Virus Peritonitis of Cats: Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Prevention

The causative agent of viral peritonitis in cats is coronavirus. This virus lives in the body of most cats. Especially often it affects kittens aged 6 months and older.

Causes of viral peritonitis

Living in the body of a kitten, coronovirus may not cause any special inconvenience. Especially if you consider that this virus has the ability to independently be removed from the animal’s body along with fecal feces and urine.

The virus nests mainly in the kidneys and thyroid gland, spreading from there throughout the body. It is practically not susceptible to cold and tolerates low temperatures well, but it is quite sensitive to light and heat.

Who is most susceptible to this disease?

Viral peritonitis mainly affects young animals, i.e. kittens aged 5-6 months. The older the animal, the lower the risk of infection. In older cats, the incidence of viral peritonitis is almost non-existent.

A special risk group in this case includes cats that live in large groups. Especially those who use one tray, because the virus is transmitted from a sick and ill animal to healthy ones through the body’s secretions.

In groups of animals living in the same room, there may be a constant change of those who are ill and those who have had viral peritonitis. Some secrete this virus with feces and recover, others become infected and then again secrete the pathogen, infecting the first. Studies show that the incidence of viral peritonitis is strongly influenced by stressful factors. Animals that are exposed to constant stress or have suffered a sufficiently strong stress once are more susceptible to viral peritonitis than other animals. In addition, animals with low immunity, as well as those animals whose blood does not contain special antibodies, are also at risk.

There is also a special genetic predisposition to the incidence of viral peritonitis. Some cat breeds are more sensitive to the causative agent of this disease than others. It is not yet possible to find out what exactly this is connected with.


Viral peritonitis can occur in three forms:

  • dry;
  • wet;
  • asymptomatic.

In the dry form of peritonitis, the main symptoms may be loss of appetite, severe weight loss and fever, which does not go away even when the animal is treated with antibiotics. If the virus affects the liver, jaundice may develop.

This dry peritonitis is especially dangerous, because it is not possible to make an accurate diagnosis, and they begin to treat jaundice, as well as other symptoms of fever. While the true cause of malaise in cats is much more serious.

Also, in the dry form of viral peritonitis, eye damage is possible. And when the nervous system is affected, there may be a tendency to hydrocephalus, disorders of the vestibular apparatus (for example, the animal constantly tilts its head), loss of sensitivity, urinary incontinence, and other non-specific signs. Which, by the way, can be easily confused with signs of other diseases and start the wrong course of treatment. In the wet form of peritonitis, a large amount of fluid accumulates in the chest and abdominal cavity of the animal. It should be noted that the wet form of peritonitis is generated from the dry one only when the cat’s blood vessels are affected.

Because in this case, the virus can increase the patency of blood vessels, which leads to the accumulation of effusion in the area of the abdominal cavity and chest. Occasionally, such secretions begin to accumulate in the area of the heart SAC, scrotum, and other body cavities.

When infected by oral or airborne droplets, first of all, the cells of the oral cavity and intestines are affected. Therefore, symptoms of the development of this disease can be prolonged diarrhea, which eventually passes, and the body gets rid of the pathogen on its own.

The asymptomatic course of viral peritonitis is usually caused by a fairly strong immune system of the animal. In this case, it is precisely the release of pathogens through fecal feces and independent healing of the body.

Treatment of viral peritonitis

The modern method of treatment includes exposure directly to the animal’s immune system. This is done so that the cat’s body can independently cope with the causative agent of this infection.

The danger of this disease is that even if the necessary secretions are available and taken for analysis, it is still not always possible to determine and cure this disease in time. Therefore, a more common method is the use of complex symptomatic treatment.

The best form of treatment for viral peritonitis is its prevention. Therefore, two weeks before delivery, it is recommended to isolate a pregnant cat from other relatives, if they live in a group. Also, experts advise isolating very small kittens so that they can not use a common tray and bowls. Then the risk of viral peritonitis will be significantly reduced.