Hepatic lipidosis in cats is a grand name for a fatty liver. So what’s a fatty liver? It is when excess fat deposits in the liver. In people, it is often common to find it in those who drink excess alcohol, those who are overweight, those with diabetes or other metabolic syndromes.
Many cats today are overweight and an increasing number have diabetes, although I’m not sure too many drink alcohol. So fatty liver will be more in obese cats or cats with diabetes, but particularly when they lose weight too quickly. This can come about for a variety of reasons, such as a change of diet, a sudden malaise, from ingesting poison or any factors which contribute to a sudden loss of appetite leading to weight loss.
Cats were never designed to be overweight. They can’t utilise fat well. They should be sylph-like, slim, which makes them more efficient hunters.
When anyone loses weight quickly, fat cells are sent to the liver to be converted into the energy that food normally supplies. But cats are not capable of metabolising fat well. As the fat builds up, so the liver deteriorates. Death can result, if left unchecked. It is considered that two weeks of a very depressed appetite is all that cats can cope with before the liver starts to be affected.
Early symptoms of this hepatic lipidosis in cats include:
- weight loss
- drooling excessively
- lack of appetite
- lack of thirst leading to dehydration
as the condition worsens then the symptoms can include
- possible pain in right side of the abdomen
- palpation shows enlargement
This condition can lead to liver scarring, cirrhosis, damage to the liver and ultimately liver failure.
Blood tests are inconclusive, but can show liver abnormalities. More invasive procedures are more accurate such as an ultrasound or a liver biopsy.
Veterinary treatment is to force feed the cat during this time to ensure there is no further loss of weight. While this may be used if all other options fail, it is not one I am in favour of using. Although recovery is normal, it can take up to 18 weeks, although four weeks is more normal.
As a natural therapist, I feel the most important factor to consider here is why your cat is fasting, why are they suddenly not eating.
- Are the teeth causing pain, so much pain as to inhibit eating?
- Have they been poisoned – household chemicals can be lethal, they may have ingested a poisoned mouse, have they recently been vaccinated or over-medicated, etc?
- Are they suffering from any other condition that needs the energy of digestion (which is considerable) to help them recover?
- Are they obese? Obese cats are very unhealthy and should be put on a diet, but this MUST be done slowly. Fat tissues store toxins and a sudden influx of these toxins into the body can cause serious problems.
These conditions are easily avoidable given the right food and the right homeopathic treatment. Then your cat’s appetite will return on its own.
Whilst hepatic lipidosis in cats is a serious condition to contract, don’t fall for the free-feed policy (so loved by conventional vets) of leaving dried food out. This makes cats obese and increases their toxin levels, so making it more likely to create the problem than prevent it. Cats need species-specific food and two meals a day (given the right quality and quantity) is sufficient to keep them healthy.