Early in 2021, we became a Feline Coronavirus-free cattery. Up until now, clearing a cattery of the Feline Coronavirus was a near-impossible task. Thankfully, things have changed. A sucessful treatment was discovered. This is a momentous moment for all cats around the world. The discovery wasn't made by one of the professors who had been studying this virus for decades, but was researched and discovered by my close friend and breeding partner, Sheryl Curran of Baker Street Ragdolls.
Sheryl spent countless hours putting her sciences degree to good use, and studied everything she could about Feline Coronavirus. Once she found the treatment that worked, she worked with Dr Diane Addie. Dr Addie is one of the worlds leading specialists in Feline Infectious Peritonitis and Feline Coronavirus. I then worked with both Sheryl and Dr Addie to clear our cats of this disease. I don't think Sheryl will ever understand quite how proud I am of her and her achievements, and the fact that I can call her my friend. To directly quote Dr Addie, Sheryl deserves a Nobel prize in recognition of the lives her discovery will save.
To visit Sheryls website, where she goes into more detail about Feline Coronavirus, FIP, and treatments to clear your cats of the virus, please cllick here: Baker Street Ragdolls
I have many people to thank for our journey, in particular the four people named below. Their help has meant the world to us, and will make a real difference for cats around the world:
Sheryl Curran - Baker Street Ragdolls - without your discovery, eliminating this disease would be nothing more than a distant dream!
Neil Dear - Laboratory Director at Donnington Grove Vets - your advice and guidance has been beyond value. Thanks to you, we now have an improved scheduled for post-treatment testing, and have more knowledge of how this virus works. Your input and enthusiasm for assisting us with our aim has been so encoraging and heartwarming.
Hannah Mirfin - MRCVS - Donnington Grove Vets - Your support and enthusiasm, and eagerness to see us become a FCoV-free cattery has been wonderfully refreshing. Thank you so much for running with this for us!
Dr Diane Addie - Your help with getting the initial clinical study completed, and with helping Sheryl publish the clinical papers has been invaluable. Your positive attitude and encouraging words have really helped encourage us to continue with our pursuit!
If you have stumbled across this page because you have a cat with Feline Infectious Peritonitis please can I suggest you join the Facebook group 'FIP Warriors'. There are treatments available! FIP Warriors will be able to advise you what the best treatment would be for you and your cat. Please do not listen to the Facebook masses, as some of the advise I have seen on general Facebook posts has been incorrect or misleading.
What is Feline Coronavirus? Should I be concerned?
Feline Coronavirus (FCoV, also noted as Feline Enteric Coronavirus/FECV in many studies) is not the same as Covid-19. It is the same family of viruses that cause a huge range of illnesses from the common cold to SARS in humans. The animal kingdom also has a number of coronaviruses that affect all species - from Avian 'Flu to Kennel Cough in dogs.
Should I worry about Feline Coronavirus?
Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) on its own is not a huge concern. FCoV is a common viral infection in cats. It generally has very few symptoms, but can cause mild stomach upsets and loose stools. Most (but not all) cats will naturally eliminate FCoV over time, however in certain environments the virus will never be completely eliminated. High risk environments where many cats live together (for example, rescue shelters, high density feral colonies, breeding catteries etc) mean that as a cat manages to naturally eliminate the virus, it will contract it again from another infected cat. As a result, the virus is present in the vast majority of breeders homes.
On its own, FCoV is not a concern. Aside from some mild diarrhoea and lethargy, the virus is virtually symptomless.
So, you say that FCoV is harmless, so why have you eliminated it from your cattery?
FCoV, like many (if not all) viruses is prone to mutating. We have seen this with COVID-19, where we now have many different variants. In cats, FCoV can mutate, and can lead to an illness called Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). FIP is said to occur in around 10% of kittens. In the past, it has been stated that FIP has a near 100% mortality rate. It is extremely difficult for a clinician to diagnose, and can only accurately be diagnosed from a post mortem examination. Recently, treatments have been found that can cure FIP, which is a huge relief for many pet owners! The treatment is expensive, and cures around 80% of cats treated. It really is a lifesaver! The treatment is usually 84 days of either tablets or injections, so it is far from being a quick and easy solution. It also runs well into thousands of pounds just to treat one cat, with additional veterinary costs (such as blood tests) on top.
FIP is treatable, so I still don't understand why you've chosen to eliminate it from your cattery.
Why wouldn't we?! We have chosen to ensure that all our kittens have the best possible start in life. We firmly believe that we should not be letting any kitten go to a new home if it is carrying any form of illness or disease, and to that end, we are doing everything we can to ensure this is the case. Any cat or kitten that develops FIP gets extremely ill. Seeing a cat or kitten with FIP is devastating. Fortunately, we have never had a confirmed case of FIP in any kitten we have bred, but we aren't going to use that as an excuse for inaction. By ensuring our cats, and therefore our kittens, are free of FCoV, we are ensuring we have done everything we humanly can to give these cats and kittens the best chance of a healthy, happy, long life.
How is FCoV spread?
FCoV is shed in the faeces of infected cats, and is spread via a faecal-oral route of infection. Litter trays are the main source of infection. If one cat has FCoV it can be passed from the infected cat to an uninfected cat. For this reason, we respectfully ask that if you already have a cat and wish to adopt a kitten from us, you ask your veterinarian to check the status of your existing pet. If they are positive for the virus, they will pass it on to any uninfected kitten you get in the future. As I am sure you will appreciate, we do not want to put our kittens at risk, and ask that they only go to families that do not have the virus present in their homes.
Does this mean my kitten will never develop FIP?
By eliminating FCoV, you eliminate the virus that mutates to become FIP. You would still need to be mindful of FCoV. If you purchase another kitten in the future, and that has FCoV, then it could infect your uninfected cat. Once the virus has been contracted, it could at any stage mutate and cause FIP. The way to prevent FIP is to prevent FCoV!
If I get a kitten that has FCoV, will it get FIP?
Who knows. It has been stated by experts that around 10% of cats with FCoV develop FIP, which would suggest there is a 10% chance your kitten will. In my experience, it feels like this number is higher than we see in reality, but FIP is something that many breeders won't talk about, and won't admit to. Some breeders are very open and honest, some aren't. It's the same in pretty much all walks of life. There are no guarantees that a kitten with FCoV won't go on to develop FIP, and there is no way of knowing for certain either way. A kitten that is clear of FCoV, and remains clear of FCoV however cannot and will not develop FIP.
I've heard of breeders removing kittens from their mothers at 4 weeks to prevent them catching the virus from their mother, and becoming infected. Is this what you do too?
No! Absolutely not! We do not believe in isolating kittens away from other adult cats in the household. Kittens learn all of the most valuable 'life lessons' from mixing with other adult cats. By isolating them in the hopes to protect them from FCoV, a breeder can be setting their kitten up for bigger issues in the future. What better way for a kitten to learn to be a well-rounded, happy, content family member than to raise them as a family member!
We do not have FCoV in our home. As the virus isn't present, there is no way of the kittens catching this virus. As a result, our kittens are free to live in our home the same as our adults. Running around, climbing the curtains (luckily the adults don't do that), and causing absolute mayhem - and we wouldn't have it any other way!
For more information on Feline Coronavirus and Feline Infectious Peritonitis,
please visit Dr Diane Addies website by clicking here