ViviPet | Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): The Fatal Cat Disease

ViviPet | Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): The Fatal Cat Disease

ViviPet | Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): The Fatal Cat Disease

How come?

Feline infectious peritonitis is one of the most serious cat diseases. It’s fatal and there are no treatments or cures for this illness. The virus that’s causing the nasty FIP – corona-virus - is harmless in its normal state and most cats carry it. The problems begin when this virus suffers a mutation. The cause of its mutation is still unknown. The virus transmits through the cats' poop. And cats become infected by swallowing the virus while they’re eating their food or grooming. There is good news, though. FIP doesn’t seem to be contagious to other cats or humans.


FIP has two forms: dry or wet.

  • Dry – swollen lesions form on several parts of the cat's body. Symptoms vary depending on the lesions’ location.
  • Wet – certain cavities like her lungs or tummy fill up with a yellowish fluid. This causes serious abdominal discomfort or heavy breathing.

Symptoms and prevention

The symptoms are generally vague. Decreased appetite, lethargy and sudden weight loss are most likely to happen. Something else to check is her temperature. In case of developing FIP, she may have a stubborn fever that won’t cave in with regular treatment. If you’re thinking about preventing your cat from getting FIP, this is a little complicated. Why? Because the triggering factors are still unclear. And because some cats have a genetic predisposition for developing this virus mutation. All you can do for now is to make sure that your house is a clean and healthy environment for your pet. Also, make regular visits to the vet and have him do a thorough check-up as often as you can.


Actually, there is something else you can do. Something that we have been doing for quite some time now. We have joined forces with a non-profit organization called Zen By Cat. They are struggling to raise awareness (and money) for research and treatments for FIP. Their story is quite interesting. You should check out their website to see what we’re talking about.

Peter, the founder of Zen By Cat, transformed his house into a cat playland. It all started with two cats that were already living in the house when he bought it. One of them died soon and he decided to get another one to keep her company. And, as you know, you can never have too many cats. Soon, his house turned into a cat Disneyland. His story along with the 24 cats in the HouseOfNekko is famous on the Internet. Let’s take a look at these lucky babies.


BokuMo was born on July 5th and adopted on September 16th, 2017 when she was about 9 weeks old. She is Peter's youngest kitten. Her name means “me too” in Japanese. He had given her this name because he had intended to adopt Kabocha. But when he saw BokuMo’s picture on ResQcats' Facebook page, he had to have her. Despite her young age, it turns out that she is completely fearless. On her first day at HouseOfNekko, she cried very loud when he put her in the cage that he uses to introduce new cats. He had no choice but to open the cage and let her run around the house. She immediately bonded with Kabocha. Now they often wrestle with one another like Smokey and MiniBean do.


Born on April 30th and adopted on September 10th 2017 when she was about 5 months old. Her name means Pumpkin in Japanese. She was the oldest kitten that Peter has adopted. ResQcats had been searching for a rescue female orange kitten for Peter for about a year. This search lasted so long because 85% of orange cats are male... He met Kabocha at the Cat Therapy coffee shop in Santa Barbara and noticed that she loved people. But she hissed at any other cat that got too close. As it turns out, she was not afraid of other cats. But she prefers humans. For some reason, BokuMo bonded with her. They accepted each other immediately. And BokuMo has helped her overcome her aversion for the other cats in the HouseOfNekko. She now roams free in the house. And only hisses if the cats try to touch her - except for BokuMo.


Born on June 15th and adopted from ResQcats on August 24th, 2017. At that time, Smokey had started his drug trial treatments a few weeks earlier. As always, Peter was not looking to adopt another cat. Yet, the rescuers found MiniBean alone and fed on a bottle by humans. Because she was not raised with other kittens or cats, she had developed a bad biting problem. This happens to kittens that don't stay with their mother or littermates long enough. There's no one to teach them bite inhibition. If she would have bitten a child, the family would most likely return her or let her loose in the world. This is why the people from ResQcats thought that she was unadoptable. So he agreed to adopt her and he thought that the other cats would teach her manners. And he was right. Within a week, the cats bashed her a few times when she bit too hard. And finally, they taught her how to play. Another surprising bonus was that she bonded with Smokey. This helped him through the painful 12 weeks of injections he was enduring. To this day, Smokey and MiniBean battle every day and often sleep together. They are an inseparable pair.


Born on April 1st, 2016 and adopted on August 1st, the same year. The next day after his adoption, Peter drove him up to UC Davis to start a life-saving drug trial. He was days away from death, with a bloated belly and advanced wet FIP. He responded very well to the trial drug and came home a week later to complete his treatment. Even though the injections were painful, he never ran away. He always allowed the doctor to administer the shots. Peter says that Smokey is one of the most stoic cats he has ever met. He is shy around new humans and cats. But he overcomes his shyness in no time. He gets along with all the other cats in the house. He bonded with MiniBean, but he plays with Vanilla as well. He is aware that he has special privileges and ignores all the rules of the house. For example, he jumps up on kitchen countertops, even though there is a strict rule against that. He also has a ravenous appetite and eats 3 or 4 small cans of wet food every day. Not to mention the countless treats Peter's giving him. Despite being only 18 months old, he has endured so much. The rescuers found him without a mother and in poor health. He was bottle fed and nursed back to health by his amazing foster mom. Then the vet diagnosed him with wet FIP. And due to an amazing stroke of luck and through the Internet he was able to get into the drug trial. So he became one of the 7 almost cured kittens. He has had surgery to remove scar tissue from all the injections. And he has recovered completely. He sleeps in Peter's room at night and wakes him up at 6 a.m. for food. Then he wants Peter to let him into the hero’s room to play with MiniBean. He spends his day roaming free in the house. He often sleeps on the dining room table - also ignoring the rules of the house. But he knows that rules are for the “little felines”.

Vanilla (Bean)

Peter adopted Vanilla on June 14th, 2016 along with her sister, Miss Bean. Soon after the adoption, the vet diagnosed Miss Bean with FIP. Vanilla is one of the most people friendly cats that Peter has ever had. She is fearless and gets along with all the other cats. Also, she loves it if you hold her. She loves sleeping on top of a human too. You can recognize her high pitched voice among the others. And she is not shy to use it whenever she wants something. She likes to play with Smokey as well. Because Vanilla and Miss Bean looked so much alike, Vanilla seems to be living for her sister as well... They have modified her name to Vanilla Bean.

Miss Bean

Peter adopted Miss Bean along with her sister, Vanilla, from ResQcats in mid-June 2016. She was soon diagnosed with wet FIP. But due to HouseOfNekko's fame and thanks to the Internet, she was able to join the UC Davis drug trial that month. She responded well to the drug and they had high hopes for her. But after 4 weeks of treatment, she lost her battle with FIP. She is the one that inspired Peter to create Zen By Cat as a non-profit organization to help raise funds to end FIP. Her almost-twin sister Vanilla Bean continues to thrive. It’s almost like she’s showing them how Miss Bean might have turned out had she lived.


Peter adopted Mango in late October 2015 from ResQcats. He saw her when they were visiting Little Mocha, another kitten they were planning to adopt. The rescuers found Mango alone and she was being fostered at the same home as Mocha. The irony is that they ended up not adopting Mocha. Mango has grown into a mellow (but not shy) cat. She loves to hang out on her favorite cat bed in the downstairs hallway. She sits there and watches the other cats passing by. She gets along with everyone. Her foster mom thought that Mango had some Bengal background. That's because of her markings and her confident personality.

Little Mocha

The rescuers found little Mocha without a mother only a few weeks old. She was bottle fed back to health by her foster mom through ResQcats. She was a sickly kitten. And each time Peter planned to take her home, she turned out to be too sick to join the other cats. By the time she was healthy enough, she had spent almost 3 months with her foster family. So it was clear they had bonded. This is an obvious break of the strict rules for fostering. But they all decided that Little Mocha belonged with her foster family. She became their first HouseOfNekko cat that lived elsewhere.


He adopted Nugget from ResQcats in March 2015. She came along with her three sisters: Smudge, Jupiter Jones, and Blackbird. They also adopted Climber, Mikan and The Professor at the same time. It was the largest group of kittens that they ever adopted at once – the “Group of Seven”. Nugget got her name because she was the smallest kitten of the group. To this day she is smaller than most cats. But she is one of their most fearless cats. Despite her fearlessness, Nugget loves to sit on Peter's chest. Sometimes she becomes jealous of her human. So she will chase away other cats if she feels they are trying to steal her human's attention. She generally gets along with all the other cats. But she does play rough with her sister Smudge sometimes.


See the description of Nugget for details. Smudge is a bit mellower than her sister Nugget. But she's very friendly and likes to hang out with humans as well. She is a beautiful black cat that does not speak much. Smudge enjoys the cat walks and hanging out near the skylights.

Jupiter Jones

Jupiter Jones is one of 3 black sisters (plus their gray sibling Blackbird). She has medium-long hair. Jupiter Jones decided early on that she preferred to hang out in Peter's room. She didn't want to share the kitten room with her sisters. During the day all cats are free in the house. And at night most of the younger cats sleep in the kitten room. But not Jupiter. She sleeps in Peter's bed with Smokey, Cookie, and Rumple. She is generally a loner but does not mind hanging out with these cats. She developed a strange bad habit of peeing on Peter's bed right after eating. For this reason, they feed her in a large enclosure in the living room and then let her free a few hours after she eats. Another adaptation that they make for their cats. Finding solutions like this often solves the cat's behavior issues.


She is the only gray sister of the 4 siblings from ResQcats. They adopted her in late March 2015. Her hair grows so long that they give her a dragon cut twice a year to help her keep things clean. She likes to be right next to them all the time. And she tries to get their attention, especially when they are trying to work on the computer or read a book. She will keep head-butting and sit on the keyboard, demanding you to pet her. Sometimes Peter has to put her in the kitten room so he can get some work done. She gets along with all the other cats and she has a very soft, pleasant voice.


Climber came with the “Group of Seven” in late March 2015. One of her unique habits is that she loves to sit right on your chest when you are lying in bed. That habit continues today, even though she is 13 pounds. She actually holds the trophy for being their heaviest cat. She still thinks she is a small kitten and continues to climb onto your chest. Sometimes she is showing a little aggression toward Smokey. But generally, they still get along. In fact, Climber, Smokey, and BokuMo all hang out together and enjoy licking the cans at dinner time. She also loves hanging out on the cat walks, even though she struggles to fit the tiny holes because of her weight.


Mikan came with her sister Climber and The Professor in the “Group of Seven” in late March 2015. While they were deciding how many kittens they could handle all at once, they almost skipped her. She was the calmest cat in the whole group and they almost decided not to adopt her. But they have a rule about splitting up siblings and now they are so happy that she is a part of HouseOfNekko. Most of the time she gets along with everyone. She sometimes becomes aggressive toward Smokey, but that's it. She is a very calm cat that often hangs out up high in the cat walks with Climber.

The Professor

The Professor got her name because she was a strange looking kitten with very hairy ears. They adopted her as a part of the “Group Of Seven” in March 2015. She has always been a strange cat. Early on she figured out how to climb on top of the Roomba and turn it on. As a kitten, she would ride it all night until the battery would die. Because of her long hair, she gets a lion cut twice a year. She bonded with BokuMo and their battles are often quite brutal. She sometimes eats dinner in the kitten room and sometimes in Peter's room. She roams the entire house and seems to have many hangout places.


Peter adopted Butter with her sister Peanut in 2012. While they lost Peanut to FIP, Butter grew into a beautiful Siamese cat. She bonded with Crumple. Butter likes to hang out on Peter's bed and sleeps there or with Crumple in the kitten room. She doesn't fear the other cats. Still, she only cuddles with Crumple.


They adopted Peanut in 2012. She came along with her sister Butter from the Siamese Rescue near San Francisco. She was their first experience with FIP and they had to euthanize her 10 days after bringing her home. She was a happy kitten that wanted to play with her sister, Butter. And watching FIP taking her away was one of the hardest things that Peter ever had to deal with.


Peter adopted Nutter from the same Siamese Rescue near San Francisco. That's where Peanut and Butter came from. After losing Peanut, they adopted Nutter to try to give Butter a playmate her age. Nutter grew up to be a “nutty” cat that fears most other cats in the house. She also began peeing outside the litter boxes. After they confined her to a large pen in the upstairs bedroom for several weeks, the pen became her safe place. To this day, that pen is her place to sleep. They leave it open and she often comes downstairs during the day, but always returns to the pen at night. She is currently on Lorazepam (Zanick for cats), which has helped her to relax around the other cats. She likes to sleep in Peter's office next to him while he works. She is a loving cat that loves it when you hold her. Still, she is always nervous around other cats. She has never bonded with any other cat and Peter has never seen her sleep with or cuddle with others.


Crumple and her sister Rumple appeared in 2010. While they both had been born and raised in a shelter, they each have different personalities. In Crumple's case, she is aggressive toward most of the older cats in the house. So they have to keep her in the kitten room most of the time. After they adopted the “Group of Seven”, she bonded with them and now has many friends who hang out with her at night. They sometimes let her free in the house but this can only happen for a few hours. If she stays longer, she will attack an older cat. She is a loving cat when it comes to humans and they still hope she will grow out of the aggressiveness. She is also on Lorazepam to calm her moods.


Rumple came to the house along with her sister in 2010. She is very shy and will often disappear if there are any unfamiliar humans in the house. She spends her nights in Peter's room and gets along with Smokey, Cookie, and Butter. She likes to come close to him at night but if she thinks that he will try to catch her, she is gone. They don't know why she is so fearful of humans. It might be genetic since her sister Crumple has some mental issues. Regardless, she is a loving cat and she likes to have her head scratched by Peter.

Cookie Monster

Peter adopted Cookie from a pet store that was having a kitten adoption day. Actually, he wasn't planning on adopting any cats that day. But he saw Cookie in a cage. And they said that humans have abused her and she was unadoptable. As soon as he heard the word "unadoptable", he immediately took her home. It took several months for her to stop scratching him when he tried to pet her. To this day, Peter is the only human she trusts and whom she's sleeping with. She hangs out in the main house during the day. And she will disappear if there are any unknown humans in the house. Cookie gets along with Smokey and Rumple but Peter has never seen her sleep with any other cat. She also had a lot of challenging medical problems. At age 4 she endured two difficult major surgeries. The doctors had to remove all her mammary glands due to aggressive tumors. Even though they gave her a 5% survival chance, she made a full recovery. At the age of 5, she had to have all her teeth removed because they had rotten (the cause is unknown). At 7 years-old she had another surgery to remove the leftover teeth roots that were causing her pain. Despite having no teeth, she enjoys both wet and dry food and continues to live a healthy happy life. She is one of Peter's favorite cats because of all the hardship she overcame.


Peter adopted Coffeebean from the Siamese Rescue in San Diego. She came along with her sister Donut. Both have become upstairs cats that do not enjoy being around the younger cats.


Donut is one of Peter's shyest cats. She spends most of her time upstairs or in the garage cages that she can reach through tunnels. She came with Coffeebean in 2006.


Poppyseed came to Peter in 2003. His longtime vet called to let him know he had a young white kitten that needed a home. She has always had chronic health issues like gunky eyes and peeing outside the litter box. Over the years she would find a place in the house where she seemed happy for a while and then start peeing again. Peter has never given any cat up, so he kept trying to find a place where she could be happy. For a while, that place was his bedroom. Do you see a pattern here? Peter's bedroom was a refuge for most cats at some point. Anyway, going back to Poppyseed. A couple of years ago she claimed the living room couch as her own. She currently battles arthritis and they administer injections for that twice a week. Also, she has hyperthyroidism, for which Peter gives her pills twice a day. Furthermore, there's a possible lymphoma, but it's not confirmed yet. Despite all these issues, she continues to be a happy cat. Unlike any other cats, she loves it when you hold her and pet her. It is sad that she has lost all the cats that she grew up with. Mojo, Coconut, Nekko, Wasabi, Nui, Seven of Nine, Kuro, Gizmo, Munch, Bobby, and Waffle are all gone now. They recently took Poppyseed to the emergency care. She vomited blood and was weak. The outcome is still unknown, but she’s not looking good... Their lives are so much shorter than ours. And no one is ever ready to let his cat go. But it is never in our control.

By now you should be familiar with Peter and his happy cats living together in a heavenly house. We joined him in his battle against FIP for a while now. And we must say that there has been a lot of progress made when it comes to research and cures. There are 7 (almost) cured cats so far with the trial treatments discovered with Zen By Cat’s help. We still have a long way to go before they find an official cure. But we fell like we’re contributing to saving cats’ lives all over the world. And that is such an amazing feeling!


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Here’s an insight on FIP and how you can bring your contribution to saving cats all over the world!

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  • Wonderful achievement, your story, the value of experience benefits every small tribe of cats at home with their humans.
    My cats and I send loving thanks
    M A Pinto

    Mary Ann Pinto on

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