Hepatic lipidosis is the buildup of fat in the liver. Abnormally high amounts of fat prevent the liver from properly functioning and lead to liver failure. Often, this condition is caused by an underlying disorder, such as a tumor. If this is the case, the underlying condition needs to be treated along with the hepatic lipidosis.
Hepatic lipidosis is normally found in cats, specifically middle-aged cats that have recently lost at least 25% of their body weight. Unfortunately, it can be hard to spot in cats that were obese when the condition occurred (which is common) as the loss of weight can initially be seen as a good thing. However, it should always spark concern if an animal stops eating like normal.
Other symptoms to be aware of are:
An obvious upset stomach
Jaundice (check the whites of the eyes for a yellow coloration)
After these symptoms are noted, veterinarians will diagnose hepatic lipidosis via lab tests. Treatment will consist of nutritional support, including forcing the cat to eat. Hand feeding can be a time consuming but an incredibly effective way to provide nutrients without invasive procedures. If this isn’t an option, a feeding tube may need to be administered.
Survival and recovery of this condition is likely as long as the cat receives nutritional support. However, if the treatment isn’t as aggressive as needed (if the cat isn’t force fed enough daily, for example), it is probably that the cat will not make it.
Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue.