What Is Feline Hepatic Lipidosis? - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What Is Feline Hepatic Lipidosis? - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Feline hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver syndrome, is the most common liver disease in cats. Although obese or overweight cats are more prone to this disease, any cat can suffer from this liver disease.

In this AnimalWised article we're going to talk about feline hepatic lipidosis, its symptoms, treatment, recovery and prevention. Keep reading to learn more about this liver disease.

What is feline hepatic lipidosis?

Feline hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver syndrome, consists precisely in the accumulation of fat in the liver. This can be primary or secondary, which we can characterize as follows:

  • Primary or idiopathic hepatic lipidosis: in these cases the accumulation is produced by some failure in the metabolism due to an unknown cause. Obese cats that go through a prolonged period of fasting and cats suffering from stress are known to be prone to this liver disease.
  • Secondary hepatic lipidosis: this is the most common type of feline hepatic lipidosis in cats. Cats with this type of lipidosis suffer from some disease that predisposes them to the accumulation of fat, that is, lipidosis will appear as a consequence of previous pathologies such as diabetes, infectious diseases, hypothyroidism, pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease.

To learn more, we encourage you to also read our article about liver failure in cats.

Symptoms of feline hepatic lipidosis

The clearest clinical sign of feline hepatic lipidosis is when your cat stops eating. This symptom alone is serious enough for you to bring them to the veterinarian for a check-up.

In addition, cats with feline hepatic lipidosis will lose weight and lose muscle mass. We can also observe vomiting, diarrhea, apathy, dehydration and symptoms derived from liver involvement, such as jaundice, which is the yellowing that their mucous membranes may present.

Sometimes the malfunction of the liver, an organ that performs important functions in metabolism, causes toxic substances to accumulate that end up affecting the cat, causing neurological symptoms. These can end in a coma and death. In addition, if the lipidosis is secondary to another disease, the cat will present the symptoms from its cause.

To summerize, symptoms of feline hepatic lipidosis includes:

  • Mental depression
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Jaundice
  • They stop eating

It is important to establish the diagnosis by differentiating whether we are dealing with a primary or secondary lipidosis, since, in the second case, we must also treat the initial disease. In general, a blood test will be able to find elevated parameters related to liver function.

As their caregiver, it's very important for you to bring them to the veterinarian as soon as you observe any abnormalities in their behaviour or appearance. This way, your veterinarian will be able to properly diagnose and treat them.

Does feline liver lipidosis have a cure?

Yes, feline hepatic lipidosis is curable through aggressive nutritional support until the cat returns to their normal appetite. This treatment normally takes an average of 6-7 weeks and is treated at home.

In addition, hydration is also key to treating this disease. Nutritional support is, without a doubt, the most important part of the cat's treatment. However, many veterinarians will also prescribe medication to support liver function, decrease nausea, and correct electrolyte imbalances. Cats may also be hospitalized for intravenous (IV) fluids during the first several days of treatment, in order to correct dehydration.

Recovery and prevention of feline hepatic lipidosis

Although feline hepatic lipidosis can cause the death of the cat, with early treatment the chances of recovery are high. Cats that overcome the disease do not have to present sequelae or relapses.

As a prevention of lipidosis, in addition to checking our cat at least once a year to detect early any disease that may lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver and treat it properly, we must always try to keep them at an adequate weight, for this it is important that we offer them a balanced diet tailored to their needs. For more information, we encourage you to also read our article on the best diet for cats.

In addition, the cat should be kept in what is known as an enriched environment, with opportunities to exercise and have sufficient activity, since stress is another factor involved in the appearance of liver lipidosis in cats. Cats need to be physically and cognitively stimulated to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. It is also advisable to avoid diets rich in fat or carbohydrates as cats thrive on a high protein diet.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

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