Hepatic Lipidosis in Cats or fatty liver syndrome is an acquired disease caused by the excessive depositions of triglycerides in the cells of the liver, which ultimately interferes with the liver’s ability to function. It is one of the cats’ most common hepatobiliary disorders and was historically associated with a very high mortality rate. However, the long-term future of cats with hepatic lipidosis has dramatically improved, primarily due to the use of early and forceful tube feeding, which successfully reverses the condition in many cats.
Importance of Hepatic Lipidosis in Cats
The underlying cause of lipidosis is not entirely understood. The onset of the condition is almost universally preceded by a period of loss of appetite. Most, but not all, feline that develop Feline Hepatic Lipidosis (FHL) is overweight or obese. Less commonly, lipidosis occurs secondarily to other pathological conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, renal disease, or diabetes mellitus.
Incidence and Causes of FHL
In healthy cats, a dynamic relationship exists among the fatty acids located in fat tissues, traveling in the circulation, and stored in the hepatic cells. Circulating free fatty (FAs) acids are taken up by the liver cells, where they are either utilized for energy or formed to triglycerides (TG) and secreted back into the blood. If the supply of FAs to the liver exceeds its capacity to oxidize or secrete them, lipidosis develops.
FHL is relatively common and is generally seen in middle-aged and fatty cats. Female cats are reported to be double as likely to be affected as males, but this may reflect a higher incidence of fatty syndrome in the females that were studied rather than an actual gender difference. There is also documentation that spayed females consume more food, predisposing them to overweight conditions.
In most cases, a cat will have undergone a period of stress followed by complete or partial anorexia. Although obesity in cats is not always associated with the accumulation of lipids in liver cells, the metabolic changes caused by long time fasting can lead to fast and severe fat accumulation in the liver and the clinical signs associated with liver diseases.
Symptoms of Hepatic Lipidosis in Cats
Clinical signs of FHL include partial or complete anorexia with a period of 7 days or longer, jaundice, depression, weight loss, and muscle wasting. Commonly reported stresses include a transfer to a new house or owner, the induction of new pets into the house, or a sudden change in diet. Vomiting and diarrhea are occasionally reported. Sometimes you look after your cat suddenly stopped eating following a lifestyle change or stress period.
Diagnosis of the Disease FHL
Nonregenerative anemia diagnosed by irregularly shaped erythrocytes is typically seen. It shows increased serum activity of liver-associated enzymes, serum bilirubin, and bile acid concentrations, and, in some cases, increased blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and plasma ammonia concentration. Your veterinarian performs the diagnosis, and he will perform the Laboratory findings.
The initial diagnosis of hepatic lipidosis in cats is made using medical history, clinical signs, and laboratory analysis. The diagnosis is confirmed by biopsy of liver tissues or fine-needle aspirate showing excessive lipid accumulation in the sampled hepatocytes.
Treatment of Hepatic Lipidosis in Cats
Your vet made an early diagnosis, and he gave supportive fluid and nutritional therapy that are essential for your pets. Forceful tube feeding is the treatment of choice because afflicted cats will not eat voluntarily. Force-feeding is not recommended to your vet because it can further stress the cat and does not accurately measure the pet’s caloric intake. For these reasons, nasogastric tube feeding is preferred by your experts.
You can use a gastrostomy tube to insert directly into the stomach. This procedure ensures accurate and consistent delivery of nutrients and does not interfere with your cat’s ability to swallow. Although post-surgical complications are a risk, most cats tolerate gastrotomy and esophagostomy tubes better than nasogastric tubes.
Your vet recommended a variety of diets, including blenderized high-protein cat diets, human enteral products, and veterinary enteral products. Because it is generally accepted that providing optimal dietary protein levels is essential, a high protein, high-fat product is needed. Veterinary foods formulated for recovery are often appropriate because they contain high protein levels and are energy-dense. Your cats that show clinical signs of hepatoencephalopathy initially need to be fed a reduced protein diet. Protein content in a cat’s diet can gradually increase as neurological signs resolve.
Control and Prevention of Feline Hepatic Lipidosis
Treatment is usually successful when your cat’s vomiting can be controlled and adequate long-term protein and calorie intake are ensured. You must be willing to assist your cat and nursing care of the pet for several months as it cannot feed well. As the cat’s appetite is restored, the frequency of tube feedings should be slowly decreased until the cat is consuming adequate calories voluntarily.
Supportive treatment for FHL involves minimizing any unnecessary stress that the animal may experience. In some cases, you can be administered appetite stimulants for your pet. However, some veterinarians’ advice is supplying supplemental carnitine with tube feeding. Recent studies indicate that this is probably less important than providing adequate carnitine to cats that may be at high risks, such as for overweight cats and spayed females.
Although out the treatment period, you have to need frequent monitoring of liver enzymes in serum can be detected as an indicator of hepatic improvement. In most cats with FHL have a history of the fatty syndrome, it is prudent to prevent weight regain following recovery.
Your veterinary supervision is warranted to ensure a slow rate of weight loss and prevent the recurrence of FHL. Most importantly, your cat’s feed behavior and living standards should be managed to prevent or minimize stressful conditions that may lead to subsequent episodes of anorexia.
Concluding Remarks on Lipidosis in Cats
Feline idiopathic hepatic lipidosis is relatively common among middle-aged, obese cats. FHL most often occurs after a period of partial or complete anorexia, usually brought on by stress. In my article, I will share all the hepatic lipidosis in cats which is very important for your cat. Thank you for your time.