Research indicates that if one kitten in a litter gets FIP, that the others are several times more likely, but this is not absolute. If the overall incidence is 5% across the spectrum of young cats produced in a cattery, it could be 10-50% or higher among the remaining littermates. Researchers have seen one kitten in a litter of 6 killed by FIP and also 5 out of 6 develop the disease. Time is the only thing that will determine the fate of healthy siblings.

Resistance is the ability of the immune system to cope with a disease. It is known that 50% of the incidence is heritable, and that resistance (or susceptibility) factors exist in both toms and queens. However, culling problem toms is the simplest genetic procedure to reduce incidence. Toms produce far more litters and kittens than queens, and therefore have a much bigger effect on the disease. Good judgment and husbandry will influence the other 50% of the equation.

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Genetic research has great potential, but it takes time and money. Because FIP is a purely animal disease, there will be limited funding from sources such as the NIH. It's important to start banking DNA and assembling pedigrees showing relationships between affected and healthy cats.

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This is extremely difficult, because the virus is ubiquitous in the environment and easily spread by cats and on people. Isolation of queens and early weaning has been touted in the UK and is used in the US. However, UK catteries are small and such a program can only succeed in smaller catteries and with exceptional isolation facilities and quarantine procedures. Moreover, even if you could produce a virus free cattery environment, the moment a kitten or cat goes to new environments such as a pet home it will most likely be exposed to FECVs. Therefore, we do not recommend this procedure unless simpler husbandry practices totally fail to reduce the problem.