The following is an article written by breeder and epidemiologist Cris Bird, Dr. P.H. She has a doctoral degree in public health from UCLA and is also an Old Style (Thais) Siamese breeder at Sarsenstone Cattery.  She shares her excellent article “A Word About FIP” with SOCK FIP.

A Word About FIP by Cris Bird, Dr. P.H.

One of us at Sarsenstone is an epidemiologist, a researcher who specializes in disease prevention and control, so we can’t resist talking a little about how to prevent and control feline infectious peritonitis, FIP.  We also encourage you to ask your veterinarian any questions you may have about FIP.

When you look at cattery ads and websites, you often see “We guarantee our kittens free of feline leukemia and FIV.”  Sometimes you see guarantees that kittens are free of ringworm and FIP, as well.  It is reasonable for a breeder to claim that her kittens are free of feline leukemia and FIV.  There are good screening tests for those diseases.  The tests are not perfect.  No test is.  But they are very, very good, about as good as screening tests can get.  If a breeder tests all new cats for feline leukemia and FIV and does not allow the new cats to join her other cats until she is sure they are negative for those diseases, and if she never allows her cats to wander outdoors, she can be confident, and so can you, that her kittens are leukemia and FIV-free.

Niels C. Pedersen,DVM, PhD; Director Center for Companion Animal Health, University of California, Davis, CA

Over 100 published articles have appeared in the world’s literature concerning FIP since my extensive review of FIP in 2009 (1). The following is a summary of significant findings from a portion of these published works.

Origin of FIPV (the FECV to FIPV mutation)

The debate over the origins of the FIP virus (FIPV) continues to some degree, but there is no doubt that FIPV arises as a mutant of the ubiquitous feline enteric coronavirus (FECV). Although FIPVs are virtually identical genetically to FECVs within the same environment (2-4), FIP causing mutations are nonetheless unique to each cat (2,3,5,16). The nature of the mutations that cause an FECV to change to an FIPV has been the topic of several recent publications. The 3c accessory gene mutations were the first to be implicated in FECV-to-FIPV conversion (reviewed 1) and these findings have been corroborated by additional studies (2,3). However, a group from the University of Utrecht, after sequencing the complete genomes of a large number of FIPVs and FECVs, found a second mutation that occurred only in FIPVs (5). This mutation consisted of one or more single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the fusion domain of the spike (S) gene that caused minor (synonymous) changes in single amino acids within this region.

It is true that there is currently no cure, or totally effective prevention. But researchers understand the virus and the infection much better now. They have new tools that allow them to look at viruses at the molecular level. Any knowledge about the virus and how the host cat responds to it will have influence down the road. The Feline Genome has been sequenced, and with this important new feline DNA roadmap researchers will be able to identify viral genes responsible for causing disease (which will facilitate antiviral drug development) and host genes that confer resistance/susceptibility (which will facilitate genetic control).

A vaccine has been developed and is available. However, it has to be used in kittens at least 16 weeks of age (most cats are already exposed to coronavirus at this age), it is not effective in cats already exposed to coronavirus (which is most...


SOCK FIP can now receive donations through PayPal. All donations to SOCK FIP will support FIP Research at UC Davis