP before. I will know more when I pick her up later today and will keep you all up to date. All this happened over this past weekend. Yes this is her photo.

post #18 of 21

FIP is easily diagnosed, just look at the blood test results. There is no 100% definitive test for FIP (check wikipedia). Basically, they take all of the symptoms + test results and decide whether it's FIP or not.


Classical signs of FIP (check the blood test results):

HIGH neutrophils
LOW to low normal Lymphocytes……later in illness it will be low
HIGH Globulins
LOW to low normal ALbumin………. later in illness it will be low



There is a VET that has successfully treated FIP in several cats, read the case studies:



Can you tell us what kind of food/treats she ate (how often you gave it) and what vaccines you gave her? I have a theory that it is caused by a combination of pet food and vaccines.

post #19 of 21

Blood tests at Vet Emergency did not show anything out of the ordinary. They thought it was heart disease at first and then later after a B - ? test which came back negative, cancer or a tumor, not a viral infection of any kind. My vet is the one who thinks its FIP. He kept the paperwork so I will have to get it back or a copy of it in the morning. I asked him to send the vials of body fluid that was withdrawn from her cavity to the lab for testing and I will find out the results on Wednesday. I'm not a vet tech, just a pet owner who wants all the facts of what my Smokey actually has especially since there was a difference in opinion between Emergency Vet and my own Vet. As far as food.... Meow Mix was all she ever ate (sorry not an expensive brand I know) and no treats except once in a while a dish of milk. (Spoiled wasn't she?) She stands at about 10" high. Small compared to my 6 month old male Siamese who stands at 14" tall. 

post #20 of 21

Well... lab results are in and boy did I pick the wrong forum. Turns out Smokey has cancer. Its a tumor located near her voice box in her throat. So we decided since she could not eat to put her to sleep. It was very hard for us, but at least now we know. What bothers me is the fact I had another cat put to sleep just two months ago, no relation to Smokey. We thought she had a stroke but the emergency vet said it was most likely a brain tumor. Her name was Skittles (can you tell my kids name our cats) and she lived to be 20 yrs old. I'm concerned it might be something environmental and will pursue checking with my bug man and their water and food to rule any or more out. I still have two cats and worry about what might happen to them. 

post #21 of 21
I recently lost my baby Princess to FIP. I took her to many many MANY vet visits and nobody could figure out what was wrong until I demanded them to do tests. (Seemed like nobody wanted to care for her) on her last day here with us we only went to the vet for a check up on how her anibiotics were working and she ended up loosing 2 pounds in 3 days and she just seemed completely out of it and her hair was falling out frown.gif the doctor felt a lump in her belly so he decided to open her up, which I didn't think was a good idea because she was too weak to survive a surgery. She was extremely swollen all through and was very jaundice. He called me and told me that we had to put her down because she wasn't going to live any longer. We had another cat that lives with us but she's older, her and Princess played all the time. The older cat, Olive, never contracted any form of FIP. Like they said in earlier posts, it only goes after young kittens/cats because their immune system is not built up yet. Older cats have almost always been exposed to it and their immune system fights it off.
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