The FIP diagnosis algorithm for cat guardians Chapter 1. Step 1. The cat’s history 1. Has the cat had an opportunity to catch the virus? 2. Has the cat experienced a stress? Step 2. The cat’s clinical signs (symptoms) Maybe wet FIP? Maybe dry FIP? see table 1 see table 2 Step 3. The vet takes a sample of fluid 1. A Rivalta test can be performed at the veterinary surgery – see below for details in the text 2. Other, simple, tests can be performed at the surgery or sent to a laboratory 3. An in-house feline coronavirus antibody test may be performed (sometimes these are mis-called FIP tests) Step 3. The vet takes a sample of blood 1. Haematology and biochemistry tests performed in the surgery 2. An in-house feline coronavirus antibody test may be performed (sometimes these are mis-called FIP tests) FIP ruled out Step 4. The vet sends samples off to a specialist laboratory 1. A specialised FCoV antibody test may be performed 2. Effusion or fine needle aspirate* may be sent for FCoV RT-PCR 3. A sample may be sent for AGP testing 4. A biopsy may be performed FIP ruled out FIP still suspected FIP still suspected Step 5. Your cat either has FIP and begins treatment (see chapter 2) or has some other condition requiring different treatment or more tests Other tests Other tests *A fine needle aspirate is where a needle is put into a lump and some cells are drawn off – this technique can save the cat the trauma of investigative surgery
Pancho’s story Chapter 1.
Chapter 3. Fig 3.1 This is Tommy: look at how his pupils are the same size in this photograph taken in 2007 and both irises (the coloured part) are the same colour In 2010, Tommy’s pupils are now different sizes and the shape of his left pupil (on the right in the photograph) is uneven, notice also that the left iris (the coloured part) differs from the right iris - it is darker. These worrying developments warranted a veterinary investigation and fortunately he was found to be suffering from toxoplasmosis, which was treatable, not FIP. However had it been FIP, I would have instigated interferon omega treatment immediately. Tommy is still alive and well in 2012, at time of writing.
Chapter 3. Fig 3.2 Eye changes (uveitis) in a cat with dry FIP Note the subtle discolouration (white arrow pointing to reddish-greyish part) at the edge of this cat’s iris – this is called uveitis, and is a sign of dry FIP (though can also be caused by other conditions which may be treatable, e.g. toxoplasmosis).
Chapter 3. WSAVA body condition score chart: Source : www.wsava.org/PDF/Misc/WSAVA_GlobalNutritionalAssessmentGuidelines_2011.pdf
Chapter 4. Figure 4.1 FCoV infected kitten littermates tend to be different sizes Photo courtesy of Allan May Figure 4.2 Kittens who are FCoV free tend to be similar in size Photo courtesy of Max and Winifred Robertson
Chapter 5. The story of Max and Lo Photo courtesy of David Mastin.
Chapter 5. This is Mirabelle in 2010 Mirabelle in 2007.
Fig 6.1 Every cat should have his or her own pen with perspex doors to communal corridors and natural ventilation to the outside Chapter 6. Note that potential cat guardians can only interact with the cats using a toy and that each cat has his or her own toy. This minimises indirect transmission of infectious organisms on their clothing or hands to other cats and kittens. Note the wire mesh to the outside – ensuring the cat has plenty of clean, fresh air. Cats have a high-sided bed, so they can hide if they feel stressed. The bed contains a heated cat blanket. There is a perspex front to each cage, ensuring that dust from cat litter (as well as air-borne infections such as cat flu viruses) cannot circulate in the communal corridor, which prevents infection of other cats.
Chapter 6. Figure 6.2 A clumping cat litter The litter in this photograph is World’s Best Cat Litter.
Chapter 6. Figure 6.3 The trays in the top photograph on the left contain World’s Best Cat Litter: you can see here, after a couple of days, that although there are some particles of cat litter outside the box, it hasn’t travelled far. Compare it with the photograph below – the litter tray containing pelleted wood cat litter had been put in less than an hour before the photograph was taken, and already you can see to the right of the basket that there is litter all over the floor.
Chapter 6. Figure 6.4 Notice the good hygiene practice in that each pen has its own brush and shovel and that the pen number is written on them. However, unfortunately the pens have wire mesh fronts, opening into a communal corridor with shared air space. This shelter was in the process of building better runs but meanwhile was implementing best practice it could.
Chapter 6. Figure 6.5 Store clean cat litter away from sources of possible contamination – in this shelter which I visited, I found that the used cat litter was put into open bins right beside the clean litter and dry cat food. In addition, it was the worst kind of cat litter that was used - wood pellets - so that a cloud of contaminated sawdust floated onto the new litter and food every time the dirty cat litter was dumped into the bin – no wonder there were FIP outbreaks at this shelter! Sometimes it is worth calling in a consultant to examine your premises and your routines in order to spot where infection is coming from and how it is being spread.
Chapter 6. Figure 6.6 The outdoor part of the cat pens at Leicester RSPCA shelter Although this cat could see and hear dogs in the shelter who were just a few metres (yards) opposite, he was relaxed and secure, able to run up a ramp and through the cat flap to his own indoor pen whenever he chose.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not extinguish it.” John 1. Photo of Darcy, who died of FIP, by kind permission of Heather Twidle