AAFP, EveryCat release guidelines on diagnosis of feline infectious peritonitis

The American Association of Feline Practitioners and EveryCat Health Foundation announced on Sept. 1 that they have released the 2022 AAFP/EveryCat Feline Infectious Peritonitis Diagnosis Guidelines.

These guidelines, published in the September issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, provide veterinarians with the information necessary to diagnose FIP in cats.

“First recognized over 50 years ago, feline infectious peritonitis has been one of the most important infectious diseases and causes of death in cats, especially affecting young cats less than two years old,” said Dr. Vicki Thayer, co-chair of the guidelines task force, in an announcement about the new resource. “Further, FIP can be challenging to diagnose in some cases and is often considered an enigma by the veterinary profession. Today, diagnosis relies upon evidence from signalment, history, physical examination findings, and diagnostic testing. The 2022 AAFP/EveryCat Feline Infectious Peritonitis Diagnosis Guidelines serve as a critical resource for veterinary practitioners diagnosing FIP in their cat patients.”

Veterinarian holding a cat

According to the guidelines: “FIP was once considered a terminal diagnosis. Research has demonstrated efficacy of new antivirals in FIP treatment, but these products are not legally available in many countries at this time,” which includes the United States. The guidelines encourage veterinarians to review the literature and stay informed on clinical trials and new drug approvals.

Given the fact that FIP is fatal when untreated and nearly every small animal veterinary practitioner will see FIP cases, the ability to obtain a correct diagnosis is critical. FIP can be challenging to diagnose because of the lack of clinical signs or laboratory changes. The guidelines provide veterinarians with information to assist their ability to recognize cats presenting with FIP.

“These Guidelines were written with the intent of providing the most current knowledge available in one comprehensive format combined with extensive supplemental resources all in one location,” said Dr. Susan Gogolski, co-chair of the task force, in the announcement. “The Guidelines will be an invaluable resource to veterinary teams around the world as a clinician builds the index of suspicion of FIP brick by brick.”

The 2022 AAFP/EveryCat Feline Infectious Peritonitis Diagnosis Guidelines were developed by a task force of experts in feline clinical medicine. Tips, clinical images and tables, and algorithms are included throughout the document. In addition, the guidelines feature 16 supplemental online resources, such as videos, figures, instructions, and a client questionnaire.

The FIP diagnosis guidelines and supplemental resources are available here. Resources for cat caregivers can be found here.

A version of this article appears in the November 2022 print issue of JAVMA.