Hepatic Lipidosis and Liver Problems in Cats

Filed Under: Cats, Diet & Nutrition

The most common cause of liver problems in the cat is Hepatic Lipidosis. The exact cause of this condition is not known but it is associated with a period of anorexia (not eating) in the feline patient. Cats that are overweight or obese tend to incur the problem more frequently and repeat attacks are common. Stress appears to be the inciting cause of Hepatic Lipidosis. Stressful situations in the cat may include any change to their normal routine including: boarding, moving, the death of an additional pet or an owner, or simply a change in diet. Any weight loss program in a cat should be structured to be a gradual process, in order to avoid hepatic problems.

Hepatic Lipidosis involves a fatty infiltration of the liver leading to severe intrahepatic cholestasis (backup of bilirubin) and eventual hepatic failure. Clinical signs include anorexia, icterus (yellow) mucous membranes, and liver enlargement. The cat may be inactive, vomit and/or have diarrhea. Seizures and bleeding problems are rarely seen but can occur. Liver enzymes may be elevated and a complete blood count or CBC may show an anemia.

Treatment consists of primarily supportive care. Dehydration should be corrected through the use of subcutaneous or intravenous fluids. The most important aspect of treatment is force feeding. Often the feline patient will require force feeding for weeks and even months in length. The placement of a stomach tube may be necessary until the cat is stable and can eat on its own. Supplemental medication may be required to control vomiting and should be used on an as needed basis.

Topics: liver problems

Symptoms: loss of appetite, overweight

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