Useful facts and information about cats

Cats need grass

Most cats and kittens will eat grass when it is available to them, and cocksfoot grass seems to be favoured. The grass is a natural medicine for relieving bile and sourness. It also acts as an emetic and is the means of inducing the vomiting of hairballs. For those cat owners who live in accommodation without gardens, the grass can easily be grown in pots or boxes. Readers in Britain can obtain sufficient seed for six pots by sending a stamped addressed envelope to the Cats Protection League .

The close season for fleas

Although infestation by fleas and lice is most likely to occur in spring and summer, it can happen at any time during the year.

With the onset of winter and bird migration, and hibernation of squirrels and hedgehogs, fleas normally contracted from grass by cats and dogs tend to become less of a problem. However, fleas do have a remarkable ability to survive, particularly in centrally heated homes, for up to a year, or even longer. Therefore, animals showing evidence of fleas, or their droppings, in their coats, or who scratch persistently, may have become re-infested by fleas living in carpets, skirting boards or armchairs in the home. In such cases, effective treatment is essential; your vet can advise on the best medication.

Too many owners neglect to tackle the problem at once, for it can frequently be resolved by vacuuming all floors, coverings, washing all bedding and by the use of fly killers and insecticidal strips in the places where cats and dogs frequent, or rooms to which they have access.

Some organizations

But forgetting such shortcomings it is a happy thought that there are so many people concerned with the health and well-being of our friend, the Cat. In Britain, for instance, the Cat Action Trust (known as CAT) is exploring ways and means of limiting colonies of stray and semi-wild cats. In Denmark and Israel such cats are given ‘the pill’ in special medicated foods, but because of the risk of side effects and other practical difficulties, CAT has resorted to the more reliable method of trapping and surgical neutering, while another organization, Cats in Industry can be consulted where there is an indigenous wild cat population in foundries and workshops, which they will uplift, neuter and rehome. And there is FAB, not an abbreviation of ‘fabulous’ but of the Feline Advisory Bureau, a worldwide organization which cares entirely for the well-being of the domestic cat and propagates to its members information about illness, disease, and treatment in the feline which had, for many years, suffered as the poor relation of other domestic animal species. It has a comprehensive library relating to cat diseases and, being a registered charity, is happy to give free advice to all enquirers. With such help at their disposal there should be lots of healthy cats, and happy owners, in the future.

Some statistics Cats are increasing in popularity – (a ‘convenient pet’). Ownership: 19.1 per cent of all households in Britain included a cat in 1979 as against 18 per cent in 1975, and 17 per cent in 1966. Population: in 1979 there were 4,892,000 cats as against 4,714,000 in 1975 and

4,200,000 in 1966. Feeding: in 1979,90 per cent of owners fed tinned pet food some of the time.

How To Help Your Cat In An Emergency

Road accident

Cats involved in accidents do not always show external signs of injury. Cat skin is very resilient and may remain unbroken despite severe internal injuries. Cats which are found dead without cause have usually died from internal injuries sustained in accidents.

Injured cats should be picked up in the manner previously described and gently placed in a suitable container. Broken limbs should be kept in as natural a position as possible and any external wounds protected from dirt during journey to vet. Try to keep the cat’s airway clear by holding its tongue forward and clearing away any fluids.

Influenza (feline viral rhinotracheitis orFVR)

A very infectious virus disease of cats. Outbreaks occur every summer. The first signs are sneezing, moist or running eyes and nose, sometimes with profuse salivation.

This disease is very infectious, so isolate your cat and keep him warm and dry. He will usually eat until his nasal passages are congested. Nowadays prompt treatment will save the great majority of cases.

Do not take your cat with ‘flu into a crowded vet’s waiting room; leave him outside in the car, if that is possible, until called in for attention. It is particularly important to ensure the cat drinks fluids, even spoonfeeding if necessary.

Emergency situations Symptoms

Action

Acute diarrhoea

Loose or soft motions and a cat which is obviously ill. Diarrhoea in the young kitten can be very dangerous.

Withhold food and give only fluids. Withhold milk temporarily. If diarrhoea is severe or if it persists more than twenty-four hours, seek help from the vet.

Bites

Pet cats are often bitten by other cats. The bites are usually small puncture wounds rather than tears in skin. Sudden lameness or swelling of one leg is often caused by a bite.

Bites are always infected wounds, and when they are puncture wounds they do not drain easily. Antibiotics should only be given professionally; the next condition, an abscess, may develop if the condition is untreated.

Keep in a darkened, quiet room until seen by a vet. Never give aspirin to cats.

Abscesses

An abscess is an infected pus-filled swelling which is frequently the result of failing to treat a bite. Sometimes a large tense lump is noticed; usually the abscess is only noticed after it has burst and produces a large, smelly wound. Abscesses often occur around the head and at the root of the tail.

An intact abscess should be drained and cleaned by your vet. He will give appropriate treatment and tell you how to keep the wound clean. Veterinary treatment will probably still be necessary even after an abscess has burst. It is essential in either case that the wound is kept open until the infection has been eliminated.

Feline infectious enteritis (FIE or panleucopaenia)

This is a specific virus infection which often, but not invariably, involves acute diarrhoea. Young kittens contracting it may die before the owner notices any symptoms.

This disease is easily prevented by vaccination, and is so serious that all kittens should be vaccinated between six and twelve weeks.

Treatment of the unvaccinated cat with FIE must be undertaken very quickly, but may still be unsuccessful. Prevention is better than cure.

Ear infections

The cat will shake its head or scratch at its ears. On closer examination the ear(s) will be found to contain foreign matter which may smell. Often tiny white mites may be seen crawling in the ear.

Pending proper treatment, some relief may be given by putting warm olive oil or medicinal liquid paraffin in the ears. Gently remove any debris which is softened and will come away easily. Do not probe down into the ear or use any spirit preparation.

Emergency situations Symptoms Action

Bone or needle in the mouth or throat

The cat will show sudden and extreme discomfort, will paw at its mouth and may cough or choke. An acute throat infection can produce similar symptoms.

Open the mouth and see if any foreign body is obviously present which can be removed easily with tweezers. Do not risk doing further damage. Do not offer food, as an anaesthetic may be necessary. Contact vet as soon as possible.

Stomatitis (sore mouth)

Very sore mouth, usually with scale (tartar) on the teeth. The gums are reddened and ulceration may be present. The cat is reluctant to eat or drink, or may do so with its head on one side. There may be loose teeth.

Proper dental treatment under an anaesthetic is usually necessary. This may be accompanied by treatment for the mouth infection. In emergency, as a temporary measure, bathe the mouth with warm, very dilute salt solution.

Poisoning

Usually very obvious and dramatic with a marked hypersensitivity to all stimuli, such as sound, touch and light. (Slug bait is particularly dangerous; made up in bran, it can be attractive even to cats.)

Put animal into a quiet, dark room and contact vet for advice. If possible, take a sample of what has been eaten when you visit the surgery.

Transporting your cat to the vet

It is not always possible for a vet to come to see your cat; in fact, it is often better to take him to the surgery, where there is specialized equipment to deal with emergencies. If there is any possibility that your cat may have to be given an anaesthetic, for example to open an abscess, or to take an X-ray, do not give him anything to eat or drink.

A container is essential to transport a cat in a car. If a proper cat basket is not available, a stout cardboard box, such as those used to contain twelve wine or spirit bottles, makes a good substitute. Cut or punch some small holes for ventilation, and tie the box firmly with string or adhesive tape.

Do not make the common error of half-filling the box with a cushion, as this will leave inadequate room for the cat. A few layers of newspaper or an old woollen garment are ideal. Pick up an injured cat by holding the scruff of its neck firmly with one hand, and either tucking the cat under the other arm, or placing the hand under the cat’s abdomen.

If a cat is very vicious, the best method is to drop an old thick coat or blanket over it. Tuck the edges towards, and under, the cat and pick up the whole bundle and put it in the box taking care not to suffocate the patient.

Telephone the surgery to say that you are on your way with an emergency.

The following schedule is a useful guide for seeing at a glance how to deal with the most common emergency situations.

Cat Health – Using Your Veterinary

Hopefully, you will not need to attend your vet’s surgery with your cat too frequently. Even so, do not be misled into thinking that you should only take your cat there when you suspect that something is wrong. As a cat grows older, there are likely to be considerable benefits in regular check-ups. Signs of deteriorating health will be detected at an early stage, and will be much easier to correct before the cat’s well-being is seriously affected.

VeterinaryTaking your cat to the vet on a regular basis from an early age has many long-term benefits. Such care should ultimately extend your pet’s life expectancy.

Q. I’m worried about possible veterinary costs. What can I do ?

Insure your cat with one of the companies operating in the animal health field. Details can be found in veterinary surgeries, pet shops, and in animal magazines. Check out several companies and compare what is on offer before selecting a policy.

Q. Is anything excluded?

The most common exclusions are the cost of vaccinations and neutering, and any preexisting conditions that your cat had from when the policy was taken out. You can keep the cost down by opting for an excess sum, which you will pay first in the event of any claim. There are also limits for claims under the policy, and as always, you should read the small print very carefully and follow the correct procedure in the event of a claim.

Careful examination of your cat by the vet, coupled with blood or urine tests if necessary, will highlight any problems at a routine examination. It is also important to ensure that your cat’s annual vaccinations are kept up-to-date, because a cat’s immune system is likely to function less effectively as the years pass.

A SECOND OPINION

There may be times when you are unhappy with your vet, in which case you may want to discuss your concerns with the head of the practice. But remember that, unfortunately, vets cannot always bring good news. It can be hard to accept that your pet is suffering from a serious illness, especially if your cat appears to be reasonably fit and is not very old.

You may instinctively feel that you want a second opinion, but in the vast majority of the cases, sad as it will be, the conclusion will be exactly the same. However, a second opinion could be helpful in the case of a particular orthopaedic injury for example, where a specialist in the field may be able to offer a different technique to treat the problem.

  • A record of vaccination is important to both you and the vet. Always keep it in a safe place, and check that it is up-to-date from time to time. Take the record with you whenever you visit the vet.
  • A veterinary practice is obliged to offer cover around the clock, every day of the year to deal with emergencies. However, you must not consult your vet on a non-urgent matter outside regular hours. Such consultations could prevent a genuine emergency receiving urgent assistance.
  • If you wish your cat to be treated with complementary remedies, such as homeopathy, there are veterinary surgeons now specialising in this field.
  • It’s not a good idea to discuss your cat’s health with your vet when he is listening to your cat with a stethoscope. He may not be able to hear you, and it can be a distraction as well!

 

Hair Loss In Cats

A cat’s hair grows continuously, so that there are always new hairs emerging, and old hairs being shed from the coat. At certain times of the year however, this pattern becomes more synchronised. As a result, a cat’s coat grows extensively and offers more protection against the cold through the winter. During the spring as the weather warms up again, the hairs are shed in greater numbers. Abnormal hair loss is usually a result of a cat’s behaviour.

Hair Loss In CatsHair loss is more obvious in cats with pale colouring —especially if you have dark furniture. Careful choice of textures and colours of furnishings will make this seem less of a problem.

Q. Why is it that some areas of the cat’s body are naturally hairless?

This is genetically predetermined, with the skin in such areas – the nose and foot pads –lacking the necessary hair follicles. Instead, the skin itself is normally thicker, to compensate for the lack of protection provided by hair.

Q. My cat came home with tufts of hair missing. Why is this?

Your cat has probably been involved in a fight. Although painful, the loss of the tufts is likely to have protected your cat from being badly lacerated.

Q. Is hair loss serious?

It can be, especially in the pale-coloured cats, because the exposed skin is then more vulnerable to the risk of sunburn and associated cancers, or if it caused by glandular disorders.

All cats have a consistent covering of fur. The Sphynx breed is the most extreme example: its hair is essentially confined to the extremities, so it is effectively bald. The Rex breeds also have a relatively thin, fragile covering of hair, which can be damaged by careless grooming, making a soft chamois leather the best material for this task.

EXCESSIVE GROOMING

In fact, one of the most common causes of hair loss is actually overgrooming by the cat itself, and not just in the case of Rexes. This problem is commonly seen in other breeds, notably in Siamese and Burmese. It can sometimes be linked with an underlying allergy, often due to flea bites, which cause the cat intense irritation.

UNDERLYING CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS IN CATS

  • Certain hormonal disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome, can affect the growth of the hairs, which in turn can lead to baldness. One of the features of this syndrome is
  • that hair loss is symmetrical, occurring on the same area on Over-grooming by the cat itself is sometimes the cause of hair loss, and also leads to fur balls collecting in the cat’s intestine.
  • Both sides of the body, rather than occuring randomly. This condition in cats is rare.

The fungal infection known as ringworm is usually clearcut in its effects as well. Hair loss in this case occurs in a circular fashion, although not all the hair may be shed, and where the infection occurs, the hair becomes thinner than usual. Great care needs to be taken when fungal infection is suspected, because fungal spores can survive for a long time in the environment, spreading to people as well as to other pets. Fungal infections are also spread easily on grooming tools, such as brushes and combs.

  • The technical name for hair loss is alopecia.
  • It is light exposure rather than temperature that has the greatest impact on the rate of growth of the cat’s hair.
  • A cat’s hair grows more slowly, and less hair is shed, during the winter. Cat hair grows at an average rate of 0.3mm (one-hundredth of an inch) per day — about the same rate as human hair.
  • At 200 per square mm (130,000 per square inch), there are twice as many hairs on a cat’s belly as on its back.

 

Loss Of Appetite In Cats

Cats are very much creatures of habit, and although illness can depress their appetite, environmental changes can also cause them to eat less than normal, or even cause them to stop eating altogether. Whatever the reason, it is important to identify the cause of the problem quickly and look out for other behavioural changes. If the loss of appetite is associated with extended sleeping, this could indicate a more generalised illness.

Loss Of Appetite In CatsIf your cat is not eating, it is a good idea to check for signs of weight loss, particularly in kittens: it could be that the loss of appetite is actually due to your pet being fed by a well-meaning neighbour.

Assuming that your cat is as bright as ever, a loss of appetite could be a short-term problem, for example, something may have altered in her environment, causing a loss of appetite. Cats can be particularly fastidious about their food, and simply changing brands can be sufficient to cause some cats to lose interest in eating, particularly if you change from a costly premium brand to an economy food. Switching from a canned food, which is highly palatable, to a dried diet will cause many cats to stop eating.

NUTRITIONAL VALUES

It is also important to remember that dried foods represent a much more concentrated form of nutrients, so that a cat will naturally eat less of this type to food to meet its nutritional requirements.

Events in a cat’s life can also affect her appetite. For example, a thunderstorm will often put a nervous cat off eating for a short time, as may fireworks in the neighbourhood. Many cats refuse to eat at first when they are taken to a cattery, or somewhere else away from home. However, things are not always what they seem when it comes to a loss of appetite. Your pet could have found a more appealing source of food elsewhere, either from an unsuspecting neighbour who believes that a stray has adopted them, or by sneaking in through someone else’s cat flap.

Q. My cat seems to play with her food much more these days, eating less. What is the reason?

Your pet may be having difficulty in eating, perhaps due to a dental problem or gum disease. There could be other causes, such as a tumour in the mouth, so arrange a veterinary check-up.

Q. How can I rekindle my cat’s appetite?

Food with a strong odour, such as pilchards in tomato sauce, can encourage a cat to start eating again. Warm food is also more palatable than cold, and pouring gravy on to food makes it more appealing to cats.

Q. How can I prevent my kitten becoming fussy about her food?

If you offer a kitten a range of different types of food early in life, rotating the changes, she will be more adaptable to changes as she grows up.

  • If there is no obvious cause as to why a cat is not eating, a vet can give Vitamin B injections, and there are also special diets to assist a convalescing cat.
  • Cats can survive for long periods without food. A feline survivor of a Taiwanese earthquake was rescued in December 1999, after being buried for 80 days in rubble.
  • The wild ancestors of cats do not feed every day. It is quite usual for them to go hungry for long periods between kills.
  • An emaciated cat is a sad sight. If your cat suffers serious weight loss alongside loss of appetite you should arrange for a check up at the vet’s.

 

Cat Urinary Problems – Feline Urological Syndrome

The urethra is the tube leading from the bladder, through which urine flows out of the body. Any obstruction in this part of the urinary tract is a serious problem, because if the cat cannot pass urine, then the bladder is ultimately likely to rupture — a life-threatening condition. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from feline urological syndrome (PUS), then you must seek veterinary advice without delay.

Male cats are especially prone to urinary problems because they have a longer urethra than females. Check that your cat is urinating regularly and without pain or difficulty.

Q. What is the link between FUS and diet?

When dry cat foods first went on sale, it was thought that they could lead to FUS because they contained high levels of magnesium. This mineral is always found in the material causing the blockage. Manufacturers have since lowered the levels of magnesium.

Q. Why does my vet recommend using a canned food instead?

Another feature of dry food is its very low water content, compared with canned foods. Studies have shown that cats eating dry food may not drink enough to maintain water intake.

Q. Why is the amount of water a cat drinks significant?

Increased water passing through the kidneys and bladder makes the urine less concentrated so that salts are less likely to crystallise and create an obstruction in the urinary tract.

One of the most significant signs of FUS is a change in posture when the cat urinates. Instead of squatting down normally, the cat will rest with its back arched, and will appear to be uncomfortable or in pain. The cat will also lick repeatedly at its urethral opening, and any urine that is passed may be bloodstained. The cause of the problem is likely to be crystalline material, resembling gritty sand, which may have been washed out of the bladder. Urgent treatment is needed to remove the obstruction. Under anaesthetic, a flexible tube called a catheter has to be passed up through the urethral opening, in the direction of the bladder, to restore the urine flow. There may be an underlying infection, which will require antibiotic therapy, and if the cat is dehydrated fluids have to be given.

RECURRENT PROBLEM

Unfortunately, in spite of the best veterinary care, FUS does have a tendency to recur, and under these circumstances, there is no long term solution. In some cases though, especially with male cats who have suffered from recurring FUS, surgery may be required to remove the narrow terminal part of the urethra.

Cat BladderIt is still unclear why some cats seem more vulnerable to this problem than others, or what triggers the disorder. Dietary factors may be involved, and infection or irritation in the urinary tract may also be involved.

  • FUS is sometimes known as urolithasis, which describes the presence of the grit that causes the blockage in the urinary tract.
  • Adding several pinches of salt to a cat’s food can help to prevent recurrence of FUS: it increases thirst, encouraging the cat to drink more water.
  • Cats that are kept indoors for long periods without a litter tray may be more susceptible to FUS because they cannot empty their bladders as often as normal.

 

Fading Kittens – How To Help Sick Kittens

Although queens are usually good mothers, there are sadly occasions when kittens do not thrive after birth, and are at risk of dying. These are often described as fading kittens. There is no single cause of fading, but it is agreed that the protection provided by the mother’s milk in the early stages of life, known as colostrum, helps to ensure the kitten’s health in the crucial period after birth, before its own immune system is fully functional.

Sick KittensOrphaned kittens are at greatest risk of dying in the early stages, simply because they have not had the benefit of their mother’s early milk. ‘Formula’ milk for kittens does not have such a beneficial effect.

Q. What can I do to reduce the likelihood of losing a litter?

Ensure that the queen’s vaccinations are up to date before pregnancy, so that her immunity to infections such as FHV is boosted; this will then be passed on to her kittens.

Olostrum is produced by a queen before she produces full milk. It contains protective antibodies, which can be absorbed directly across the kitten’s intestinal tract into the blood immediately after birth.

In some litters, one kitten may be significantly smaller than the rest, and this kitten is often described as the runt. Such kittens are most likely to die, simply because they are not as strong as their littermates, and may not have obtained adequate colostrum. Supplementary feeding may be needed to help the runt survive, especially in the case of a large litter of six or more kittens.

CONGENITAL WEAKNESSES IN KITTENS

On rare occasions, a kitten may be born with a congenital abnormality, which prevents it thriving. The most common condition of this type is a cleft palate, where the roof of the mouth is not properly sealed over. This will cause milk to run back down the kitten’s nostrils rather than entering the stomach, so that affected individuals will fail to put on weight. One of the commonest infectious causes of fading kittens is feline herpes virus (FHV). This will depress the kittens’ appetites, causing dramatic weight loss to the extent that they probably will fade away and die rapidly. The actual cause of death in such cases is typically pneumonia.

  • There are special milk replacements for kittens, but no substitute for colostrum, so it is better to foster newly-born kittens to a queen with a litter of the same age.
  • One in ten kittens may die in the first fortnight, with whole litters being lost if there is FHV.
  • If all the kittens are failing to thrive, there could be something wrong with the mother, such as mastitis – inflammation of the mammary glands.

Q. Is there any treatment for fading kittens?

This depends on the cause. If FHV is involved, the outlook is very bleak, as antibiotics will not overcome the virus. Supplementary feeding may help, but if the kittens are very weak, this must be done with care, to prevent the onset of pneumonia.

Q. My queen lost her last litter to FHV. Will her next litter be safe?

If she is vaccinated, then the chance of any problem is low. FHV only survives for one day outside the body, so there is no trace of the original virus in your home.

 

Carrying And Handling A Sick Cat

There are two things which you need to do when carrying and handling a sick cat. First, you do not want to stress your cat more than necessary, as it will already be upset and may resent being picked up by you, particularly if it is not your cat. In addition, you must minimise the likelihood of being scratched or bitten yourself, particularly if you are in a part of the world where rabies occurs, as the consequences could otherwise be very serious.

Sick CatAlways reduce the risk of being injured yourself when it comes to handling a sick cat. Wrap the cat, if possible, in a blanket or towel and transport it in a cat carrier. Keep other pets out of the way.

Wrapping a cat in a towel will not only make it easier to transport: it is also advisable when administering pills and medicine.

If it appears that a cat has simply been hit by a passing vehicle, you will still need to take precautions, since it could have been a neurological problem which caused the accident in the first instance.

WHAT TO DO WHEN A CAT IS RUN OVER BY A VEHICLE

It is advisable to wear a reasonably thick pair of leather gloves, to reduce the likelihood that you will be bitten or scratched. Always lift a cat which has been injured in a collision with a vehicle by placing your hands under its body, keeping the cat lying on its side. Never hold the cat up, to stroke its head, for example.

One of the most common injuries after a road traffic accident is a torn diaphragm – the partition which separates the chest and abdominal cavities. Keeping the body flat greatly reduces the likelihood of worsening an injury of this type. Transfer the cat to a suitable carrier, and take it to a vet for a thorough check-up without delay.

OTHER CAT EMERGENCIES

When a cat is vomiting (particularly if it is unconscious), try to hold its head downwards, so that the vomit is not likely to be swallowed again, or worse still, to enter the windpipe where it is likely to lead to inhalation pneumonia.

Always check an unconscious cat to see if its air passage is clear; transport an unconscious cat to the vet as quickly as possible.

Q. My cat can get very wild when he is being carried. How can I stop myself being bitten?

It isn’t easy to muzzle a cat because, unlike most dogs, their jaws are short and rounded. It’s best to restrain a violent cat by gripping it by the scruff of the neck, to control its head movements.

Q. My cat is sick and very distressed. Can I take him to the vet’s in my arms?

No, as the journey is likely to upset him more, and you may not be able to control him in the car. Your cat will be far less upset if you place him in a proper carrier.

Q. My cat has suddenly collapsed. Should I handle him at all?

This is an emergency situation. You need to check for any obstruction at the back of the throat, removing if necessary, and contact your vet.

Cats can inflict very painful scratches with their claws. This is why they should only be carried when you are wearing clothes with long sleeves, which are relatively thick as well. Two layers of clothing offer better protection than one.

A sick cat can be reassured by gentle handling, especially if this is accompanied by quiet, friendly talking, but do not relax your guard. Otherwise, the cat may leap off and could escape through a window or door.

You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling a sick cat, especially as a number of infections can be spread to people.

 

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a difficult virus to identify in its early stages and no effective treatment is presently available for it. Cats diagnosed with the disorder should be kept indoors.

This killer disease is most likely to strike young cats, often affecting the lining of the abdomen which is known as the peritoneum. It is caused by a virus which is most commonly spread by close contact, so cats housed in catteries and taking part in shows on a regular basis are perhaps most vulnerable. It can however strike household pets on occasions, being contracted from other cats in the neighbourhood.

Q. Why is the FIP vaccine less reliable than others?

Feline Infectious PeritonitisThis is because there are so many different strains of the virus responsible for FIP, and it keeps mutating into new forms, so it is hard to ensure protection against every form. Not all strains are harmful.

Q. My cat has had a blood test which proved to be positive for FIP. Does this mean that she will die of the disease?

Not necessarily, since she may have been exposed to a relatively mild strain, but there is a risk that it could be serious. It is not possible to distinguish the different strains of virus from the blood test.

Q. How does FIP spread?

The coronavirus only survives for a short time outside the cat’s body, but it is present in urine and other body fluids.here are usually no obvious

signs following the initial infection by the FIP virus, but in a few cases there may be an upper respiratory tract infection, which can be linked with conjunctivitis. The incubation time before symptoms become apparent is variable, extending from weeks to years, and the initial symptoms themselves may be fairly vague.

WARNING SIGNS

They are likely to include loss of appetite and depression, combined with a raised temperature. The most obvious indicator of this illness is a swelling of the abdomen caused by a build-up of fluid here, although in some cases the disease may alternatively result in the formation of nodules in many of the body organs, including the brain.

TREATMENT

Attempts to treat the cat’s fever with antibiotics fail, simply because these will not overcome the virus. There is now a vaccine available however, although it is not as reliable in guarding against this infection as vaccines used to prevent other diseases, protecting roughly eight out of ten cats. There is also the risk that if the cat is already infected by FIP when it is vaccinated, then this may cause the illness to develop at a faster rate.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

  • vaccine to protect against FIP has to be given by squirting it up the nose until a kitten is 16 weeks old, rather than by injection. This may make it harder to administer successfully.
  • Once a cat develops the swollen abdomen which characterises this disease, it will die within a few weeks.
  • Providing and ensuring that cats use separate litter trays in the home is possibly the best way of preventing the spread of this infection, if you have more than one cat.