Saturday, August 7, 2010

FIP. Is it or isn't it?!

This is Santee.
She is one of 4 calico kittens I am fostering.
They have had a rough start, and have overcome some tough times
When they came to me on June 20th, 2010 they were suffering from a nasty parasite. With some special care and medication they were able to get well and strong.
Eight days later, on June 28th, Santee developed a swollen belly that is still there after several de-wormers, antibiotics and changes in diet.
On July 4th, Santee had a high fever, we went to the vet and she said it looked like FIP and took some fluid from her belly to test. The result "at this time it does not look like FIP."
Ok, so we exhaled a little bit. She told me to keep de-worming and bring her back in 3 to 4 weeks. As her fever was finishing running its course, her sister, Teton, got a fever. Then Tanka, all fevers ran their course within 5 days.
Here is a picture of Santee on July 10, 2010.
All this time, all 4 kittens are gaining weight, playing, snuggling, pouncing, and playing tag. They are doing all the things a normal kitten should.
So, on July 29th, we went back to the vet. She still feels strongly it is FIP. She runs an FIP Elisa test which came out negative. This time I not only exhaled, I cried like a baby with relief. So we talked about what it might be, could it be a congenital organ issue, a disease of one of her organs, this, that. What are the next steps? Ultrasound, bloodwork, another fecal sample?
She said call me back in 4 to 6 weeks to do the test again. :(
Can someone just tell me what else it MIGHT be?
What other condition shows the symptoms of a swollen abdomen
and a fever but otherwise healthy?
See them in this video!
This is today, August 7, 2010.
Santee is of course the one with the very large belly.

So I suggest we go to another vet I like because he always looks at things from every angle. He never just says "it looks like this" but instead says "it looks like this, but we have to consider x, y, and z because it could be ....". That is who I thought we were going to see.
But, instead he said:
  • The belly doesn't look or feel like an FIP belly, hers is tight and I can feel her organs, an FIP belly is like a water balloon, you can't really feel the organs and you can see a wave of fluid when you pat it - this made me think "Yippee"
  • Then he said, well they are fighting off the fevers, this shows they have a strong immune system, FIP cases usually don't have strong immune systems and can't fight them off - again I am thinking "Yippee"
  • Then I heard this, and my jaw hit the floor and all the wind was knocked out of me "She has a big belly and she's a kitten, I think its FIP" - to which I thought "WHAT???"
  • So the rescuer asks him, ok, so if it isn't FIP, and we know it very well might be, what else might it be? To which he answered, "I think its FIP". AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
And so he recommended we wait for fecal results and, well, that's about it. He said not to do the bloodwork because if he found something in the blood it would not change his course of action which is do a fecal and give them antibiotics in case of a bacteria infection.
And here they are today, playing their little kitty hearts out,
not knowing anything is wrong at all.

So here we are, in search of a vet that has a scientific approach, that will have an open mind and not just see a belly and say "FIP". A vet that will investigate not only FIP, but other possibilities as well as FIP. Honestly, if these kittens started showing other signs of FIP, I would not be questioning their diagnosis. I would be making them as comfortable as possible until the day they become uncomfortable and there is nothing I can do for them. When they start suffering and it is time to let them go.
I worry, what if it is something else that we are not looking at and this condition worsens and they get ill because we were sitting around waiting for them to show signs of FIP.
This is Santee, and she may or may not have FIP.
August 7, 2010
What I know for sure is that she is a fighter, she loves playing and snuggling as much as any other kitty out there and she deserves a fair chance at life and a proper investigation into her symptoms for a proper diagnosis. She does not deserve guesses, and we won't stop looking until we get some answers.

So this is what I am asking you:
  • Has anyone ever seen a kitten have a swollen belly for more than 6 weeks without any of the other FIP symptoms of lethargy, appetite loss, or pain (after 6 weeks of healthy living) begin suffering from FIP?
  • Does anyone know of any other conditions that involve a swollen abdomen, a short term fever and otherwise healthy?
  • Does anyone know a vet (I am out of options) in NYC that has a scientific mind, that will work with us to investigate this in a scientific way (not by popular opinion) that has experience dealing with or researching FIP?
Here is a shot of Santee's belly,
but I recommend you see the videos to get a better view.
Please note, Santee will be snuggled, played with and loved with or without FIP.
If it turns out she has FIP we will do what we can to help her.
If she gets the terrible symptoms of FIP and her quality of life begins to decline and she begins to suffer, we will let her go peacefully and painlessly.
But while she is healthy, while all 4 are healthy, we will keep investigating.
Thank you for reading this and please pass it on to anyone you know that may be able to help.
If you have experience with this or a suggestion please email me at

UPDATE 3/26/11
This was not FIP. It turned out to be a blood parasite. The girls became healthy and were all adopted!
I was advised by Irene de Villiers on the Yahoo Group FIP_Support.
If you are worried or need info go there.
She also runs the Yahoo Group FIP-to-HEALTH.
I suggest anyone with a cat or kitten diagnosed with FIP join these 2 groups asap.

Irene's website - excellent up-to-date information.


  1. i'm sorry they can't give you a definite diagnosis, i kind of hate it when vets do that 'well it looks like this so IT MUST BE THIS' thing, it undermines their credibility. unfortunately i dont know any vets who are more progressive. but FIP is not an automatic death sentence is it? i believe cats in otherwise good health may be able to recover from FIP so even if it's worst-case scenario they may still make it through okay. i am glad to hear they sound like they're doing great otherwise. good vibes are going your way, we need some good news around here!

  2. hi, i have been researching FIP. I have a very long story that has to do with one kitten out of a litter of five (took in the pregnant mom). He supposedly has FIP, but no other kittens are sick. I can't even properly think to type all of this out. Have you found out anything? my email is

  3. LAUREN:
    I'm emailing you now.

    I was advised (and the kittens are doing great) by Irene de Villiers on the Yahoo Group FIP_Support. If you are worried or need info go there.

    Irene's website - excellent up-to-date information.

  4. Hi. I too have a kitten (now 8 months old) that has a large belly, has since we got her at 2 months old, thought it was worms, de-wormed her twice & nothing changed. I got all the test, fecal, bloodwork, etc., with the same Dx from my long trusted vet...."It could be FIP, but we just have to wait & see." I dont wait very well. It has now been 2 months since her tests, & she is still a happy, healthy, full of energy kitty & loves to eat & play with her brothers & sister & her dog mom...(that's another story for another day). How are Santee & her kitty siblings doing now? Did you ever find out what it was that was making her belly so big? Did your other kitties get sick? I have 4 other cats in my house & want to make sure everyone is ok. Please feel free to email me

  5. Stephanie, I also took in a stray about 2 weeks ago, she is 8 mos old. She had roundworms, lungworms, and tapeworms. Gave me a dewormer and her stool sample showed no more worms. However, she still has the swollen belly. The vet did a tummy tap but found no fluid in her belly. She is eating, drinking, pooping and peeping. She was very lethergaic and slept all the time. The vet gave her a shot of antibiotic and pain meds (she had a ulceration on one of her paws). Now she is more alert and playful, but still has a hard and swollen belly. I have two another 9 week old kittens that I am worried about catching anything from her. They don't sleep, eat or share a litterbox with her. I have another visit with the vet tomorrow but I am getting myself sick over this one thing. Please email me at

  6. Stephanie;

    Thank you so much for writing this article--you've made me believe the possibility that we might not have to put our kitten, Scout down.

    We adopted Scout at 9 weeks old from a Petsmart in June and she has been the absolute perfect kitten (very calm, never scratches and somehow doesn't bother my allergies--which are usually severe). Anyway, we started to notice she was gaining weight and getting a pot belly. A week and a half ago I got nervous because her belly kept getting bigger and she was suddenly acting very lethargic. We were on vacation at the Jersey Shore so we took her to a Banfield Animal Hospital (b/c it was located in the Petsmart where we got her). The nurse took her temperature and noticed she had a fever and immediately said she had worms (I couldn't understand that because I thought the shelter dewormed her before they adopted her out, I found out when I got home from vacation and looked at her paperwork that they didn't--needless to say I felt terrible about not taking her to the vet sooner). Anyway, the Dr. came in and immediately started talking about FIP before even testing her for worms. He took her in to "tap" her for fluid and he couldn't find any, but still wanted to test for FIP because he felt that the fluid "could still be there, even though he couldn't find it" . Anyway, my husband and I had already read about FIP and the fact that it was untreatable and we asked the Dr. questions and he admit that the test could have false negatives AND positives so we told him we didn't see a point to testing, so he dewormed her even though he couldn't find any worms in her stool and told us to come back in two weeks to see how she was and have another deworming if necessary. He also gave her some antibiotics for her infection.

    We took her home and by that night her belly had already gotten softer. The next night we found a 4 inch roundworm, which was great news. Unfortunately, her belly hasn't gotten any better and it seems to be hard. Now she is 4 months old and apparently has always had these worms, so it's obviously a really bad case, so I'm not sure if her belly WOULD go down until she's had her three treatments. I was just wondering what type of blood parasite your kitten had so that when we bring her back for her second deworming on Saturday I have something else to mention since the vet didn't seem to have any ideas other than FIP. Also, I see you live in the NYC area. I'm in North Jersey (right outside the city), so if you have any suggestions for vets in the area that would be great too (I really wasn't happy with Banfield Animal Hospital at all). Thank you so much for your help. If you have any information please email me at

  7. My Siberian kitty too has been diagnosed with FIP. The first visit with the vet, the vet said he had a big belly and said FIP straight away, even though it was 9am and the kitten had just stuffed his face. Then on the second visit the kitten had not eaten that morning as it was another 9am appointment and the vet said it didnt look like FIP as he had put on 100grams and the belly wasnt big. Then the third visit the kitten had put on another 200g but it was a 10am appointment and once again he said FIP. He took a blood sample and a sample of the peritoneal fluid and i'm getting the results in two weeks. But could you please tell me what blood parasite yours turned out to have? I am desperate to make sure he isnt diagnosed with FIP. He is a really happy healthy cat, and when i wash him, he hardly has a belly on him at all!!! :D He looks like a little rat, but he's so cute he doesnt complain. Please get back to me asap.

  8. My kitten is about four months old. She was throwing up right after eating a few days for a little less than a week, I thought I saw some worms in the vomit so I took her into the vet. They dewormed her and did a fecal float (from feces before she had been dewormed) and it came back negative for parasites. She throws up again two days later and I take her back into the vet and she is put on a soft food GI health track diet, thinking that maybe she was just not chewing and eating way too fast. It was also noted that her stomach was slightly distended during this visit. She is vomit free throughout the weekend but I notice on Sunday night that she is acting funny with her litter box, in and out repeatedly peeing in small amounts and I immediately start to worry about a blockage so Monday morning back to the vet we go. The vet sees that her stomach is still a little distended and brings up FIP and naturally I freak out. We do a urine sample which comes back with a high protein count but no infection and blood work that is completely perfect. She is still playful, eating, and her overall behavior has not changed. I love her so much and am crossing my fingers that it is not FIP, does any of this sound familiar to anyone as something other than FIP??? Any advice/commentary would be very much appreciated.

  9. whoops forgot my email it's

  10. Hi.
    First of all, sorry about my bad English, im from Denmark.

    My only 6 months old kitty was diagnosed FIP for 3 ago. He have had diarre in 2 almost 2 months and have gotten medication. His stomach i pretty round like ur kitten is.
    The doctor took an ultrasound scanning and came back and told me my cat had water outside the tarm system and the disease was called FIP.
    Every were on the internet when i search for FIP they tell me that the cat wont eat, drink, and only sleep. But my cat i running around, playing, drinking and eating, and trust me, he loves food.
    Can a vet see if a cat has FIP with an ultrasound scanning?

    Please email me back, my email is:

  11. I'm caught up.
    And Rikke, I just emailed you.

  12. my male cat have a fip too and he is too ill now :(

  13. is there any cure for FIP?? cause my male cat is too ill and it's broke my heart whenever i think of it..

  14. my cat has been sick on and off since i got her in aug- she is now ten months old. at first she had a limp in her leg and so did her sibling that i have as well. wasnt sure if it was injury or infection- antibiotics and pain meds helped. months later i thought she had a blockage but was what vet thought a food allergy- she was vomitting nonstop but then on antibiotics and eliminating beef helped. a week ago she started becoming lethargic and had gingivitis-- took her back 2 days later to vet bc she started vomitting continuously... vet gave her fluids and now is on two antibiotics- she isnt vommiting but is tired at times- still very playful and eating a ton... going to the bathroom but diahrea from antibiotics.. my concern is her belly- i am confused because i keep reading about the pot belly aspect and since my cat has always had a solid stomach it is hard to tell if her stomach is filling up with fluid or i am just paranoid. her blood test came back positive for coronavirus but vet said its not an indicator for FIP since most shelter cats will have that show up in their blood. I am so confused and will die if I lose her as she is my life. I dont know what to do or to expect or how to tell if this is a bad infection or actually FIP. Do cats come around with FIP before getting worse? She seems to be getting better day to day but has always not been a fan of being held- and I am unsure if she is being sensitive to touch or its just how she always was. email me at thank you so much

  15. How did they diagnose the blood parasite? I have a 7n week old foster who is EXACTLY like you described, distended belly, high fever, not fluid but puffy organs, Drs are mentioning FIP. . . she is on antibiotics and sq fluids her temp is around 104.4 What was the parasite and what worked to get rid of it??

  16. All, sorry I've been busy with school if I did not respond to someone I am very sorry. I am out for summer.
    Hi Shanni,
    Wow, 3 questions almost exactly the same in past 2 days.
    We did thorough blood work and numerous other tests. Nothing conclusive. My vet called a specialist to talk thru symptoms and blood work. This person said that the joint pain, fevers etc sounded like lyme disease. They were neg for lyme, but we were out of options so treated it as it were lyme with a long couse of doxy. It worked. It was concluded it was some other blood parasite that acted similar to lyme.

    I also did intensive nursing care with syringe feeding AD with vit C, dextrose, KMR, nutrical etc mixed in for energy/cals as well as daily sub-qs to detox.

    Side note - they were quite ill when I got them and had GI parasites in a bad way too. So they were hit with everything at one time or another: strongid, drontal, panacur, amoxy, clavomox, albon multiple rounds for coccidia, flagyl, etc.

    I'm sorry you are dealing with this. I do with you the best of luck. Please let us know how it goes.

    Crossed paws and best of luck to you and the little one.

  17. Hi Stephanie,
    I have a foster kitty that sounds just like yours. She has no other symptoms of FIP except for the round belly and she has been on numerous courses of antibiotics for a chronic URI. All her brothers and sisters did not make it in the litter (was a cluster f**k from the beginning at the vets office, they were not given proper care until I got them. What is the blood parasite that your kitty had?

  18. Hi stephanie.. First of all sorry for my lousy english.. I hv a kitten of about 2 months old.. He has a very round belly that makes me worry.. I hve been treated him with deworm meds twice.. Even d vet that i consult with also told me to gv him deworm meds.. However, the belly still round.. He ate a lot And plays a lot too.. So i thought he might be healthy.. Nevertheless the rounded belly still makes me worry.. Can u share with me your kitten story.. This is my email Btw, im fiza from malaysia..

  19. Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story!
    I also have a kitten, age 9 weeks and named Piper, recently diagnosed with effusive FIP and by 2 vets. However, I am experiencing the same story as you. She has been through deworming twice and there have been multiple fecal tests that return negative. This past Tuesday, she ran a fever of 105 and was lethargic BUT only stirred when it was feeding time. I took her to the vet and they dropped this horrible news on me and told me that she had about 2 weeks to live. She gave Piper a steroid shot and Clavamox. I went to another vet for a second diagnosis, and she did an abdominioscentisis. She said that it was very difficult to draw fluid out of the belly and the first draw was straw but the second was clear. She also mentioned that Piper had high serum protein level. So she said she was 90% sure that it was FIP. She said that on average, these cats live around 8 days. I had accepted the news and Piper's eminent death, and was expecting to see a rapid decline. However, that night, Piper perked up and since then, she has been acting like a kitten; extremely playful. She also has a very enthusiastic appetite. Her round belly has not swelled any more. It seems to remain the same.

    What is this blood parasite?

  20. Hi Stephanie,

    I appreciate you tackling the devastatingly under-understood illness that is FIP. I also appreciate reading the stories because it give me hope that my 8 month old kitten, Otto, could have something else going on other than FIP. We took Otto to the vet because he had been lethargic and constipated. The vet determined he needed to go to intensive care right away. At intensive care they discovered fluid in his belly. At first, they thought his bladder ruptured. After testing the fluid, that wasn't the case. Then it seems as if they just automatically jumped to the FIP diagnosis. Otto is eating and drinking and using the litter box. He is still sleeping a lot but he has bursts of energy at times and is very talkative. He doesn't seem to be in pain but with cats I understand sometimes it's hard to tell. Any insight on what other illnesses to test for would be greatly appreciated.

  21. I am in the same situation. My 5 month old has had this since birth with the EXACT same symptoms. Distended belly and that's it. Everything else is so normal?! No idea what to do. Aread there FIP specialists that can give me a four sure yes or no and help me figure out what's wrong with my baby?

  22. I think my cat caught FIP :( It is too hard to see her suffer everyday while all we can do is comfort her. I just started college and we can't afford a vet. It's just too depressing :'(

  23. I'm sorry to hear everyone's stories of dealing with possible FIP. First off can I just say, there is NO SUCH THING AS A FIP TEST - any vet that tells you there is does not know what they're talking about and if it was me, I'd be finding a vet who did. There is a way to test whether a cat or kitten has been exposed to the Coronavirus - which is extremely common (many cats have had past exposure) - it is the mutated form of this virus that causes FIP. However, mutation (ie development of FIP) only occurs in around 5% of cases. It's important to understand the difference and to know that a positive test result to the Coronavirus does NOT mean a cat has or will develop FIP.

  24. The best, most informative FIP website is here:

  25. My kitten who is 4 months old is going to be tested for FIP. I Would love the name of the blood parasite so I can have them look into that as well. And is there other advice you could give me to make sure she gets as well of a proper diagnosis as she can.

  26. Hi Stephanie, thank you so much for posting your kittens experience. My 16 week old Sophie has the exact same story as yours. If she didn't have a bloated stomach, you wouldn't know the vet said she has FIB and said I should think about putting her down; that was not an option for me! I feel like something is being over looked and not dealt with. Can you please email me the name of the blood parasite. The vet gave her prednisone but hesitant to give it to her. Any help, I would be beyond grateful! Things have to change other than first sight and make a death sentence diagnosis.

    LeAnn Brenner

    I did register with Irene and waiting but in desperate need of answers now...

  27. We have a rescue from Colorado Springs petsmart. One of her siblings died a few weeks after they were in the fosters home. I read her file after we adopted her and thought oh boy. A few days after having her home she started sneezing and her left eye was tearing up. The vet suggested lysine and a probiotic. I did note to her the size of her belly. I never seen a kitten with a belly so big. She said let’s see how she does on this and then she might need another deworming. So she got over her cold and we went back to the vet yesterday. She gave her a shot and a yellow liquid and another to do at home. She said also it didn’t feel like fip. Reading your post I cried. I don’t know what to think either. I’m glad your fosters got healthy and adopted. Hope our new baby gets better. Thank you for your post.

  28. Have a four month old rescue from a large litter and foster home. The swelling in his tummy started around two weeks after we rescued him and came with a temperament change (more reserved, less energetic), but he still eats like a Hobbit, uses the litter box and is social. No jaundice, no upper respiratory issues, etc. FIP was the vet's top concern, given his history, and we're waiting on the results of a test from his body fluid sample, but this post makes me hopeful that his ailment is something treatable and he'll be with us for many years to come.

  29. Hi there,
    My beautiful 2 yr. old male cat, Whisper was diagnosed with FIP back in May. One day he vomited - a lot. The vet kept him in overnight. They did a lot of tests. He was positive for coronavirus, high protein, but no fever. Prior to this I was concerned he was a little skinny, but he wasn't deemed to be underweight. Recently he seemed even skinnier and less active, so I had an ultrasound done, and the radiologist said he was 99% sure it was FIP. There was no swollen belly, but today, it is starting to look a little swollen. Not sure what to do. The vet has given up on him. I don't want to.

    Thanks for any help,

  30. Hi! Can I know the name of the blood parasite? It's very urgent. My kitten was diagnosed with a low infestation of blood parasite (test did not state what parasite) at the start of January and we started treatment right away. However after his condition did not improve we consulted another vet who says it might be FIP. My email address is