Can FIP be spread this way?

by Jen
(Washington)

My kitten passed away of FIP three days ago. I have kept the blanket she loved, often laid on, and "suckled—" so it likely has some of her dried saliva on it.

Without thinking, I brought this to my friend's house, where their adult cat sniffed it for several moments. She did not lick it.

Could FIP spread to the other cat this way?

RESPONSE:

I’m sorry that you lost your kitty. Most cats that develop FIP are under two years of age, but cats of any age may develop the disease. Although taking the blanket to your friend’s house wasn’t wise, unless their cat has already been exposed to Feline Enteric Corona-Virus (FECV) it is highly unlikely anything will occur. A strong household detergent does a good job of killing the virus.

FIP, although a complex disease, is not a highly contagious disease. By the time the cat shows clinical signs of the disease only a small amount of virus is being shed. However, the contagious part is the Feline Enteric Corona-Virus (FECV) that can mutate into FIP.

Many people are not aware that (FECV) is very common and is passed by inhaling or ingesting the virus, most commonly the transmission source is feces. The mouth and nose that come into direct contact with infected feces can happen when a cat smells the litter box prior to using it and then spreads it…even with mutual grooming. The virus can live in the environment for many weeks…3 to 7 weeks is an example of the length of time the virus persists on dried feces in cat litter. Yes, contaminated items like food dishes and clothing (or blankets) can transmit the virus as well.

However, although numerous cats can be exposed to FECV, the virus has to mutate into the FIP causing form with the chances increasing for cats that are immune-compromised. This includes very young and older cats (typically over 13 years old). Many cats will never develop FIP because their immune systems put the FECV in check and they may only have a mild case of diarrhea as their immune system creates antibodies against the virus and so there is no opportunity for the virus to mutate. It won’t be eliminated but it will remain in the intestinal tract causing no problems.

Occasionally this harmless intestinal coronavirus mutates and is able to leave the intestinal tract where the immune system once again tries to control it, but loses the battle... resulting in FIP. So if your friend’s cat hasn’t been exposed to the coronavirus everything should be okay. It will be a good idea to thoroughly clean the house with a good detergent if you decide to get another cat so you eliminate any possibility of the virus surviving.


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