Hepatic lipidosis in cats can cause anorexia, a very sudden loss of muscle mass, drooling, and in very severe cases, seizures.
Even with very aggressive therapy once it has properly been diagnosis, there is still a large number of cats that will not survive this horrible attack.
What makes this syndrome so confusing and troubling to owners as well as the medical community is that the exact same condition is harmless in most all other animals including dogs.
Hepatic lipidosis in cats is known by another name; fatty liver disease.
It is fast becoming one of the most common conditions in cats and is a situation where large amounts of lipid, or fat, accumulate in the cells of your cats liver.
In humans as well as most every other animal, this accumulation is relatively harmless.
However, cats have a unique system of both protein and fat metabolism that causes this accumulation of fat to have severe effects on their health.
It is technically described as a syndrome where the excessive amounts of fat in the liver cells, abnormal bile flow, and impaired liver functions that result, create a perfect storm of potential destruction.
Because of this perfect storm, your cat’s liver may very quickly lose its ability to detoxify blood.
Once this occurs, toxins will start to accumulate, and this leads to several symptoms and none of them will be good.
This potential killer affects all breeds, both sexes, and all age groups but middle aged and older cats seem to be a lot more prone than younger cats.
Hepatic lipidosis in cats, once this perfect storm comes together, will show you some very distinct symptoms.
As the toxins from this syndrome start to accumulate, it will first attack your cats mental capabilities.
This will cause your cat to suddenly become depressed to the point where it appears they care about nothing.
This will than quickly lead to a complete loss of appetite that turns into anorexia.
The next set of symptoms will be a very rapid erosion of your cats muscle mass caused by the lack of nutrition and is usually compounded with vomiting.
Drooling will also appear and is a real warning sign in cats. Although drooling is quite common in dogs, it is very rare in cats.
However, now the real danger starts, as your cat will most likely develop jaundice which is extremely dangerous and will set the stage for your cat going into a seizure.
If it reaches this stage, your cat has very little chance of surviving.
Hepatic lipidosis in cats, like most syndromes, is idiopathic which means in most cases the exact cause will never be known.
This is some consensus in the medical community that it may be caused by a nutritional deficiency, or by a metabolic or toxic injury to your cat’s liver.
However, this is a much larger consensus that believes that there are two common conditions that actually trigger this perfect storm to develop; stress and obesity.
Cats by their nature are easily stressed, especially by a change of diet, a change in their environment for any reason, or by some type of an infection.
But there seems to one common denominator in almost every case; the affected cat is overweight.
This syndrome is very rare in young cats as they generally have no weight problems until they reach middle age.
Hepatic lipidosis in cats can only be treated successfully if it is caught and diagnosed in the early stages and then supported by extensive nutritional support.
Because of this, the first form of treatment will involve your cat’s diet.
They will need an entirely different diet for at least 4 to 6 weeks, if not longer in some cases.
Your cat will need to be fed a very high protein and calorie dense diet. But there is something very important to factor in; stress.
Your cat is already both very stressed and ill, and force feeding them will only compound the situation. Because of this, feeding tubes are usually required.
The type of feeding tube will have to be discussed in detail with your veterinarian, as it will depend on several factors.
These include the size of your cat, the extent of the illness, and rather your cat can successfully be anesthetized which itself can be very dangerous.
Appetite stimulants will also be used but again this is something that needs to be discussed in detail and will all depend if your cat has any interest in food at this point.
Fluids and Electrolytes will also have to be used simply because in most cases of hepatic lipidosis in cats dehydration has developed.
Potassium may also have to be supplemented as vomiting lowers potassium levels in your cat’s blood.
Vitamin K will also have to be supplemented as any type of a liver problem depletes the storage of this critical vitamin.
Vitamin K is critical to prevent coagulation or clotting, and because of the liver damage, your cats supply is in jeopardy.
Multivitamin supplements are also recommended as anorexia not only causes a thiamine deficiency, but other deficiencies as well.
Gastric medications are also used such as Tagamet or Zantac to prevent ulcerations in your cats stomach or intestines.
And finally, antibiotics will also be used as the stress your cat is undergoing places a tremendous amount of pressure on their immune system.
Even with intensive nutritional care, hepatic lipidosis in cats still has a less than promising survival rate. It is estimated that over one third of all cats with this syndrome will not survive.
The best chance your cat has is to catch it very early and then treat it as quickly as possible.
However, if you maintain your cat’s weight and refuse to let them become obese, the chances are very high that they will never get this killer to start with.