What is Hepatic Lipidosis?
This is the most common cause of liver disease in cats. It is especially common in overweight cats. Your cat is at risk of developing this condition if he/she becomes anorexic (does not eat) for more than a few days. Cats stop eating for a multitude of reasons: they might not like the food on offer, they might be in pain or be ill or there might be stress in the household that prevent them from eating.
If your cat goes without food for more than 3 days there may be an excessive build up of fat within the cells of the liver. This is referred to as lipidosis. This is the body’s normal response to a spell of anorexia but the effects on the liver can be devastating. The fat that builds up in the liver cells prevents the bile produced in the liver cells from leaving the cells. This build up of bile is toxic and causes marked damage to the liver cells, resulting in liver disease and failure.
Symptoms that your cat might show include:
- Weight loss
- Pale gums
- Jaundice (yellow gums, eyes and inside of ears)
Diagnosing Hepatic Lipidosis
A diagnosis will be based on a history of not eating as well as the clinical symptoms of weight loss, jaundice and lethargy. Blood tests will confirm the diagnosis although additional tests such as an ultrasound or biopsy of the liver may be needed.
Help for Hepatic Lipidosis
Treatment is purely supportive with the aim of providing nutrition until your cat starts eating on its own again. If the cause for the anorexia can be determined this must be treated e.g. a course of antibiotics for an infection. It may be necessary to force feed a high calorie diet and your vet might need to put a feeding tube into your cat’s stomach. It may also be necessary to put your cat onto intravenous fluids.
Is there a drug free treatment for Hepatic Lipidosis?
As a conscientious pet owner you obviously wish to do all you can to restore your pet to health and vitality. Seeing your cat so ill will be very distressing and certainly all options for treatment should be investigated.
Over the last few years, natural and alternative therapy has become more popular as more pet owners become aware of the healing properties of herbal and homeopathic remedies. Unlike conventional drugs, natural and herbal remedies are side effect free.
Apart from encouraging your cat to eat, your vet will probably ask you to bring in some of his/her favorite food. A combination of herbal and homeopathic remedies such as Silybum marianus, Arctium lappa, Chelidonium majus, Kali mur, Nat phos and Nat sulph can be used to support liver function in conjunction with the supportive treatment provided by your vet.