I am very sorry that you have gotten an FIP diagnosis. It's a horrible disease.
What is your vet's diagnosis based on? You didn't mention what symptoms your cat (what is his name?) is displaying that is resulting in this diagnosis. If you don't know whether it is wet or dry FIP, I'm guessing there is no fluid buildup in his abdomen or chest (that would indicate wet FIP).
One thing you must know about FIP is that it cannot be conclusively diagnosed except throught necropsy. What tests have been conducted?
My cat Zoey was diagnosed with dry FIP back in March and was put to sleep in April. I do not believe she had FIP, but I found that since no one could figure out what was actually wrong with her, they overly relied on the FIP diagnosis and missed what was actually the problem (like a broken tail...missed at the vet's first glance at an x-ray).
Do not let this be a death sentence for your cat....at least not until you know more about his case. Please take the time to read the posts that I have written about FIP in other threads. It has been a while since I lost Zoey and my memory about everything is starting to wane - but these posts were written when I was much more "on my game" about FIP.
PM me if you have any questions! I will try to keep an eye on this thread!
that things turn around...Edited to add: FIP is not contagious. Coronavirus is, but chances are if your 3 cats have been living together, they are all infected with that. Not a huge deal - most cats are! FIP results from a mysterious mutation of coronavirus that occurs INSIDE the cat. Do not worry too much about your other cats. If your vet is insisting that FIP is contagious...it is time for a second opinion (which I would recommend anyway).
I'm going to copy and paste what I said recently in another thread. I hope it helps. Make sure you rule out other possibilities (toxoplasmosis, bartonella, etc.). I guess hope for the best, but expect the worse. Get a second opinion. Zoey hasn't been doing well the last couple of days (likely because she was taken off the antibiotics despite a very high white blood cell count)), but I still feel like the research and effort I have put into her is worth it. FIP is a very tricky diagnosis - and my experience thus far is that once they get that label, it's hard to get new vets to ignore it, even if blood results aren't indicating it. Zoey is very sick....but I don't think she has FIP. That said, there are lots of cats who are diagnosed with FIP and do actually have it. It's a very fine line, but I think as long as your cat has some fight in her, you need to give her a chance.
for you and Babe. I truly hope this is not FIP and that she is doing better!
"I am very sorry that you have gotten this bad news about your kitten!
However, I am with those suggesting that you be cautious about the diagnosis. I'd guess that biopsy results are significantly more reliable than blood tests, but unless they are absolutely sure, I would be hesitant to put a cat to sleep before giving it a chance to recover. Sounds like you've changed her diet to a new protein source, which is great. If she's getting better, just see how she does. If she's been through surgery and everything else, it might take her a bit of time to emotionally recover. Until you see her suffering, I would see how it goes. I have never been through this, but most say that the cat will "tell you" when they are ready to go.
My little Zoey has been through a lot in the last 4 weeks, including an FIP diagnosis. At first, I was hesitant to accept the FIP diagnosis, but after doing a lot of research, and seeing her progress, I accepted it. Then, she started getting better and it became evident that she had a broken tail (missed on initial glance at the x-rays). Explained many of her symptoms, but not all. In my opinion, the latest blood work does not indicate FIP. It indicates some other sort of infection, possibly an ear infection (she was treated for ear mites at the vet, but her ears are still really gunky). I never gave my vet the chance to suggest I put her to sleep, but I know he was giving me that possibility by the way he spoke of treatments - he called it palliative care. There was one day that I would have very likely put her to sleep (based on the reports of people I had checking on her, she appeared to be suffering more than I had seen), but luckily I was at work that day and she was much better by the time I got home. Then, her eyes were acting wonky one day and an emergency vet suggested we put her to sleep (despite blood work indicating that she was improving). If I would have PTS on any of these occasions, I would not have seen Zoey walking normally, eating well, playing, and "talking" as she is now. She is not yet back to her old self, but everyday I feel we make a step back toward normal.
The reason I talk about Zoey so in depth is that I truly felt that I needed to give her a chance to recover from everything that was going on with her. FIP is such a difficult disease to diagnose, and there are many treatable things that it could be mistaken for. Make sure you are confident with the diagnosis before making and decisions, and don't put her to sleep because you fear she might get worse. Cross that bridge when you get there. Even if you are expecting the worst, you might be pleasantly surprised by the best!
Do her blood results indicate that she may have FIP? Albumin/Globulin levels, anemia, lymphocytes? FIP titer (not that I'd trust this for anything...)? The more evidence the builds, the more likely the diagnosis.
Edited: To add to what Blaise said, I joined that particular FIP group when I was dealing with Zoey. Through that, I found http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/FIPCatSupport/
, which gets a bit more activity. I think many of the people posting on these groups are the same. However, they are EXTREMELY helpful. If you post blood and test results, they will help you interpret them. They will give you differentials to check out. They will suggest possible courses of action as well. If Pix does have FIP, they will provide great support for you as her disease progresses. Please check the two groups out!"
Having just gone through a suspected case of FIP with my 8 month old kitten (we have put her to sleep, but I still do not believe she had FIP), I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I have definitely done plenty of research and have plenty of advice for those facing an FIP "diagnosis".
The first thing you should know (and I wouldn't be surprised if the vet approved literature didn't tell you this) is that FIP is very difficult to diagnose, especially the dry form. It is often misdiagnosed. The only definitive way of diagnosising FIP is through autopsy. This is not to say that your cat does not have FIP. But, there have been many cats who have been "diagnosed" with FIP and lived for years after. Whether they had FIP or not, who knows.
So, my first question to ask the vet would be what are they basing the diagnosis on. I'm hoping they have done blood work. If they are diagnosing FIP without doing blood work, find another vet...immediately.
Things they might see in symptoms (you will notice these symptoms match many other cat illnesses):
- weight loss (often over a long period of time, before symptoms are noticed)
- neurological symptoms (loss of balance/coordination, tremors)
- occular problems (uveitis, inflammation in eye, etc)
- persistent fever that typically does not respond to antibiotics (your cat's immune system is in overdrive)
Things they might see on blood work:
- low albumin to globulin ratio (these are blood proteins and aren't always included in standard blood work, you may have to ask for them to check this - and check it everytime you do blood work)
- high globulin (usually, the low a:g ratio is caused by high globulin - there is a test that can check which globulins are high, and "gamma globulins" are usually eleveated with FIP)
- high neutrophils (a type of white blood cell)
- low lymphocites (your vet might refer to this as "lymphopenia")
- high coronavirus titer (this is usually a separate test...and again, if your vet is basing the FIP diagnosis purely on a high coronavirus titer, find another vet - most cats will be positive for this...it DOES NOT mean they have FIP, but it is a possibility (if the test was negative, then FIP would be ruled out))
None of these things, in isolation, tells you it is FIP. The more of them that accumulate, the more likely FIP is. However, there are a lot of diseases that FIP mimics and causes similar symptoms/blood work values.
I would suggest joining this group: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/FIPCatSupport/
I would say a couple of them are "experts" on FIP. If you post your cat's blood results there (just ask your vet for a copy), they will help you interpret them. I will look out for your post!
My best suggestion would be to be sure you ASK QUESTIONS and DO RESEARCH (search FIP, as well as your cat's symptoms to see what else could cause those). You are already on the right path by coming here and trying to find out more. I would also recommend a second opinion. My experience is that once a vet has FIP in their mind, it's hard to change it. Find a reputable vet in your area and take your cat and his blood work there for a second peak. They may very well say FIP as well, but at least you gave it a shot. I wouldn't even be afraid to ask for a third opinion, if you still weren't comfortable with the diagnosis. I had 3 vets say FIP about Zoey - and I KNOW 2 of them based that information solely on the "diagnosis" of the first vet. Had they looked at her most recent blood work, FIP would not have been on the top of their list (for the record, I believe she had an severe infection that became harder to fight after she broke her tail, somehow - a broken tail that was MISSED on the first look at the x-rays because the vet was so set on FIP).
Without knowing what other symptoms your cat has and what his/her blood values are, I can't give you a whole lot more information at the moment about other possibilities. There are a lot of them, however, and posting some info about your cat would be helpful.
The one thing that strikes me is that your cat responded well to antibiotics. From my understanding, FIP should not respond to antibiotics, unless it is fighting a secondary infection (which could certainly be the case). FIP is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. Standard treatment for FIP is prednisone and antibiotic (antibiotic only because prednisone supresses the immune system). Be careful with prednisone - if your vet puts your cat on it, and he/she does not have FIP, but some other infection instead, prednisone could worsen the infection.
Please do not write your cat off yet. And certainly don't let your vet write him/her off either!
I hope this helps a bit! I know it is very hard to get such bad news and to feel there is no way you can help him/her. But try to stay positive and hopeful!