Cleo's Progress

One Cat's Struggle with Feline Hepatic Lipidosis



Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lost and abandoned cats get hepatic lipidosis

Two days ago, my neighbor and I found a cat outside that appeared to be lost or abandoned. Since I know that many cats who become lost outside subsequently develop hepatic lipidosis, I became pretty worried about the cat's health. Luckily, though, the story turned out to have a happy ending.

Here's the story:

I was working out on my porch Thursday morning. As a work-from-home freelance writer, I like to do this periodically as a change of scenery.

While I was working, I heard a loud meowing, and saw my neighbor across the street poking around his front porch. Cleo — who loves to hang out on the porch with me — got really interested and was clearly tempted to leave the porch (which she's not allowed to do), so I put her inside and went across the street to see what was going on.

A marmalade cat was cowering next to my neighbor's porch, clearly terrified, and loudly voicing his distress. My neighbor was trying to get him to voluntarily go into a cat carrier, which I knew was never going to happen. We weren't sure if the cat would bit or scratch, and since we also didn't know if he was healthy, I asked Wayne if he had some garden gloves. He did, so I put them on and picked the cat up.

The cat resisted going into the cat carrier, but he didn't try to bite or scratch. Wayne said he was going to call Animal Control, but then changed his mind and said he'd call a few no-kill shelters first. He put the carrier with cat inside in the shade on the driveway. Concerned about the cat, and knowing that it was supposed to be in the upper 90s or even 100 degrees, I offered to take the cat temporarily — although I didn't want him in contact with my own cats, in case he had some type of kitty disease, I knew I could safely quarantine him in the bathroom.

Wayne made some phone calls, and discovered the only no-kill shelter that had any availability wouldn't be able to take the cat for another week. Meanwhile, I released the cat in the bathroom, and he promptly hid under our clawfoot tub. I discovered that when I petted him, he purred and arched into my hand, but he wouldn't come out for any reason — not even for the food and water I offered him.

I was getting worried that he wasn't eating because he'd already developed feline hepatic lipidosis. Many lost or abandoned cats get this form of liver failure, also known as fatty liver, because they go without food when they are lost — particularly if they were formerly indoor cats and lack any form of "street smarts." I was picturing having to force feed this strange cat in order to nurse it back to health — because I know a busy no-kill shelter wouldn't have the time to do it properly.

Unfortunately, I had obligations that afternoon, so I had to leave for a while. After I got home and my husband came home from work, he noticed a sign on one of the light posts on our street. I checked it out and discovered it was a handwritten sign: "Missing Cat!" The description fit, and the street number was just a few houses down from my neighbor, so with my husband's help I got the cat back in the carrier and set off for his owner's house.

I can't even tell you how happy I was to find out that the cat had a loving home to return to. It saddens me how many cats are lost or abandoned, and I was really afraid that this poor terrified creature was another of those. Luckily, he had only been lost since earlier that morning. He is an indoor cat, which would explain why he behaved like a sick or injured cat — he was just scared! I was so glad, as I had really worried that the cat was sick with a case of fatty liver!

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