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Why There Are So Many Cases of FIP in Turkey?

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

CatSwoppr has received a good many of requests to help raise funds for FIP-positive cats in Turkey. Some of the people who reached out to us are @fip_savascisi_zeytin, @fipsavascisioglum, @fip.savascisi.moli, @fipwarrior.kocakafa, @seker_yasamak_istiyor, @bonibonicindestek and @fipboncuk_. Given the recent tragic events in Turkey, the low wages and the huge number of stray cats spreading FIP, it is not surprising that so many of our clients come from Turkey.


FIP Medicine, Expensive and Illegal


Commonly known as the ‘feline coronavirus,’ FIP is a disease which affects the upper respiratory tract. Until 2019 there was no known cure for this deadly disease (Bouscaren 2023). GS-441524 is the name of the medicine developed by Gilead Sciences which was shown in 2019 to be effective against FIP (Bouscaren 2023). However, after the rise of COVID-19, the company focused on developing medicine for humans (Bouscaren 2023). So, GS-441524 remains to this day, from a legal point of view, an unauthorised formula (Bouscaren 2023). The cat owners have two options in Turkey. They can buy an unlicensed version of GS-441524 or they can have their kittens treated with a smaller dose of remdesivir, the anti-COVID drug developed for humans (Bouscaren 2023).

Either way, treatment of FIP costs an arm and a leg. One woman reported that she spent over $2500 to have her cat treated for FIP (Bouscaren 2023). If we consider the low minimum wage – around $455 (Devranoglu 2022) – and the economic

Moli, one of the FIP positive cats from Turkey helped by CatSwoppr
Moli (@fip.savascisi.moli), one of the FIP-positive cats from Turkey helped by CatSwoppr

impact of the tragic earthquake which hit Turkey on February 06, 2023, there is little hope that the number of FIP-positive cats will go down without help.


Rising Numbers

In June 2022, it has been reported that in Büyükada nearly 700 cats died of this disease! For context, Büyükada is a region in Turkey which was taken by storm by the number of FIP cases reported in street cats. Solutions to prevent the spread of FIP include vaccination against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), which are both known to affect the immune system of cats (Aydin & Yildirim, 2019). Another preventive measure is the quarantine of FIP-positive cats, for which volunteers need more resources.


According to ICatCare, cats should ideally live in groups of four, or fewer, to avoid the spread of FIP. Since the cat population in Turkey was measured at approximately 4.4 million in 2021 (Dierks,

2022), it is only fair to assume that having enough shelters to accommodate the quarantine rule would not be feasible.


How Can You Help?


First of all, you can always follow CatSwoppr on Instagram and Facebook to donate to our Turkish clients. Second of all, if you are trying to help a Turkish cat to get proper FIP treatment, you can have a look at the BasmiCare programme.


Do you know a cat which needs help? Contact us now!





References


2023 Turkey-Syria Earthquake. Center for Disaster Philanthropy. (2023, February 10). Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disasters/2023-turkey-syria-earthquake/

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Aydin, H., & Yildirim, S. (2019). Investigation of the relation between feline infectious peritonitis and retroviruses in cats. GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 6(2), 071–078. https://doi.org/10.30574/gscbps.2019.6.2.0011


Bouscaren, D. (2023, January 5). Desperate pet owners turn to illegal drug markets to cure a rare cat virus. The World. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://theworld.org/stories/2023-01-05/desperate-pet-owners-turn-illegal-drug-markets-cure-rare-cat-virus


Devranoglu, N. (2022, December 22). Turkey raises monthly minimum wage by 55% for 2023. Reuters. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://www.reuters.com/markets/turkey-raises-monthly-minimum-wage-by-50-2023-2022-12-22/


Dierks, Z. (2022, July 26). Cat population in Turkey 2012-2021. Statista. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/516039/cat-population-europe-turkey/


Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). International Cat Care. (2022, October 27). Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://icatcare.org/advice/feline-infectious-peritonitis-fip/


Some 700 cats killed by feline coronavirus in Büyükada. Hürriyet Daily News. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/some-700-cats-killed-by-feline-coronavirus-in-buyukada-locals-174319


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