Dedicated research efforts have led to antiviral treatments that cure over 80% of cats diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). This is an amazing accomplishment since FIP is a complex and challenging disease. Cat lovers might ask “why is there a need for more research?” The answer is also complex and challenging. Diseases evolve and medicine must progress further for the ultimate benefit of every cat. Even now, there is still critical research needed regarding FIP.
• Many countries do not have available legally approved (e.g., FDA) versions of antiviral treatments for FIP. This has created a black-market treatment process creating complications often in establishing an effective doctor-client-cat patient relationship. The goal worldwide should be legally approved, safe, efficacious, and affordable treatments.
• A percentage of cats have natural resistance to the GS drug available or their form of FIP (e.g., ocular or neurological) is non-responsive to antiviral treatment. Having other potential safe and efficacious antiviral drugs as alternatives is critical in these cases.
• Researchers believe resistance to the drug will develop over time in more cats and efficacy will decrease due to increased usage of antiviral drugs.
• Human viral infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are often treated with a three drug regimen. Where one or two of the drugs used might not be effective, a third drug could be therapeutic.
• Some viruses mutate frequently, especially RNA viruses like feline coronavirus (FCoV). Mutations can lead to worsening disease and increased resistance to drug treatments. Knowledge about how to prevent FCoV spread and decrease mutation development is important.
• Finding answers to key questions about FIP is essential. It has not yet been determined which specific mutation(s) change the tropism of a mild virus (feline enteric corona virus [FECV] form of FCoV) from intestinal cells to a lethal virus that replicates in monocytes and macrophages, triggering an immune-mediated vasculitis response. In addition, the cellular receptor for the most common FCoV involved in infection, Serotype1, is unknown.
• There is a need for development of rapid, inexpensive, noninvasive, and accurate tests to diagnose cases of FIP. Tests which effectively monitor response to treatments (e.g., determining which cats respond and can discontinue treatment from cats that are not responding and need longer treatment) must be determined.
• Another goal of some investigators is production of an effective vaccine that prevents infection with the mild, enteric form of FCoV and the potential development of FIP.
~ Vicki Thayer, DVM DABVP (Feline), EveryCat Health Foundation Director Emeritus
Dr. Vicki Thayer has a 40+ year background in feline medicine and is board certified in feline medicine by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) She served on the board of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) for 20 years, and as president from 1996-1998. Dr. Thayer currently serves as Co-Chair of AAFP/EveryCat FIP Guidelines Task Force which recently published the AAFP/EveryCat FIP Diagnosis Guidelines.
Dr. Thayer joined the Board of Directors of EveryCat Health Foundation in 2008, serving as board president from June 2011 to June 2014, and Executive Director from July 2014 to December 2018.