Dr. Neely's Introduction:
FIP in cats is a very sensitive topic. For years, veterinarians, breeders, and cat owners have taken interest in feline infectious peritonitis for its suspected highly contagious nature and its highly fatal outcomes. Feline FIP is a serious, devastating cat illness, and one where the cause-and-effect relationships are still unclear.
The following article was written by Marianne, a guest blogger who personally lost a cat to FIP. You can learn more about Marianne by reading her bio below. The views expressed in the article that follows are Marianne’s opinion, and do not necessarily reflect my views on the topic of breeder accountability regarding FIP in cats. I have chosen to publish this article, though, because this is a topic very dear to me. It is also one that, although controversial, is important for us to have an open discussion about. We welcome your comments using the Facebook comments area at the bottom of this page, but please keep your comments courteous and respectful.
Accountability and Breeders
In the UK, breeders can be prosecuted and risk being sued for selling FCOV infected kittens that develop FIP in cats under the Sale of Goods Act and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. In the United States, most states have pet lemon laws and you can find them here. For instance, in California, the Health & Safety Code Section 122125-12220.4 states a required record of any known disease or sickness that the cat is afflicted with at the time of sale. For more about this, please see this website and search "Lockyer Polanco Farr Pet Protection".
In a recent ruling, a buyer got a judgment against a cat breeder who sold her a sick cat with pre-existing conditions and eventually died of feline infectious peritonitis. She had the typical cat buyers’ contract.
Breeder History and Legal options:
A search on the internet finds more than one complaint against catteries for selling FIP infected cats. In the United States, if you are researching a particular breeder, you can find records of previous litigation with the individual County Clerks in the county in which the breeder resides. You can also search Pacer.org (small charge) and Justia (free). These are all public records.
If you are seeking to recoup financial losses, Small Claims court is relatively consumer friendly and cost effective, but each state has its particular dollar limitations and there are no guarantees of success. There are many good animal rights lawyers around who specialize in this field. It is time, in this writer’s opinion, for breeders to become accountable.
To choose to participate in the current parlance and practices of breeders who breed and sell sick cats and claim ignorance, denial and resistance only perpetuates more of the same. More sick cats and more broken-hearted pet parents.
Understanding FIP in Cats: FCOV can be eliminated
FCOV has been eliminated in the Falklands completely by hard work, commitment and determination using quarantine and testing modalities. (J. Feline Medicine & Surgery 2/2012, Addie) As evidenced, it can be done and there are many published and effective protocols. The argument that all cats have the virus and that it is unavoidable and must be accepted as fact is therefore moot.
There are good breeders who have made the effort to rid themselves of the FCOV virus and Dr. Addie maintains a database of these breeders here. Is it not worth paying for an airplane ride then to end up with a sick kitten? A guide for buying a kitten is here.
The stacked deck for purebred cats
Lineage + FCOV + high titers + repeated exposure to constant shedders + viral load = Disaster.
Lineage + FCOV + high titers + pre-existing condition + crowding + exposure to shedders +viral load = Guaranteed Disaster.
FIP in cats is more common and “over presented” in Abyssinian, Bengal, Persian, Ragdoll, Rex breeds, Burmese, Birman, British Shorthair, and Himalayans. The authors write that it probably has more to do with lineages than the breeds themselves. Epidemiologic data suggests that the genetic background of the cat contributes to the manifestation of feline FIP. Pederson has consistently claimed genetics may contribute to at least 50 percent of cats developing FIP. Litter mates of infected kittens have a higher risk of developing infection, as referenced here.
Breeding catteries are high risk for FIP (ABCD recommendation of FIP, Addie) and outbreaks can be as high as 49 percent. For more on this, please see this article.
Cats having high titers and repeated exposure to constant shedders create a higher incidence of FIP in cats as well. The incident rate of FCOV, a highly contagious virus, is 87 percent in catteries and only 20 percent in the pet cat population. This means that 80 percent of pet cats don’t have the virus. (Dreschler et al, J. Vet Clin, Small Practice 11/11).
It is time for cat breeders to make an effort to eliminate the dreaded virus from their feline communities, take appropriate recommended genetic protocols along with husbandry recommendations and make an effort not to produce and sell compromised at risk and sick kittens.
The “good breeders”, in my view, should be rewarded for their diligence and effort.
If anyone would like any of the referenced articles, please let me know.
J. Feline Medicine & Surgery, Addie e al, Quarantine Protects Falkland Cats from the Corona virus; (2012)
Genetic determinants of pathogenesis by feline infectious peritonitis virus. J. Vet Immuno Path . Oct 2011 republished 6/20/2012. MA brown
ABCD guidelines on recommendations and management of Feline Peritionitis , Addie et la, J. Feline Medicine & Surgery 09
Feline Coronavirus in Multicat Environments, Dreschler et la, J. Veterinary Clinics of N. America, Small Animal (2011).
Marianne has been a research assistant to a human infectious disease physician for several years, as well as a consulting researcher of published literature for various physicians with an emphasis on virology, neurology, and tropical diseases. Marianne personally lost a cat to feline infectious peritonitis and became acutely interested in the disease. She has since been using her previous experience and resources for literary research on this subject.
You may contact Marianne directly at email@example.com