FOCV & FECV in Cats

Multiple-cat households are more susceptible to feline coronavirus.
i Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you're a cat owner, you may have heard acronyms like FCoV and FECV. But what are they and why should you care? The short answer: they're viruses, and you should care because your cat's life could be affected. Remember, always consult a qualified veterinarian about your pet's health.


FCOV stands for feline coronavirus, a family of viruses that affect the respiratory system and intestines. If you're a crazy cat person—er, an owner of multiple cats —your fantastic felines have a greater risk of infection. FECV is the acronym for feline enteric coronavirus. This type of coronavirus typically does no more harm than causing an infected cat to have some tummy troubles, such as diarrhea. Cats shed the virus in their poo. Transmission occurs when other cats come into contact with the contaminated stool or contaminated objects.


The symptoms of FECV vary. It can be completely asymptomatic, though it's likely the infected cat will experience some vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and fever. It tends to hit wee ones harder. Kittens can struggle with the symptoms for as long as five days. Watch carefully for signs of weakness. A kitten who doesn't eat for days risks losing too much weight and becoming malnourished.


The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health lists no treatment for feline coronavirus, though it does suggest treating its effects, should the sick kitty need it. In other words, a kitten with no appetite should be given fluids to regain any weight she's lost. Most cats develop their own natural antibodies to feline coronaviruses and will carry the virus for the rest of their lives, as humans carry the chicken pox virus.


The biggest risk for cats infected with feline coronavirus? FIP, otherwise known as feline infectious peritonitis. FIP develops from mutated strands of FELV. Unfortunately, FIP is almost always fatal. The virus may seem like bad cold, or just another round of diarrhea. But then the cat gets fatigued or lethargic. He might lose weight and his appetite. Fluid builds up in the kitty's chest or abdomen. Some cats develop tremors or paralysis. There is no cure and no specific treatment, though treatment for the symptoms may prolong life.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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