Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fatty Liver Disease in Cats

Feline hepatic lipidosis, also known as "fatty liver" is a disease that affects cats. Most cats that suffer from this condition are middle-aged and overweight or obese but any cat can be affected. Other risk factors include stressful events such as surgery, a change in diet, or not eating/drinking (anorexia). The first signs owners might notice include inappetance or anorexia for a long period of time (sometimes up to several weeks), weight loss, vomiting and lethargy. Other signs that may occur include diarrhea, constipation and weakness. Any of these signs warrant examination by a veterinarian. Upon examination, physical findings include dehydration, icterus (yellow mucous membranes), an unkept appearance, muscle wasting and a large liver. Cats are predisposed to getting fatty liver because they have higher nutritional requirements for protein and other important acids in the body. Triglycerides, a form of fat found in the blood accumulates in the liver of cats with hepatic lipidosis. Your veterinarian will need to perform blood tests, an x-ray of the abdomen and possibly even an ultrasound if he/she suspects this disease is present. To make a definitive diagnosis a biopsy of the liver is needed. The main treatment for cats with fatty liver includes stabilization and nutritional support with a balanced, high protein diet. This usually requires a feeding tube. Other treatments include correction of dehydration with intravenous fluids, anti-vomiting medications, and vitamin supplementation. Without supportive care the prognosis for this condition is poor.

 Maggie Low, D.V.M- HAH
University of Florida, 2012

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