In this study, the cytokine profiles of clinically healthy cats naturally infected with feline coronavirus (FCoV), of cats with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and of specific pathogen-free (SPF) cats were investigated in whole blood using a traditional reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay and a semi-quantitative method of analysis based on computerised quantification of positive bands. The low inter-assay coefficient of variation recorded demonstrated that this method is highly repeatable. Compared with SPF cats, cytokine production was upregulated in most of the samples from FCoV-positive non-symptomatic cats. The appearance of a case of FIP in the cattery was associated with an increased expression of cytokines, in particular there was an increased production of IL-1beta and IFN-gamma, suggesting that these cytokines might protect infected cats from the disease. This hypothesis was also supported by the low levels of IFN-gamma recorded in blood from cats with FIP.