Cats that do not have antibodies to the virus do not develop the disease.
The disease most often occurs in cats with some form of depressed immune system activity - eg it can occur secondary to infection with Feline Leukaemia Virus, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Two basic forms of disease are described and these have different signs associated with them :
Two other forms of disease occur occasionally :
Ideally intestinal or other tissue samples are needed to confirm the presence of the virus by immunofluorescence techniques.
Non-specific laboratory findings in FIP include :
The effusion is a modified transudate and may be
Serological testing for antibodies is widely used and is useful if interpretation is done carefully. The presence of a positive titre only means the cat has been in contact with a coronavirus - it does not necessarily mean that the cat has the disease FIP which requires immune-complex formation.
There is a specialized ELISA test which detects the immune-complexes and this is specific for the disease - but it is not generally available yet.
There is no need to treat cats that have a positive blood test, but which do not have evidence of the disease However, they should not be subjected to stress or be given any immune-suppressant drugs as these can precipitate the disease in carriers.
Treatment of cats with signs of the disease is invariably fruitless as death usually occurs within a matter of months. When it is given treatment is aimed at reducing immune-complex formation and remission and rarely total recovery have been reported following the use immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory drugs (often in combination) including :
Updated October 2013