Diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis: Update on evidence supporting available tests

Séverine Tasker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
6210 Downloads (Pure)


Practical relevance: Feline coronavirus (FCoV) infection is very common in cats, usually causing only mild intestinal signs such as diarrhoea. Up to 10% of FCoV infections, however, result in the fatal disease feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Clinical challenges: Obtaining a definitive diagnosis of FIP based on non-invasive approaches is difficult. Confirmation of the disease relies on finding appropriate cytological or histopathological changes in association with positive immunostaining for FCoV antigen. In FIP cases with effusions, cytology and immunostaining on effusion samples can be relatively easy to perform; otherwise obtaining diagnostic samples is more challenging and collection of biopsies from tissues with gross lesions is necessary. In the absence of a definitive diagnosis, a high index of suspicion of FIP may be obtained from the cat’s signalment and history, combined with findings on clinical examination and laboratory test results. If largely consistent with FIP, these can be used as a basis for discussion with the owner about whether additional, more invasive, diagnostic tests are warranted. In some cases it may be that euthanasia is discussed as an alternative to pursuing a definitive diagnosis ante-mortem, especially if financial limitations exist or where there are concerns over a cat’s ability to tolerate invasive diagnostic procedures. Ideally, the diagnosis should be confirmed in such patients from samples taken at post-mortem examination. Global importance: FIP occurs wherever FCoV infection is present in cats, which equates to most parts of the world. Evidence base: This review provides a comprehensive overview of how to approach the diagnosis of FIP, focusing on the tests available to the veterinary practitioner and recently published evidence supporting their use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-243
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
Early online date26 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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