Fatty Liver in Cats – Symptoms and Treatment

If there is something that causes many health problems in your cat, it is the lack of appetite. In some cases, whether due to stress or the consequence of some other illness, or for other reasons, the cat stops eating and this is much more dangerous for him than you might think.

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One of the problems caused by the lack of appetite of the cat is the appearance of liver diseases , that is, diseases that compromise the functioning of the liver. These pathologies can be deadly in 90% of cases. Among liver diseases we find the fatty liver in cats . YourCatCareguide explains, in this article, what the symptoms and treatment for this problem are. Keep reading!

What is fatty liver in cats?

The fatty liver , also called feline hepatic lipidosis , is the disease of this organ that affects cats, whether male or female. It consists of accumulating fat in the liver , preventing it from functioning properly. By causing a liver failure, the entire organism is compromised, which causes mortality to be very high with this disease.

It can affect cats at any age, but it is more common in pets older than 5 years, especially if they live indoors and have weight problems. Normally, it is provicadi when the animal’s food cycle is disturbed, either by being subjected to an overly strict diet (something you should never do), or because, due to other health conditions or stressful situations, the animal has lost the appetite.

What happens is that, in the absence of food, the body begins to transport the fats that it gets to the liver for it to process. However, when the lack of appetite extends to the liver, it becomes overworked, being unable to synthesize all the fats, accumulating them in the said organ. Faced with this accumulation of fat in the area, the liver collapses.

A cat with physical discomfort who fails to eat for a day is not a cause for concern, but on the second day you should visit the veterinarian immediately, since the feline organism is damaged very quickly by lack of food .

What are the causes of feline hepatic lipidosis?

Firstly, obesity is a determining factor when it comes to suffering from fatty liver in cats, especially when, for some reason, the feline begins to lose extra pounds very quickly. In addition, any element that causes the cat to stop eating presents a danger to him, whether he is refusing to eat it in response to a stressful situation, or not enjoying the food (if he has changed his usual diet or because he is sick of the same taste), among other problems. All these factors cause anorexia , which also implies liver failure.

Also some diseases, such as cardiac or renal pathologies , produce lack of appetite, as well as pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, cancer and any type of diabetes . Likewise, problems related to the mouth, such as sores, infections such as gingivitis , trauma and anything that makes eating a painful or difficult act, causes the cat not to want to eat.

Likewise, the lack of a regulated time for eating that translates into food management in an inconsistent way, causes eating disorders and creates stress in the cat , since you never know when your next meal will be (do not forget that they are animals routine), causing this disease in the liver.

What are the symptoms of fatty liver in cats?

The lack of appetite and, consequently, weight are most evident symptoms. It is possible that the cat has vomiting and diarrhea or even constipation, accompanied by dehydration and general weakness, so you will notice that you are tired.

When a liver failure occurs, bilirubin levels increase and jaundice , a yellowing of the skin, gums and ocular globules, may be noted . The cat may also experience tremors and adopt an indolent attitude towards himself, causing him to stop doing his hygiene. Examination of the vet by palpating the abdomen may reveal swollen liver in cats.

How is the diagnosis made?

If the fatty liver disease in the cat is advanced, the veterinarian may at first sight identify the yellowish signs of jaundice as well as palpate the swollen liver. To confirm that this is feline hepatic lipidosis, further tests are required:

  • Blood analysis.
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen that allows to analyze the size and the state of the liver.
  • A liver biopsy that consists of removing a sample from the liver wall with a needle. In some cats, rapid surgery may be required to take a larger sample.
  • Xray to the abdomen.

In addition, as well as the physical examination and any information you can give the veterinarian about the signs of disease and condition of the feline, tests will be needed to determine the origin of the liver disease.

What is the treatment of feline hepatic lipidosis?

At an early stage, it is likely that after being diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis (or fatty liver in cats), the cat should be hospitalized for a few days, during which time it will receive fluid therapy , necessary to combat dehydration, lack of nutrients and weakness in his body.

After that, which is just an emergency treatment, the most important thing is for the cat to return to eating, but this is usually tricky in most cases. It may not be enough to offer his favorite food, but the most common thing is to continue eating. For this reason, assisted feeding may be necessary . The first is to try with kneaded food administered through a syringe, but if that does not work the vet will place a catheter in the nose or neck of the animal to carry the food directly to the stomach. Treatment may be necessary for weeks or even months. The specialist will indicate the type, portions and daily frequency of the food.

In addition, the disease that causes hepatic failure should be treated , and foods that stimulate appetite are also recommended since the ultimate goal is not only to control the disease but also to make the pet have a normal life by eating alone .

This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

If you want to read more articles that may be updated daily, please visit our other health issues section .

Emily Harris

Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-p I am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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