A deadly strain of coronavirus kills cats in Cyprus

Animal News : A deadly strain of coronavirus kills cats in Cyprus
Cats seen sleeping in Tala Cat Park, home to roughly 850 cats, Cyprus, credit: Sally Hayden / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Reuters

Cyprus, known for its huge population of (stray) cats and often referred to as the “island of cats”, is currently facing a deadly outbreak of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), a strain of cat coronavirus.

FIP is “highly contagious” amongst cats and has rapidly spread across the island, veterinarian Kostis Larkou told news agency AFP. Cats with FIP can get a fever, abdominal swelling, and become very weak. People feeding strays said their ‘regular’ cats are disappearing.

Cyprus is home to a cat population that exceeds its human population of over one million. It is believed that FIP has led to the deaths of up to a third of the island’s cats since January, according to Dinos Ayiomamitis, head of animal welfare organization PAWS Cyprus.

Treatments for FIP are being considered, including molnupiravir, an anti-Covid pill. However, authorization, availability, and cost issues make it difficult to treat the cats effectively.

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