Feline coronaviruses include those that cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and those that cause only a mild intestinal disease (coronavirus enteritis). The viruses are not the same, but they cannot be differentiated by the current blood test. A positive blood test will alert the doctor to the possibility of these diseases, and a negative test will help rule them out. Blood tests have value in the overall diagnosis and treatment of your pet’s illness.
Feline infectious peritonitis is relatively uncommon and generally fatal. It occurs primarily in cats between 6 months and 5 years of age. Two forms of FIP occur: a disease of the lining of the abdominal and/or chest cavities, in which massive fluid accumulations occur (“wet” FIP); and a disease of various organs, such as the lymph nodes, kidneys, eyes, and brain (“dry” FIP).
Feline enteric coronaviruses cause mild intestinal disease in kittens up to 12 weeks. The infection is common and probably exists in most homes with more than one cat. It may recur throughout the cat’s life but is rarely serious.
1. Currently vaccines are not available for the prevention of feline coronavirus infection.
2. Premises where FIP-affected cats have been kept should be treated with a disinfectant and left cat-free for some time. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations.
Important Points in Treatment
1. The prognosis for cats with FIP is poor. Most authorities consider the disease incurable. Treatment may ease your cat’s discomfort and prolong life for a short time.
2. Medication: Home care for FIP consists of providing a warm, quiet environment, administering the medication as directed, and carrying out forced feeding if necessary. The doctor will explain these procedures.
3. The prognosis for cats with coronavirus enteritis is excellent. It is a self-limiting, mild diarrheal disease.
4. Diet: Treatment for coronavirus enteritis consists of withholding food during the more severe stages. Your veterinarian will advise you if fluids should be given to avoid dehydration.