Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus
Cats that have been initially exposed to the feline coronavirus usually show no obvious symptoms. Some cats may show mild upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal discharge. Other cats may experience a mild intestinal disease and show symptoms such as diarrhea. Only a small percentage of cats that are exposed to the feline coronavirus develop FIP-and this can occur weeks, months, or even years after initial exposure.
In cats that develop FIP, the symptoms can appear to be sudden since cats have tend to mask disease until they are in a crisis state. Once symptoms develop, often there is increasing severity over the course of several weeks. The first nonspecific symptoms can be loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, rough hair coat, and fever.
There are two major forms of FIP, the "wet" form or the "dry" form. Generally, cats will exhibit the signs of the dry form of FIP more slowly than the wet form.
The hallmark of lethal effusive FIP is the accumulation of fluid inside the abdomen and/or chest cavity. Some animals take on a "pot-bellied" appearance. Excessive fluid buildup compresses the lungs and backs up into the airways, making it difficult for the cat to breathe. The lining of the affected cavity, along with the liver and spleen, becomes coated with white, fibrinous matter. Some lymph nodes may be enlarged.
Other signs of wet FIP include the following:
Noneffusive FIP usually develops slowly, with little fluid accumulation. Weight loss, depression, anemia, and fever are common. In young cats, growth may be stunted.Other symptoms depend on the organs affected and include the following:
FIP can be difficult to diagnose because each cat can display different symptoms that are similar to those of many other diseases.
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