There is a genetic risk factor, which by best estimates accounts for about 50% of the risk.
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is difficult to treat because it's a virus, explains Niels Pedersen, DVM, PhD, professor emeritus, University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
"Why is FIP difficult treat? The major reason is it's a virus and, although a lot of veterinarians put their cats on antibiotics, antibiotics do not have a strong or specific effect against viruses. And so that's basically why our current research is targeted to identifying and characterizing specific, what we call antiviral agents, that attack the virus directly.
There is a genetic risk factor, which by our best estimate accounts for about 50% of the risk. The other 50% are environmental factors, such as age at the time of exposure to enteric coronavirus, the level of exposure to enteric coronavirus, being taken away from their mothers and not obtaining normal maternal immunity, stresses of overcrowded, stresses from malnutrition—many different factors that would reduce the ability of the cat to respond to the infection."