Supportive Care For An FIP Cat

No matter if you’re treating palliatively or curing FIP with GS, it is imperative to provide supportive home care for your cat. 

Information below is not intended to substitute or replace proper veterinary care. Please discuss home care with your veterinarian and seek emergency care, if and when needed.   

Anemia

Anemia in FIP cats is very common, so much so that it is one of the classic markers a vet looks for on the CBC. Anemic cats may present with pale pink, white or grayish gums. Severely anemic cats may eat litter, or lick strange objects (pica). Anemia by itself can be life threatening, so this is not a symptom to ignore.   

A mildly anemic cat will benefit from B12 injections, which can be given weekly or daily if needed.  Any B12 that the cat cannot use will be discarded in his/her urine.  Injectable B12 has the best absorption rate, but oral supplements such as Pet-Tinic or similar are fine to use on the days between injections. 

A severely anemic cat (HCT value < 15%) may require a transfusion.  An HCT value of <10% is an emergency situation and will definitely require a transfusion. 

Dehydration

FIP often attacks kidneys, which can often be seen with increased urination and drinking. Fluids may be required and water should never be withheld.

A good way to test if your cat is dehydrated is by lightly pinching its scruff. If the skin is elastic and snaps right back into place, the cat is properly hydrated.  If the skin is slow to respond, he/she is dehydrated.  

For mild dehydration, it may be adequate to syringe some water, KMR or pedialyte into the cat’s mouth. Their water intake should be 60ml per day, given intermittently throughout the day. 

For severe dehydration, sub-cutaneous fluids or IV fluids may be needed. It may be necessary to repeat fluid therapy in which case, your vet may teach you how to administer sub-cu fluids at home, else return to the vet as often as directed. 

Diarrhea

Many FIP cats will have bouts of diarrhea. Some home remedies include pumpkin puree and/or a probiotic, either of which are excellent for the cat and can be given regularly and in the absence of diarrhea too. 

Pumpkin puree must be pure pumpkin. not pie filling! The soluble fiber in pumpkin will regulate the water content in the intestines and will help cure both diarrhea or constipation. Many cats like the taste and will willingly eat it at roughly a 3:1 food/pumpkin ratio.

FortiFlora probiotic supplement has been proven to promote intestinal health and balance as well as a healthy immune system. It contains antioxidant vitamins E, C and beta-carotene which have been shown to support a strong immune system. Since gut health is the center for so many illnesses, Fortiflora is an excellent addition to all cats’ diets.  It’s highly palatable and can be sprinkled on their food according to dosing indicated on the product. 

*Also see “dehydration” above, as this often goes hand in hand with diarrhea. 

Difficulty Breathing

Do not attempt any home remedy. This is an emergency situation that requires a vet or veterinary ER. 

*If the labored breathing is due to fluid around the heart or lungs, as much as possible should be drained.

*If ascites (fluid in abdomen) is causing labored breathing, drain only as much fluid as required to make the cat comfortable. DO NOT DRAIN ALL OF THE ABDOMINAL FLUID.  

Fever

A normal temperature for a cat is 99.5F- 102.5F.  It is very common for a cat’s temperature to fluctuate throughout the day. Minor changes are not cause for alarm; however, a persistent fever or severe fever may require veterinary or emergency care. 

Fevers are very common with FIP cats and should be monitored closely.  When febrile, a cat will not eat and will typically act quiet and/or lethargic. 

To help reduce a fever at home, any of the following will help make the cat more comfortable:

  • If the cat will lie still and tolerate this, create a cooling pad with ice packs wrapped in a towel and rest it against the cat’s body.
  • From a safe distance, point a fan at the cat and get some cool air blowing on him/her. 
  • Dab some isopropyl rubbing alcohol or iced water on the pads of the cat’s feet. As it evaporates, it will reduce the cat’s body temperature. 

If a fever persists for > 24 hours, seek veterinary care.  For fevers over 105, seek urgent care. 

Inappetence

Often one of the early symptoms, FIP cats typically do not want to eat on their own.  It is crucial that he/she gets a minimum of 200 calories per day, else fatty liver disease is a real threat and can be fatal. 

Hills A/D high calorie food is highly recommended, if possible.  During this period of inappetence, worry less about the quality of the food and more so that your cat is eating.  Some options that have worked for many FIP-parents are Delectable Lickables, Churo Cat Treats, jarred baby food (meat only, no spices, NO onions), canned salmon, tuna, boiled chicken, chicken hearts and/or livers, and Nutri-Cal or similar high calorie paste.

*These foods are not a balanced diet for cats and not intended to be used long term. As your cat starts to feel better, please transition back to a species-appropriate diet.*   

Syringe feed if needed, or try some of the tips and tricks on Feeding An FIP Cat page.

Injection Site Lesions

If you are treating with GS, it is possible that you may find some small lesions or scabs at the injection sites. In most cases, these will heal on their own with basic home care.  

Clip the fur in the area of the sore, keep the area clean, and observe to ensure it does not get infected. If it does appear to be infected, consult with your vet to determine if a prescription topical or antibiotic is needed. 

Nausea

Also very common among FIP cats, nausea is often an underlying cause of  inappetence. Symptoms of nausea may include drooling, exaggerated chewing, grinding/clicking noise when chewing, or showing interest in food but not actually eating. 

Cerenia is commonly prescribed by vets to help resolve nausea in FIP cats. It comes in both injectable and oral form. 

Slippery Elm Bark is an all natural anti-nausea remedy that can be found in health stores, vitamin shops, pharmacies, and some grocery stores. It does require some preparation at home before giving it to your cat.  

Prednisolone/Steroids

Prednisolone is frequently prescribed at the time of diagnosis, as it is as anti-inflammatory and can help to keep the cat comfortable and even stimulate appetite. 

Once the cat is taking GS, prednisolone is no longer necessary unless it is being used to treat a secondary or underlying condition. 

If your cat has been taking pred for less than 1 week, you can stop cold turkey. If your cat has been taking pred for greater than 1 week, you’ll want to taper him/her off.  Most cats are prescribed (x)mg twice a day.  When you are starting to taper off,  reduce the dose to once a day for 1 week, then once every other day for another week before stopping altogether at the end of the 2nd week.

Dedicated to all FIP angels.

All information contained on this website is compiled from real-life experiences of cat owners who are currently, or have previously treated their cats for FIP.  Most of us are not veterinarians and the  information provided within is not intended to substitute or replace medical care by a licensed veterinarian.