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Dr.Wally
Dr.Wally, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 673
Experience:  20 years experience in Veterinary field.
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About 3 weeks ago, we visited friends who have a cat. In conversation,

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About 3 weeks ago, we visited friends who have a cat. In conversation, they mentioned that their cat had been eating very little over the last month and had lost a lot of weight. I had encouraged them to take their cat to the vet, but they said unless the cat showed other signs, they just didn't find it necessary! A few days later, their cat took a turn for the worse and they finally took him to the vet. He had developed Fatty Liver Disease from not eating. He was in liver failure and had severe anemia. They were able to give him 2 blood transfusions and sent him home a few days later with a feeding tube, still in critical condition. Through bloodwork and tests, they ruled out FELV, FIV and any blood parasites. They said all of the tests they did for FIP came back negative, but they still could not be sure if it was the cause or not.

I have a 4 1/2-year old cat at home who had the PU surgery 2 1/2 years ago and has had recurrent UTIS ever since. He sees his vet once a month, and she has had him on supplements and pro-biotics for the past year to boost his immune system. I am concerned that if my friend's cat does indeed have FIP or even the FECOV virus, that we may have unknowingly brought it home on our clothes after visiting them. I have read that the virus can live up to 7 weeks. I obviously have washed our clothes since then, and we never actually touched their cat while we were there, but what about litter or contaminated dust sticking to our shoes? It has been 3 weeks since we were at their house, and I am just so worried that we might have already exposed our cat to it unknowingly. What is the likelyhood of this?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr.Wally replied 6 years ago.

Dr.Wally :

Well the good news is that you have not likely transmitted this FIP virus to your cat. I will try to explain, but understand that there is a lot that is unknown about FIP still. The first thing to understand is that it is a mutated version of a common virus, the feline corona virus. Something happens and the virus mutates. Researchers are not convinced that it can be transmitted at that point at all from cat to cat. They suspect that in catteries with a lot of cats, the same corona virus is transmitted, prior to mutating, and then mutates inside the cat, causing FIP. In reasearch settings, they have not been able to transmit FIP from infected cat to uninfected one. I still wouldn't advise trying this with your cat, but with the current knowledge, I can tell you that your cat is likely safe.

Customer:

Even though they did all of the tests, why were they unable to determine for sure if my friend's cat has FIP? And do cats with FIP still shed the FCOV virus? 3 weeks after exposure, should I still worry about this virus potentially being active on my shoes?

Dr.Wally :

There isn't any reliable test for FIP because it is a mutant virus. If you test for corona, you'll get a positive result in most cats, but that doesn't mean it is positive for FIP. You should not have to worry about the corona virus infecting your cat. Most adult cats have been exposed. I'd have to look up how long the virus stays infective, but it is not a very stable virus. Proper disinfecting of your clothes and shoes should suffice if you are worried.

Customer:

If so many cats are exposed to the virus, how is it that so few actually develop FIP?

Dr.Wally :

Because it is only in a small percentage that the virus mutates and causes FIP. It is very rare, luckily.

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