Viral diseases

Peritonitis in Cats

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Peritonitis in Cats

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Cats, together with dogs, are the best pets you could ever have. One of the most remarkable features of cats is their independence. However, these animals are also very affectionate and require certain care in order to ensure their complete well-being.

Just like any other animal, cats are susceptible to many diseases. A number of these are infectious, so it is important to be able to identify the symptoms of certain conditions that require urgent treatment.

This AnimalWised article is about peritonitis in cats; we will go over the symptoms and the necessary treatment for this disease.

You may also be interested in: Most Common Viral Diseases in Cats


  1. What is peritonitis in cats?
  2. How is feline infectious peritonitis transmitted?
  3. What are the symptoms of peritonitis in cats?
  4. Diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis
  5. Treatment of peritonitis in cats
  6. Can feline infectious peritonitis be prevented?

What is peritonitis in cats?

Feline infectious peritonitis, also known as by its acronym FIP, is the most common cause of death from infectious diseases in cats.

This disease happens after a failed immune system response; the most accepted hypothesis is that it is caused by feline coronavirus.Under normal conditions the cat's immune system is able to completely remove the virus, but in some cases the immune system response fails, the virus is not removed and ends up causing peritonitis.

The term "peritonitis" indicates inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the membrane that lines the abdominal viscera. However, when it comes to feline infectious peritonitis the term refers to vasculitis, that is, inflammation of blood vessels.

Peritonitis in Cats - What is peritonitis in cats?

How is feline infectious peritonitis transmitted?

Feline peritonitis is common in large groups of cats; however, domestic cats that regularly go outside are also susceptible to infection.

The virus that causes peritonitis in cats infects the animal's body by inhalation or ingestion of the pathogen, found in infected animal's feces and on contaminated surfaces.

Peritonitis in Cats - How is feline infectious peritonitis transmitted?

What are the symptoms of peritonitis in cats?

Symptoms of peritonitis in cats depend on the affected blood vessels as well as the organs they supply blood and nutrients to. There are two forms of the disease, acute and chronic, and they also present different symptoms.

Symptoms of wet or effusive feline infectious peritonitis (acute):

  • Fluid leaves damaged blood vessels causing edemas
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Swollen thorax with decreased lung capacity
  • Respiratory difficulties

Symptoms of dry or non-effusive infectious peritonitis (chronic):

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bad state of the fur
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the mucous membranes)
  • Color changes in the iris
  • Brown spots on the eyeball
  • Bleeding from the eye
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Trembling

If you observe any of these symptoms in your cat, you should go to the vet immediately to get an official diagnosis.

Peritonitis in Cats - What are the symptoms of peritonitis in cats?

Diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis

A definitive diagnosis of this disease can only be made by a biopsy or after the animal's death. Before that happens, however, the vet will request a blood test to assess the following parameters:

  • Albumin: Globulin ratio
  • AGP protein level
  • Coronavirus antibodies
  • Leukocyte level

The vet will be able to make the diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis according to the results.

Peritonitis in Cats - Diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis

Treatment of peritonitis in cats

Feline infectious peritonitis is considered an incurable disease,although occasionally a remission is observed. Therefore, various therapeutic treatment tools can be used and are worth trying out.

Depending on each specific case, the vet may implement the following measures:

  • A highly nutritious diet with nutritional supplements rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Corticosteroid drugs to suppress the immune response of your cat.
  • Antiviral drugs to reduce viral load (Feline Omega Interferon)
  • Antibiotic drugs to prevent other infections as a result of the supressed immune system.
  • Anabolic steroids to increase appetite and prevent the loss of muscle mass.

Remember that the vet is the only person able to recommend a particular treatment and offer a prognosis, which varies depending on each particular case.

Peritonitis in Cats - Treatment of peritonitis in cats

Can feline infectious peritonitis be prevented?

One of the most effective preventive tools is controlling cats who have already been diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis. This requires optimum hygiene of cat accessories and the environment around the animal, as well as a restriction of goings out.

While there is a vaccine against feline infectious peritonitis, studies evaluating its effectiveness are inconclusive and, in some cases, administering it is not recommended. Your vet can evaluate whether this treatment is suitable for your cat.

Peritonitis in Cats - Can feline infectious peritonitis be prevented?

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Peritonitis in Cats, we recommend you visit our Viral diseases category.

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Peritonitis in Cats