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Fatty Liver syndrome in cats

Fatty liver syndrome (Hepatic Lipidosis) is a common and severe liver disease in cats that occurs when cats stop eating food, forcing the liver to convert body fat into usable energy.  If the cat does not eat for too long this fat builds up in the cells of the liver causing it to swell in size and become unable to function normally.  Older, overweight cats are particularly prone to this disorder of liver metabolism.  A cat’s owner may notice that their overweight cat suddenly stops eating and appears nauseous with salivating or even vomiting.  Many of these cats appear jaundiced (yellowing of the skin).  The diagnosis is usually made through a small biopsy of the liver.  This disease can occur as a result of other underlying diseases such as cancer or infectious disease.  Stress, though a rare cause, can also be the inciting factor.  For example when a cat is left alone with a pet sitter while their owner is out of town and does not eat for too long. Fortunately, this is a treatable condition and 80-90% of cats will recovery, though the recovery process is long.  The mainstay of treatment is aggressive feeding, often through a feeding tube.  If a cat stops eating for even a few days it should be evaluated by a veterinarian because early detection and treatment greatly increases the success rate.

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Veterinary Technical Services Department



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