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Barn Kitty PTS w/FIP: keeping other cats safe?

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  • Barn Kitty PTS w/FIP: keeping other cats safe?

    Sorry for the cryptic title, but we had to PTS our adorable fluffy black and white barn kitten today, due to FIP. Feline Infectious Perotinitis is always fatal, and he was rapidly declining. I've googled FIP, but how do I prevent the other kitten (two months older, and the picture of good health, go figure!) from getting sick, too, in a barn situation?

    How do I sterilize a barn???

    I've switched all food and water bowls out for clean ones, but the litter box can't be thrown out right now, I have no replacement. I guess I'll have to empty it and wash with bleach water?

    Anyway, godspeed Toby Toes. You were my morning cuddle, my eater of toast and tasty tidbits, my little complainer, and DH's shoulder rider. You'll be the last kitten we get. I've lost 2 kittens in the past 4 months, and my oldest house cat. I can't do this anymore.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

  • #2
    So sorry to hear about your kitties. We've had a bad run on cats recently as well, including losing one to FIP.

    My vet explained it like this: FIP is a form of feline coronavirus. In my case, vet said it was likely my other cat already had the coronavirus, but there's a catch. Most cats who have the coronavirus come down with a little cold, develop antibodies, and get better no problem. FIP happens when the corona virus actually mutates inside the individual cat, and triggers an autoimmune response. Cats who are sick and subsequently PTS due to FIP have developed the mutated virus, and the reason they get so sick is the mutated virus tricks the immune system into attacking the kitties own body. Among coronavirus exposed cats, only 5% develop FIP. And there's no garuntee your other kitty even contracted the coronavirus (there is a test, but it's expensive, and sort of inconclusive, in our case we did not test the other cat).

    If you clean the cat box with some bleach and fill it with clean litter, then you've done everything you can, the coronovirus is generally believed to be passed through feces. I was told new cats could feasibly be brought home right away, and the risk they'd run would be very low. In our case, our remaining cat who must have been exposed, is as healthy as she's ever been, and she was seriously sick with other issues when she was exposed to the coronavirus.

    FIP was a totally scary thing to go through, in a lifetime of owning cats I'd never heard of it before. It was devastating, and we never thought we'd get more cats again after going through the illness and the inevitable PTS part of the story. Of course, as I type this, there's two new kittens on my lap, but it was a long time before we were comfortable bringing more home.

    I'm sorry to hear what you've been through. I hope all that I typed makes sense, and helps to ease your worry some...


    • #3
      I've lost two kittens and one adult cat to FIP--they were fosters for our local
      humane society. Our vet feels it is transmitted from the mother. There's a wet form and a dry form. Tests inconclusive. There is/was a vaccine but not very
      effective and the cat more inclined to develop if super stressed.

      The adult was an outside cat--his mother was neighborhood wanderer who
      showed up with 3 kittens. Two we managed to tame down. Mom eventually
      wandered off again (but spayed when she did). The other tame brother hung around for a year or so and then disappeared.

      Several years later, had a bottle baby kitten who seemed fine in the morning at bottle time. She was also eating solid food. Early evening she put herself to bed and just thought she wore herself out playing with the "big" boy older kittens. At night bottle time, she seemed to have trouble breathing and felt worm. Off to the Animal ER-her lungs were 95% filled with fluid. They didn't know if it was pneumonia or FIP but she was so little, they didn't think they could save her. So we put her down and I took her home. Our regular vet called next day and asked to do a necroscopy and it was FIP.

      A few months later, another bottle baby developed it--he was about 7-8 weeks
      at the time. His brother was fine. Went through several weeks of trying to diagnose and finally they did a stomach tap and pulled fluid. He was tough to lose as he was a "heart" kitty type.

      A few months later, I had a litter of 3 Siamese type bottle babies. All was well,
      they got spayed and into homes. One of them was diagnosed with FIP a few
      months later and she had to put Sadie to sleep.

      From what I found reading up on FIP, I'd let enough time go by between the
      kittens for the virus to die off in the house. Want to say 6-7 weeks. Fostered
      22 other kittens that year and none of the others were affected.

      It's a terrible disease...reminds me of EPM in horses although far more fatal. Another foster mom took a pregnant beautiful white fluffy female cat home to foster. She had a bunch of white fluffy kittens and all seemed well until it was
      time to spay and neuter the kittens. The spay incisions revealed the fluid buildup--all the kittens and the mom were put to sleep. Took the foster mom a while to bring home more fosters.


      • #4
        So sorry FIP is a terrible disease.

        Bottom line is you can't - the corona virus vaccine was shown to be completely ineffective (may even be off the market now).
        You can lessen the chances of personal experience with cats & FIP by NOT adopting Rescue Kittens/Cats (especially those that come out of urban feral colonies) - sometimes entire litters are slowly lost to FIP (disease progress may be relatively acute (months) or chronic (years)), other times a single kitten is the only loss.

        Good nutrition & health management of your barn cats is the best thing you can do to prevent diseases such as FIP, FIV, FeLV, FHV-1 etc.


        • #5
          I am so sorry for your loss, Calvincrowe. I have a kitty with possible FIP (when she was spayed the vet found telltale fluid, but she still looks in good health). We are just waiting for her to start to decline. It is heartbreaking -- she is the sweetest kitten I have ever had and sleeps on my chest every night. I don't know what I'll do without her.

          I have other cats, so I've done a lot of reading, and talked to the vet, and basically the latest research is that there really isn't anything to be done to protect them, as suziebe explained. Most cats are exposed to the virus already, sort of like the common cold, it just mutates in a few to become FIP. The vet said our other cats would likely be fine unless they were really unlucky too, and anyhow it was too late because they were already exposed since they've been around her for several months. Any future cats will be exposed through them as long as they are still alive -- and would probably be exposed anyway before they got here if they were in a pound as coronavirus is so prevalent.


          • Original Poster

            Aw, thanks guys. This morning was tough--no little black fluff ball whinging at me to pick him up and give him his breakfast. Mr. CC is pretty sad too, as Toby was his "shoulder kitty"--climbing up for rides, sitting up there while dad ate breakfast (and fed him bites).

            We're pretty understanding that life is fragile and the kitten we lost earlier this summer to pneumonia probably had this as well, and we probably got Toby too soon, without realizing it.

            I'm emptying and bleaching the cat boxes, cleaning all cat surfaces with bleach cleaner.

            We'll bury our baby in our little pet cemetery, right next to Curly the other baby we lost. My dear old Pooh Kitty can watch over the wee ones from her place of honor there.
            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


            • #7
              Sorry for your loss, CC - just remember, God abhores a cat vacuum. My sister "rehomed" a barn kitten just two days ago, (people drop off kittens at her farm all the time, most of them too young to have made it there on their own, too small to really be away from mom). She pays to have them vetted and neutered, and if they pass muster for barn cat material, they stay (she currently has (wait while I count) four, not counting the huge feral male that hangs out in the rafters and never comes near. This one was, cute, cuddly, velcro callico kitty, just not "barn cat" material, needed it's own person and an indoor "safe" environment (not exactly a brain trust). That very afternoon, shortly after sis left our office, our sales manager comes in with a tabby male kitten, about the same age as the one we just rehomed, who managed to cross a busy road to get to her and followed her back into the office and proceeded to make himself at home on my desk. I call sis and say "do you still have the cat carrier in the back of your car, and will you bring it back?" NO, she says.... twice. Ok, I say, I'll just put him in a box, I'll drop by the barn on my way home. ARRRGH, she says, not again. Yep, God abhores a cat vacuum, small tabby boy gorged himself on kibble and found himself a hidey hole in the hay bales for the night, came bouncing out for breakfast the next morning. He is currently making himself at home in sis's barn, and seems to be fitting in with the other kitties. So, allow yourself time to grieve, sounds like you have a warm heart just waiting for the next furry one to bring you laughter and love.
              Just remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels.


              • #8
                This is horrible. I've never heard of it before. So sorry about the kitty.
                I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


                • #9
                  Calvincrowe, I am sorry for your loss. Your little kitty sounds like a cutie. I know it's sad, but I hope you will change your mind because there are so many cats that need homes. I adopted two cats from a shelter in 1982. When Mattie was 5, we learned that he had FIP. He lived to the age of 7, but his housemate lived to the age of 20, so there can be small miracles.

                  Calvin, it is very hard to lose them, but I'm sure in time another kitty will find you, and what a lucky kitty that will be.


                  • #10
                    I'm so sorry. What a terrible disease. I hand raised a litter of feral kittens and one of them died of FIP at a little over a year on age. She was the sweetest cat ever. I was very concerned and the research I did at thet ime said it was spread by fecal matter. So, yeah, clean every surface you can think of with bleach solution. Dispose of any bedding.
                    Knocking on wood that none of my others got it.
                    It's by far the worst cat disease.
                    I'm so sorry for your loss of the little kitten.


                    • #11
                      I am terribly sorry for you losing your kitty to FIP. I lost a young cat to FIP and it was a heartbreaking experience. She was a character and had so much zest for life. Here are some things I learned which might be helpful...

                      I learned through my research that FIP is really not very contagious. Most cats are exposed to the corona virus and yet never contract FIP. For some reason some cats have a gap in their immune system which makes them more vulnerable. None of my other cats (three housecats and two barncats), who were exposed for her entire illness, developed FIP. Of course its still safest to sterilize or just replace the litterboxes. People used to panic and euth their exposed cats which is a tragic mistake.

                      I tried to treat my cat with an experimental immune booster (Propanol I think?)which is being studied at the University of Tennessee. It did not save my kitty's life but it did give her an extra month or two of quality life. They say they have saved some kitty's lives with it.

                      Steroids will provide short term comfort too, but ultimately they suppress the immune system and its hopeless to fight an illness if your immune system is suppressed.


                      • #12
                        I'm very sorry for your loss I would be devastated if this happened to my zine zine or zozman.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by alto View Post
                          So sorry FIP is a terrible disease.

                          Bottom line is you can't - the corona virus vaccine was shown to be completely ineffective (may even be off the market now).
                          You can lessen the chances of personal experience with cats & FIP by NOT adopting Rescue Kittens/Cats (especially those that come out of urban feral colonies) - sometimes entire litters are slowly lost to FIP (disease progress may be relatively acute (months) or chronic (years)), other times a single kitten is the only loss.

                          Good nutrition & health management of your barn cats is the best thing you can do to prevent diseases such as FIP, FIV, FeLV, FHV-1 etc.
                          Can someone explain what FIP really is? Is it more so outdoor cats that contract this?

                          And I wish I could agree with you Alto about disease prevention especially Feline Luk because I gave my 3 year old indoor, F-Leuk NEG. cat anything he needed health, care and other... he, later in life tested positive and passed away 2 weeks later. He never went outside. His sisters (whom I still have) are still negative. It was heartbreaking to say the least.

                          I am having some issues with his sister these days. She has blood in her stool which I was told is coloius, and a UTI. She is on her second string of anti-inflammatory mixed with antibiotic and still she has blood in her stool and is peeing where she sleeps which is not like her, cats don't do that.

                          Is there a special test for FIP? Reading this thread is freaking me out! Calvin SO very sorry for the loss of your kitty


                          • Original Poster

                            Simply put, FIP is a bad complication of the corona virus, that nearly all cats have been exposed to. The very young and the very old are most susceptible to this mutation of the virus. Those with suppressed immune systems are the most likely to get FIP. FIP comes in the dry and wet form. There is no test per se that you can give a cat.

                            What my vet told me to watch for:

                            Weight loss, fever or lethargy, yellowing of skin, dark urine, a "pot belly" caused by fluid filling the abdomen. This is the wet form. This is what my Toby had. There is no cure, just treatment of symptoms. They don't seem to feel pain with this, just NQR.

                            As to prevention? Keep young and old cats separate (older cats 3-9 rarely get this, as they've been exposed and "survived" the corona virus, and are have healthy immune systems). Disinfect cat boxes and feeders as it is spread mostly by fecal matter, but saliva is a possibility as well. Use bleach solution.

                            I'm not afraid that my others have it. They are all in that "good age range" and are very healthy. I've cleaned feeders and cat boxes.
                            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                            • #15
                              I am so sorry for your loss...

                              Having just dealt with the Dry form of FIP, I know how heartwrenching it is.

                              My little Grizzly Bear lost his battle with suspected Dry FIP on September 3rd of this year, in the middle of the night at the Emergency Clinic. He was 2 years old, and had been one of my bottle babies. He and his little sister, Koala Bear, came to me at 2 weeks old after being found in a dumpster by a co-worker (I work at a small animal vet clinic). They were the best little babies, and did quite well until I came home to find that Koala had passed away at 14 weeks old. She had always been smaller than normal for her age, and had an almost dwarf like conformation. We chaulked it up to some congenial defect.

                              Fast forward 2 years. Grizzly Bear becomes anemic, out of the blue. We treated that, and within days, he was much improved. several months later, his eyes went cloudy literally overnight. We took him immediatly to the opthamologist, who indicated that she thought it was Dry FIP. We visited with the internist, who performed an ultrasound to try to issolate leisions on his liver to do a needle asperate. The ultrasound was completely normal, so we were still dealing with only SUSPECTED dry FIP, not an actualy diagnosis (which I learned is nearly impossible to get) He gave us the option of doing a abdominal exploratory suregery to biopsy pretty much anything that might diagnose FIP inorder to get him into the FIP study at University of Tennessee involving an immuno stimulant, called polyprenyl immunostimulant. He also said, that we could wait to see if one of his eyes would need to be removed, as that would be the most likely place to find the leisions, and a much less invassive procedure. I could not consent to cutting him open from stem to stern, so we opted to treat the eyes, and checked them every other week. Within 2 months, he had developed glaucoma in his right eye, and it was reccommeded that it be removed and sent in for the pathologists that specialize in FIP to review. His removed eye was looked at by no less than 5 pathologists, and all thought that it was probably non textbook FIP, but none could fine the leisions that they needed to find, to actually call it FIP so he could enter the study. At this point, Grizzly was doing good. He was on his meds, adjusting to life with only one eye, and being loved more than any kitty could be loved.

                              2 weeks after the eye removal, I found Grizzly had neurologic symptoms, whish was the begining of the end. We treated with steroids, which helped a ton. He would have a few good days, and then a bad day. We would adjust his meds, and he would improve dramatically. Back to the internist. I learned that FIP can migrate to the brain and spinal cord, but typically when it gets to that point, there is NO improvement, only declines. We continued to treat, thinking (hoping) that he might have had a stroke, or had fallen unnoticed. He continued to improve, only to have a bad day here and there. Still nothing from the pathologists regarding a diagnosis, except for they were still working on getting him into the study.

                              Eventually, he started to decline, with no improvements, and there was a very real moment when his qualityof life became compromised. I had decided to take him with me to work the next day to have him PTS, but as I was laying on the couch with him snuggled up on my chest, telling him how much we loved him, and so wanted him to live a long life, but that it was OK to go, at 2:30 in the morning, he suffered a grand maul seizure and never woke up. We rushed him to the emergency clinic to have him PTS, as we was not awake, but still alive. He made the decision, I only wish he had held on until the next day so he could have gone more peacefully.

                              I had promised him that I would keep trying as long as he did, and as long as his quality of life was good. FIP is heartbreaking, I have dealt with the dry form with him, and the wet form with a young litter of foster kittens. Strides are being made with treatments for Dry FIP, but wet FIP is always fatal, and almost always within weeks or days of diagnosis. FIP itself is not passed from cat to cat. The coronavirus, like others have already said, it what mutates into FIP virus. something like 90% of cats are exposed to the coronavirus in their lifetime, and only 5% will develop FIP.

                              Losing Grizzly Bear was one of the hardest losses I've dealt with. He was far too young to leave this world. He was my little kitty love, and I will always love and miss him terribly.

                              Sorry for the longwinded post, just hope you know that there are others who have had to deal with this horrible virus. Good luck with your other kitties.

                              "Animals can sometimes take us to a place that we cannot reach ourself"

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