Cat FIP life expectancy

It is estimated that 30 to 40% of all domestic cats have been exposed to the feline enteric coronavirus, a common disease of domestic cats. In catteries that figure rises to 80 to 90%. Three quarters of cats exposed to the virus experience no apparent infection. Of the cats who do, they have a mild respiratory infection and become carriers of the virus without symptoms.

Mr. Swanson succumbed to FIP at 17 months
Mr. Swanson succumbed to FIP at 17 months
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Fewer than 1% of all exposed cats develop what is called a secondary fatal disease known as FIP (feline infectious peritonitis).

Once a cat develops signs of the secondary disease which is present in either the “wet or dry form” he will die. With the wet form of the disease, cats often die within 2 months. Cats with the dry form may live up to a year with a decent quality of life. You can read more about the disease if you click on the link below.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) in Plain Language

In answer, therefore, to the question in the title, the maximum life expectancy is about 1 year but it may be a shorter at 2 months.

Medications can make an infected cat’s life more comfortable. Life may be prolonged with chemotherapy or immunosuppressive doses of cortisone. Vitamin supplementation i.e. vitamin C can be helpful. Some cats benefit from low doses of aspirin which reduces inflammation. A drug called Trental has been used to treat damage to blood vessels. The virus damages capillary blood vessels especially those of the abdomen, eyes, brain internal organs and lymph nodes which results in fluid loss into tissues and body spaces.

Hope this helps.

Source: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook. 3rd ed pages 86-87. Buy this book.

5 thoughts on “Cat FIP life expectancy”

  1. This is a horrible disease; more devastating than FIV or Felv.
    I had 2 sweet kittens succumb to this without warning. Their mother is here and in good health.
    Like most people, I don’t understand this at all. It strikes with very little warning, and there is no cure.

  2. For me, the million dollar question is what exactly happens to cause a cat that’s been exposed to the coronavirus to develop FIP. This disease has struck my pet cats particularly hard; out of the 8 cats and kittens I’ve had in my lifetime, 3 have succumbed to the disease. It’s been difficult for me to find definitive information about FIP, but from what I gather, genetics and stress can play a big role. Possibly, over-vaccinating can be a factor as well.

    Of my cats that fell victim to FIP, one was a mixed breed kitten from a litter of a friend’s cat, another was a purebred Maine Coon kitten, and the last was an 8 year-old. The mixed breed kitten died nearly 20 years ago and the 8 year-old and the Maine Coon kitten died within 2 months of each other in 2014/2015 after they had been at my home only a few months. In all cases, I had other cats who had played with them, ate with them, shared the litter box, etc., but did not come down with FIP.

    I’d been under the assumption that adult cats do NOT develop FIP, so I was especially shocked when my 8 year-old was diagnosed with the disease. I’m assuming he had gone through a great deal of stress by the time I brought him home from the shelter. Not only had he been driven hundreds of miles to a shelter from a hoarding situation after his caretaker had passed away, but he’d been neutered and fully vaccinated during what must have been a frightening time for him. Also, at the shelter he shared a room with dozens of other cats. He started showing FIP symptoms a couple of weeks after my Maine Coon kitten (who was his best buddy) passed away from the disease. This leads me to believe that stress does play a very large role in the disease…

    Needless to say, FIP is one disease I’d like to see wiped off the face of the earth, or at the very least, be less of a mystery so we know how to avoid it.

    • Many thanks Rena for your very interesting comment. I’m so sorry too the about your sad story losing your cats to this nasty disease. I will look into what you say about why this disease kicks off in just 1% of cats. I think by the way that you are correct when you say that stress plays a role in this. I will try and do some research to see whether I can write a follow-up article on the particular point that you make.


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