Rescue Journal


Carol  ·  Oct. 7, 2007

i don't know how much most of you know about cat diseases, but cats more so than dogs, have some pretty funky ones and most of them are viral in nature. it is the "f" ones that are so horrible, the "f" stands for feline but i think it should stand for that other four letter word with an 'ed on the end.

there is FIV, FeLV, FIP, and FIA (which i have never seen)...and a couple of others. none of these diseases cross species into humans.

The FIV just is not a big deal any more...research has shown that these cats transmit the disease thru body fluid to blood deep bite wounds or violent reproductive sex or cross placenta in utero. spayed, neutered and non aggressive cats keep this disease to themselves and they can live an entire lifetime with a bit of extra care and concern. in the end, they are more likely to develop certain cancers or secondary bacterial infections that eventually do them in.

FeLV is is more contagious, it can be spread the same way as FIV, plus thru direct contact in litter boxes or food and water bowls. but it is NOT airborne nor is it a formite that hangs out on surfaces like people's clothing. therefore, once the cat is segregated from healthy cats, the risk of transmission is nil. FeLV is more deadly...most cats die within 5 years. the 2 determining factors seem to be age of onset (kittens infected in utero rarely live past two) and how good you are at keeping other virus's and bacteria away from them because their immune systems are toast. the interesting things about FeLV are...A..70% of cats are naturally immune B...10% of cats who are not immune will get the disease and they will actually fight it off again. C...10% will have the disease and never show symptoms and D...10% will show the signs of active disease. and some will actually test negative if the disease moves into the bone marrow and out of the blood stream (i don't think these cats are contagious anymore because they sometimes test negative when they really are positive and they will eventually die from the disease too)

and then there is FIP, every rescuers and vets worst nightmare. it is a nightmare because it is such a very odd and impossible to truly diagnose disease. FIP is caused by the corona virus and 90% of cats have been exposed to the corona virus and will test positive to the exposure and yet will be healthy cats. FIP is an odd disease in that it is not the corona virus that kills them (corona virus gives most cats diarrhea for awhile) is an individual cats immunal response to the corona virus that determines if they develop FIP. There are 2 forms of FIP...wet and dry...i have never seen dry FIP. wet FIP attacks various organ systems in the body and you never know which one that will be. sometimes it is the respiratory, or the brain or the abdominal area...every cat is different in the location of their over-active immune response but basically their own bodies attack themselves somewhere in response to this virus.

you can't test for it because almost all cats will test positive since virutally eveyone has been you look at the types and groupings of symptoms and with a postive titre, you make a very educated guess. ANYONE who destroys an otherwise healthy cat because it tests positive to corona virus with a high titre is probaly panicking and killing a healthy cat. the only real danger to corona is an infected cat passing a relatively harmless virus to a virtually very few others whose immune systems are going to go insane. and how could you possibly predict that...that is the issue, you can't.

sooo..back to the title of this post. i have a very bad feeling in my gut. i am afraid that those little kittens that i bought off the side of the road from that crappy breeder brought active corona virus into our home. the vet told me she had lot's of virus's in that cattery which is why she is unloading the cats to shut the cattery down. they did come in with URI...i tested them both for FIV and FeLV and they were negative for those.

so why am i afraid that active corona virus came with them...because eddie is quite ill and not getting better. he has been on various antibiotics for weeks now with what we thought was a URI cold that he caught from the kittens ( unlike the deadly "f" diseases, URI is airborn, just like human colds.) but eddie's cold didn't go away and i finally just stopped the ABX's because he is traumatized and hiding from me now and they weren't working anyway. i was thinking that maybe he has just become a chronic URI'er now and we would just have to deal with that.... so last night eddie, whose chest sounds full this morning...just vomitted up litres of very bright green watery fluid...whether from his gut or his chest, i am not sure. and the first thing that hit my head was HOLY SHIT, please god, not wet FIP. i will take him in tomorrow for corona viral titre levels and we will wait and see. but if he is sick because i bought those babes from the side of the road, i will be just sick with guilt inside me too.

it is one thing to make a choice and take the risks involved when actively practicing rescue, it is a crap shoot with homeless cats, they can bring all kinds of funky things with them. it is another thing altogether to be weak and soft and do something wrong because you just feel like you have to do something, even if it is the wrong thing to do.

fingers crossed that whatever eddie has, i am over reacting and it is not FIP.



i should add tho that the number one critical reason to segregate for 2 weeks is distemper. we had a distemper cat come into the shelter i worked at that starting showing symptoms a few days one else in the shelter (over 80 cats) caught it because we were very careful not to cross contaminate and kept him isolated when he was admitted. that was a pretty amazing accomplishment considering how distemper can flair right thru an entire shelter facility.


would not matter, they shed the corona virus for months to years. we do segregate for the first couple of weeks though for URI and possible ringworm but because URI is airborn and ringworm can hide for months it does little good.

Chris T

Carol you could not know what they could possibly be bringing in. You did what you had to confronted with the situation. I suspect you would do the same thing again or rescue another cat in the same situation. The only way to mitigate for this might be to quarantine new cats for a length of time before they are integrated.


Shit! ( can I say that on the blog? - too late now anyway) I'll keep my fingers crossed too.