Feline Fatty Liver Disease
(Hepatic Lipidosis)

"Feline fatty liver disease (Hepatic Lipidosis) is believed to be triggered when your cat doesn't eat for a day or more. It is believed that not eating triggers the build up of fat (lipids) in the liver cause it to become enlarged. Treatment involves making sure your cat is fed and is properly hydrated. Long term care involves a change in diet."

It can be very dangerous when a cat refuses to eat for as long as 1 day. The lack of eating is believed to trigger a problem where the liver begins to accumulate lipids (fat) resulting in a condition called feline hepatic lipidosis (FHL). The liver swells causing symptoms such as drooling.

In over 85% of cases other possible causes or triggers of the disease include cholangiohepatitis, pancreatitis, respiratory conditions, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidsim, FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), bowel obstruction, anemia and pyometra (puss in the uterus).

A common symptom is drooling. Another symptom of liver disease is foul mouth odor.

Diagnosis of Feline Fatty Liver disease is done by taking a small sample of the liver through a needle called a fine needle aspirate test.

Treatment of Feline Fatty Liver Disease

Treatment of this condition usually lasts for 3 to 8 weeks and is successful in 80% of cats.

The first step in treatment is to get food into your cat by feeding your cat directly into the stomach via a tube. This alone should help your cat get back to good health. At first your cat's condition may appear like it turned for the worse, but will quickly get better after 1 week. If your cat survives the first week there is an excellent chance of a full recovery.

Your veterinarian will recommend a diet that contains between 35% to 45% protein. High carbohydrate 25% to 35% of calories, should not be given to cats with this condition.

After 4 to 10 days your veterinarian will gradually start to feed your cat. Common symptoms during treatment include diarrhea and vomiting.

Other supplements that might be recommended by your veterinarian include vitamin k, potassium, L-carnitine, B-vitamins vitamin C, vitamin E and taurine.

It is possible that your cat associates food with a feeling of nausea causing them to refuse to eat. In this case you may need to feed your cat for a minimum of 10 days with a tube before regular food in re-introduced.

For long term care of the liver ask your veterinarian about adding Milk Thistle to your cat's diet. This homeopathic remedy has a long history of supporting liver health that is back by clinical study. One product worth researching that is made specifically for cats is PetAlive Liver-Aid. Be sure to discuss this and any other dietary changes with your veterinarian so that he or she can track your cat's progress.


Feline Hepatic Lipidosis
Prevention and Treatment
Vincent C. Biourge, DVM PhD Dip ACVN & ECVCN
Research Center, Royal Canin
Aimargues, France

Treatment for Severe Feline Hepatic Lipidosis
Sharon A. Center, DVM, Dipl
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York, USA

Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine


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