Coronavirus in cats: symptoms and transmission

Coronavirus in cats can cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Infection can only manifest itself through temporary diarrhea or show no symptoms at all. You can find out more about the Feline Coronavirus and its transmission here. Coronavirus in cats often triggers only mild symptoms and rarely leads to FIP - Shutterstock / JJ_SNIPER

If you look at the coronavirus under a microscope, it looks as if it is wearing a crown. In Latin, Krone means "Corona" - this is how the virus got its name. Forms of the pathogen can also affect other animals such as dogs or pigs. The Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) usually only infects cats. Sometimes an infection runs without symptoms, but affected animals still excrete the pathogen and can infect others.

FECV and FIP: Diseases of the coronavirus in cats

If the disease breaks out, there is a mild and a severe form. The mild form is called "Feline enteral coronavirus" (FECV), the heavy form "Feline Infectious Peritonitis" (FIP), in English "contagious peritonitis". These are the same corona viruses, but in the case of FIP, the pathogens mutate into an aggressive form that, unfortunately, usually ends in death. Luckily, this doesn't happen that often: only ten percent of cats infected with the coronavirus get FIP. This means that 90 percent of the infected animals either have no or temporary, mild complaints.

Coronavirus in cats: symptoms of infection

FECV manifests itself through symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite and runny nose. The weaker the affected cat's immune system, the stronger the signs of infection with the coronavirus. Even though this form is comparatively harmless, it can be dangerous for cats with a weakened immune system - so take good care of young kittens, seniors, pregnant animals and chronically ill cats.

The symptoms mentioned are even more severe with FIP, in addition affected cats have an apathetic effect, lose weight and their mucous membranes appear yellowish or pale. The peritoneum becomes inflamed and the abdominal cavity fills with fluid so that it looks bloated.

Cat disease FIP: diagnosis and treatment

A disease with FIP is often difficult to recognize in a cat, especially if it is the ...

How can cats get the Feline Coronavirus?

Cats that carry the Feline Coronavirus excrete the pathogen with the faeces - even if they show no symptoms of a disease. Other cats can become infected through the nose and mouth, for example when the animals sniff infected feces or come into contact with them through a shared litter box. Kittens can also become infected through close contact with their mother if the mother carries the virus. The risk of transmission increases if many cats live together in a confined space and the hygienic conditions are poor.

Preventing infection with the corona virus: How to protect your cat

The risk of infection can be reduced if you set up enough litter boxes for the animals in a multi-cat household. The litter boxes should always be cleared of faeces quickly and cleaned thoroughly regularly. You can also reduce the risk of an FECV or FIP outbreak after an infection by providing your cat with a strong immune system through healthy eating, appropriate husbandry and care. Unfortunately, it can still happen that your pet gets a chronic illness or that everything breaks out, but the likelihood is less. You can find more information on this topic in our guide "Vaccination and prevention of the cat against FIP".