Possible feline FIP in vomiting kitten?

by Austin

I am writing because I am devastated about a possible case of feline FIP in my 16 week old kitten, Tuna.

a possible feline FIP case. Unfortunately, there is no definitive test for FIP in cats, but there are many tests that collectively can provide fairly strong evidence to support a diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis. This testing would include:

Blood Chemistry Screen (looking for elevated globulin, in particular)
A Corona Virus/FIP titer
PCR test for FIP
Protein Electrophoresis
Fluid Analysis (if there is any fluid to be collected from the cat’s abdomen)
Rivalta Test (a fluid test you can read about here)

If you or your veterinarian really wanted to pursue a diagnosis of FIP, these are the tests that would need to be run to present the most thorough evidence to support an FIP diagnosis. And, while this certainly isn't always the case, feline FIP is more common in young kittens that are purebred and/or live in catteries, so this would be further evidence in support of a diagnosis of FIP in cats.

However, your kitty sounds as though she is pretty healthy to me at the moment. That, combined with your cat not having a fever and the fact that she seems better after the initial deworming treatment would make me think that her episodes of vomiting and bloating are, quite possibly, due to feline parasites. These intestinal parasites may have been controlled, or at least partially controlled, by the deworming treatment your kitten received.

It is important to note that there are many false negatives with fecal testing in cats. Your veterinarian absolutely did the right thing by proceeding with a deworming treatment despite the negative result. However, you should also be aware that, if your veterinarian only gave your cat one general broad-spectrum dewormer, there is a good chance that it did not treat all of the possible feline intestinal parasites. Most general dewormers for cats do not treat tapeworms in cats, which are the most common parasites that cause scooting behavior. Broad-spectrum general dewormers, while they get the most common parasites, also usually do not treat for coccidia or giardia, both of which are common in kittens.

Another thing to note is that one general deworming treatment is not enough for any kitten. A kitten with suspected parasites needs a second round of deworming in 10-14 days, and even if parasites are no longer on the top of your veterinarian’s differential list, proceeding with treatment for intestinal parasites won’t do any harm and could do lots of good for your kitten. A wise veterinarian once said, “Every vomiting cat deserves a good, thorough deworming.”

Bloating in little kittens is also common from them eating well and having a good meal, and can be more pronounced in some kittens than in others. Some young kittens begin to look like their stomachs are larger than the rest of their body combined!

Of course, I can’t tell you exactly what is going on with your kitten without examining her fully and knowing the results of all of the above recommended tests to support a diagnosis of FIP. My gut says that your kitten doesn’t have feline infectious peritonitis, but I would recommend having a lengthy discussion about all of the above with your veterinarian and perhaps pursue further testing and treatments.

All the best to you,
Dr. Neely

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