Cleo's Progress

One Cat's Struggle with Feline Hepatic Lipidosis

Friday, April 4, 2008

Causes of feline hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease

My recent fears that Cleo could be developing feline hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, again have me thinking about what could have caused her to stop eating as much and lose weight like she has — about 3 pounds in a month or so.

The problem with hepatic lipidosis/fatty liver is that it can happen for just about any reason. No matter what causes the cat to stop eating, her liver gets bogged down when it tries to process her fat stores as energy. I read somewhere once that even eating two-thirds the usual amount of food over a period of several weeks can cause feline hepatic lipidosis.

Just about anything that causes a cat to stop eating can bring about feline hepatic lipidosis. She might stop eating because she's sick with another disease. She might not want to eat because her teeth hurt. The food you are feeding her might smell or taste bad to her. Or it might even be stress. Whatever the cause, it's bad news anytime your cat stops eating for a long period of time — especially if she is overweight, since fatty liver disease more commonly happens in cats that are overweight to start with.

Cleo's first bought of fatty liver disease happened because she was too afraid of the dog to get to her food. She probably stopped eating almost entirely, and within a month and a half, she'd become extremely sick.

This time around, I'm not sure what the cause was. I initially thought it was the dogs again, but Cleo doesn't seem as afraid of them as she used to be. I also have considered the possibility that her teeth are hurting her, since I've never had them cleaned. Finally, I've wondered if her previous bout with feline hepatic lipidosis weakened her other bodily systems, and as a result she's getting sick from a failure of some other bodily function.

All I know is, Cleo stopped eating her dry food as much a couple of months ago. For a while she seemed to be eating my other cat's kitten food instead (we have him on kitten food because he is always too skinny on regular food). We started getting on her about that, since she definitely didn't need the extra fat in the kitten food — she was about 13 pounds.

Unfortunately, she stopped eating the kitten food, but didn't go back to eating her own food. I'm not so sure it was us yelling at her that made her stop eating the kitten food, either — getting into trouble has never influenced her behavior before!

I definitely need to take her to the vet sometime soon.


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