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Possible FIP - good thoughts needed!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi all. I'm waiting for the ultrasound results on my cat Mina, which will help determine if she has FIP. And I was hoping for some board magic, if some could be sent my way!

Ever since she was spayed back in April, Mina (who is about 1 year old now) gained lots of weight and a pot belly -- a very tight abdomen, not the flabby mush belly that I'm used to in overweight cats. (Actually even before the spaying, which was a week after I got her from a shelter, she had a sort of pear shape, and very taut skin over her belly.) She's a very solid cat, with strong shoulders and a big head but the belly was, like, outta control.

Anyway, she's been very healthy-acting all this time -- eating plenty, drinking, pooping, cleaning herself (although the huge belly made it difficult for her to clean her, um, nether regions). Still, the balloonish belly concerned me, so I finally was able to take her to the vet last Friday.

The initial checkup showed the following:

- Normal temperature
- No jaundice
- Gums are pink & healthy
- Heart & lungs/breathing were fine

The vet did a tap on the abdomen to see if there was fluid in there, but couldn't draw any. Doc said she could just be overweight and a "tight little drum." She did a blood test/FIP test and on Monday called with the following results:

- Blood was normal, no elevated protein (which is typical in FIP)
- However, the FIP Titer came back positve at 1:400 -- fairly low, I understand

Since this is still inconclusive, the doc recommended an ultrasound to see if there's fluid in the abdomen, and if there is, to do a guided needle tap to see if it's typical protein-rich FIP fluid.

So that's where I am now, petrified and waiting for the results. Does anyone have any thoughts about the likelihood of FIP here? As I said, she's been normal -- active, friendly, social, and always enjoying some roughhousing with her two kittens Sophie and Therblig (I adopted the whole family from the shelter; Mina had them when she was about 5 or 6 months old, poor thing). Since the swollen belly's been around since April, it seems she would have been showing other symptoms of the FIP by now (like fever, vomiting, congestion, listlessness, etc.).

Is it possible that this is nothing other than overeating? Does this sound typical of FIP for her to be perfectly healthy (other than the belly) for nearly six months?

I know no one can totally reassure me (and of course there's a possibility that it'll turn out not to be FIP but something just as horrible!), but I guess I'm just hoping for some good thoughts, because I am really really scared for her. She's such a sweetheart and a really good mom; neither of her kittens ever walks by her without getting a thorough washing! Heck, she even let them "breastfeed" off of her until they were nearly four months old.

I know I should have taken her to the vet sooner, I really do know that. It's just that I'm on disability and only now able to scrape up the money for the vets. (The checkup & blood/FIP tests were $200! That's NYC for you.) But now I've got insurance and have arranged with my family to help me out with vet bills if necessary, so I'm definitely going to take better care of all of them. I just hope Mina will be around a long time to enjoy the benefits!

Sigh. Thanks for letting me ramble. This site is a godsend.

Edited to add: BTW here are two pictures of Mina, right after she was spayed -- doing her two favorite things: 1) eating and 2) cleaning her kids! You can see her pear shape here.

(From left to right, that's Sophie, Therblig and Mina)

(Mina licking Sophie)
post #2 of 17
No help to offer, I don't have any firsthand experience on the subject, but keeping our fingers crossed for you and sending ((((many good vibes)))) your way.

Nice pics, ((hugs)).
post #3 of 17
My understanding is that FIP is very hard to diagnose. I can't help you too much, but here is an excerpt from the Cornell University website on FIP that might help you intrepret what you have discussed with your vet thus far. The website can be found at:


The KELA, ELISA, IFA, and virus-neutralization tests detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies in a cat. A positive test result only means the cat has had a prior exposure to a coronavirus -- not necessarily one that causes FIP -- and has developed antibodies against that virus. If the test is negative, it means the cat has not been exposed to a coronavirus.

The number, or titer, that is reported is the highest serum dilution that still produced a positive reaction. Low titers indicate a small amount of coronavirus antibodies in the serum, while high titers indicate greater amounts of antibodies. A healthy cat with a high titer is not necessarily more likely to develop FIP or be a carrier of an FIP-causing coronavirus than a cat with a low titer. It also is not necessarily protected against future FIP virus infection.

Sending positive vibes your way.....keep us posted on what you find out please. Beautiful baby you have!!
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the good wishes, superkitty and Momofmany! I really appreciate it.

Thanks also for the info, Momofmany. It's very kind of you to take the time to gather that stuff for me! Actually I think I've memorized that website, I've done so much research on FIP over the past couple of weeks. It's a great resource.

I've read that it's very common to have a positive result in this test -- supposedly something like 60-80% of shelter or breeder cats (anywhere with a large number of animals) test positive for exposure to the coronavirus (which is indistinguishable from the very-closely-related FIP). So maybe Mina's been exposed but doesn't have FIP. I hope.

The problem seems to be that this disease is so bloody insidious and confusing that the vets are basically unable to confirm it unless they get to examine the tissue samples in an autopsy.
post #5 of 17
If you have done the full internet search, then you know how hard it is to pin this one down. I won't share more web sites as you have probably seen them all. Let me share my limited first hand personal experience with FIP:

I've had one positive FIP result about 11 years ago. Boris was 1-1/2 years old, in final stages of the disease and a simple abdominal fluid test confirmed what we suspected already. He weighed only 5 pounds full grown and the vet suspected that he had this from birth. He went from acting normal to death in less than a week. His early symptoms were lack of appetite, vomiting and lethargy. The vet was stymied until his belly swelled the last 2 days. Fatal FIP usually strikes very hard and fast. I was very lucky that Boris never passed it on to any of my other 6 babies.

I really can't tell you if this progression is typical of all FIP cases, or unique to Boris. I would love to be able to give you encouragement but honestly don't know enough to do so. The disease is certainly allusive!

I will keep all fingers and toes crossed for you....these are the hard times of being owned by a cat!!
post #6 of 17
My prayers are with your cat
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks to Purrfectcatlove and again to momofmany (great screennames, by the way!) for your warm thoughts. The board magic worked! The ultrasound showed no fluid, only fat! Lots of wonderful, everyday, result-of-eating-too-much-kibble fat!

YAY! I've never been so happy to be told of the need to go on a diet!

Now yes, I know it's not good for cats to be fat, and my sweet little Mina (15 lbs!) is gonna have a careful monitoring of her weight from now on. But compared to a diagnosis of FIP? Holy cow, it's the best thing I could have hoped for!

(The funny part is, I spent $450 to find out what anyone looking at Mina could see -- she's a heifer! But as my sister said, it's a helluva lot better than spending $450 to find out she has a terminal illness, so I'm not complaining.)

According to my vet (who was thrilled), the ultrasound technician was laughing as he did the exam -- "I can't believe this is all just fat!" LOL. Poor Mina, I hope she's not too vain about her looks.

Finally, momofmany, I'm so sorry about Boris, my heart goes out to you for losing that little guy. That's so horrible. FIP is just an awful, awful disease. I hope to God that they'll soon find a cure, or at least a more reliable vaccine (the current one is pretty much a joke from what I've read).

Thanks again, guys!
post #8 of 17
That is tremendously good news!!! I'm so happy for you!!
post #9 of 17
Whew! That is great news!
post #10 of 17
Came in very late on this thread...all I can say is THANK GOD !!!!!!
Give your Mina a huge snuggle from me...oh and should Mina be a little hurt by the Technician's comments, pass on a message to her from me...

Thin may be in, but Fat is where its at !!!

Peace, Love, and Happiness, Always
post #11 of 17

Your Mina sounds exactly like my Wally's situation. He too was diagonsed with the FIP corona virus, in which they told me he had a very high titer result. After that diagnose, I was totally paranoid that the virus would progress in FIP. I also did tons of research online as well, it's amazing the info you can find on here!
I watch him closely for signs and try to keep him as healthy as I possibly can by giving him vitamins and keeping all litterboxes and bowls constantly. In the last few months, he too developed the pot belly/tight abdomen so obviously like you I became worried. But he also seems very healthy and happy with no other signs so I don't worry about it. He recently was at the vets for a cold he caught from one of my other cats and I made them examine his belly to keep my mind at ease. She did not feel any fluid build up. She told me that he is just "a fatty"...it just seemed funny because I never actually see him eat! But that's all it is. Mind you, I still keep an eye on him.
It's hard not to be scared for your loved one with this dreadful disease and my heart goes out to anybody who has lost a friend to FIP.

Keep an eye on Mira's kittens as well regarding their health. It's more than likely that they also have FIPV with her grooming them, I pray that they can fight the virus just like their mommie is doing.

I just thought I'd share my story as well since it so much sounds like what we are dealing with here also.

All my best.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks sooooo much for the congrats and well-wishes, guys! The weight off my chest is staggering. (Except when Mina sits on my chest, that is! 15 pounds o' MinaLovin'.)

Hugs to Wally, Kittymomof5! It sounds as if he's had a positive test for exposure to FeCV, which isn't actually FIP (but can be a precursor to it; cats can develop the feline coronavirus on its own, which has cold-like symptoms and isn't particularly serious). How long ago was he tested?

As Momofmany mentioned, healthy cats with high FeCV titer results aren't necessarily at more risk for developing FIP than those with low results. Of course it's always a good idea to keep Wally as healthy, unstressed and well-fed as possible (without turning him into a bigger fatty than he is, LOL! ).

One good thing is that the percentages are in our favor -- only 10% of cats who test positive for FeCV will ever develop FIP.
post #13 of 17
Thanks for the hugs to Wally (He sure loves a good hug and rub whenever he can get it!)

I pray that is true about the higher titer not being anymore of a risk than the lower count of a result. His sister, Peanut is a carrier which means she either gave it to him, or he to her, or they could have even gotten it from their mommy or even another cat. I don't know exactly because they were strays at 5 months when I caught them. They were both tested last December and since have been in the same household as my other cats. Both Peanut and my other cat, Jasper tested positive with a low titer. Jake was negative at the time of testing back in January and I never got my oldest cat tested because she stays clear of them. I take extra care in making sure she has her own clean bowl and own litterbox because she is my baby, being 11 years old I don't want to take any risks with her.
I won't be getting more tests done for them. It really is pointless now, knowing the virus is around. So trying to keep them healthy is all I can do at the moment.

My best to Mina! Give her some lovin from us....
And lets pray our little bundles of joy don't pack on anymore extra pounds! (I just weighed Wally, he's 15 months old and 13 lbs)
post #14 of 17
Is it contagious?
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi Jocelyn, I think it sounds like you're doing the best you can to keep your cats healthy and sanitary! You're a good loving mom.

BTW, Peanut is an AWESOMELY CUTE name for a cat!

Catepillar, yes, FeCV (the 'benign' virus that is the precursor to FIP) is very contagious, which is why so many cats that live with other cats will test positive. Again, though, not all FeCV positive cats will develop FIP (the fatal form of the disease) -- only 1 in 10. (Obviously, the percentage is not very comforting if you're the mom of one of the unlucky sick cats. )

Here is some info from an extremely helpful FIP resource site, catvirus.com --

FCoV is a very contagious virus, infecting nearly all cats who encounter it. The major source of infection is the faeces of infected cats, and uninfected cats become infected by sharing litter trays with infected cats. The second major route of infection is the unintentional exposure of uninfected cats to tiny particles of infected faeces on people’s shoes or clothing, hands, poop scoops, etc. The infected cat likely swallows the virus when grooming, or when particles of faeces contaminate their food.

FCoV is occasionally shed in the saliva, early in infection, so sharing food bowls or inhaling sneezed droplets could possibly allow infection to occur. Close contact with infected cats, for example in mutual grooming, might, rarely, result in infection.

Feline coronavirus almost never crosses the placenta to the unborn kitten. Most kittens which become infected do so after protective antibody they receive in their mother’s milk has waned, usually when they are 5-7 weeks old.

.... FIP occurs when the cat reacts inappropriately to feline coronavirus (FCoV) infection. Most cats simply become infected, shed FCoV for a month or two, mount an immune response, eliminate the virus and live happily ever after. ...

... Around 1 cat in 10 who is infected with FCoV develops FIP. Very often after one cat has died of FIP there is a second cat in the household which is known to be infected, but is perfectly healthy. There are currently no drugs which can prevent a FCoV infected cat developing FIP, but there are a number of other ways we can help our cats to deal with the infection:

1) Minimise your cat's exposure to FCoV by good litter tray hygiene

2) Minimise the cat's stress. It has been shown that most cats who have developed FIP experienced stress before they developed FIP... It is therefore wise not to stress cats which have FCoV antibodies if at all possible ... Examples of situations which cats find stressful: being rehomed, moving house, new additions to house: baby, dog, cat, kitten, too many cats in one house (over 6), going into cattery, surgery (being neutered, getting a dental), trauma (e.g. road accident), intercurrent illness, pregnancy, parturition, lactation.

3) Maximise nutrition and give anti-oxidants.

... Remember that cats exposed to FCoV are most likely to develop FIP in the first year, so if your cat has had FCoV antibodies for more than a year, it is unlikely that (s)he will now develop FIP. There is no need to go on using anti-oxidants for more than a few months after FCoV exposure, indeed, it could be risky to do so.
Hope this helps!
post #16 of 17
Thanks Kira

I named her peanut because she is shaped like one...lol and when she first cuddled up to me, she definately smelled like peanuts! So yes, I guess it is a cute name for a cat then..hehe

A month after I caught Peanut, Wally (a.k.a Walnut) was still coming around looking for his sister so I caught him too and it only seemed right to call him Walnut so they match. They are so sweet together.

Thanks for your kind words..
Here's a pic of them (Peanut is behind Wally)
post #17 of 17
Great to hear Mina is okay! Fat kitties are the best. My best friend had one that weighed 25lbs!!! He was an awesome cat....
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