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Cat's Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

By Emma Ferraro
January 7, 2022

[Photo Credit: NYT]

At this very point in time, everyone is aware that the coronavirus is a devastating pandemic that

is plaguing the population of the planet. However, the human population is not the only one affected―cats are being affected as well. Coronaviruses are a large group of similar viruses that can cause illness in humans and various animals. Scientists have recently discovered

a virus strain called the feline coronavirus, which causes feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

Feline infectious peritonitis is typically not a significant issue in cats. Unlike COVID-19, a strain

of coronavirus very prevalent in humans on the planet today, feline coronavirus strains are

typically found in the gastrointestinal tract. These strains are considered to be feline enteric

coronavirus (FeCV). Cats that possess this infection don’t initially show symptoms, though they

do often develop symptoms of “brief bouts of diarrhea and/or mild upper respiratory signs from

which they recover spontaneously” (Cornell Feline Health Center). Within 7-10 days of infection

Fe-CV infected cats will typically use antibodies to inflict an immune response.

There is difficulty and a lot of gray area when differentiating between FeCV and FIP. There are

no available laboratory tests at this time that can distinguish between the two, which in turn

makes the illnesses difficult to treat properly. It is also widely unknown why certain cats will be

infected with the feline coronavirus itself, but never develop FIP. According to the VCA

hospitals, up to 50% of cats in single-cat households and from 80-90% in multi-cat households

will become infected with feline coronavirus. However, the overwhelming majority (90%) of

these cats will only develop feline enteric coronavirus and continue to live healthy lives. The

incidence of feline infectious peritonitis is significantly lower, at 5-10% of infected cats and less

than 1% of cats admitted to veterinary hospitals.

Cats can become infected with the specific virus strain of feline coronavirus through the

fecal-oral route, which is when a cat comes into oral contact with the feces of an infected cat.

However, not all infected cats leave traces of their infection in their feces―only about one third

do, in fact. This virus shedding via feces is most often present for just a few months, though

some do so for life. Once in the feces, the virus can’t survive for more than one and a half days.

Surprisingly, the virus can be preserved for months in colder temperatures.

It’s important to be aware of the facts of the diseases caused by the feline coronavirus in order to

know how to prevent and treat them.


[1] "COVID-19 and Your Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 July 2021,

[2] "Feline Infectious Peritonitis." Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 15 June


[3] "Feline Infectious Peritonitis." Vca_corporate,

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