Cleo's Progress

One Cat's Struggle with Feline Hepatic Lipidosis

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cats with fatty liver disease: Olivia's story

This post is part of a series about actual cats with fatty liver disease, or feline hepatic lipidosis. If you would like your cat's story to be featured on my blog, please contact me.

I don't know much about Olivia, other than that she had fatty liver disease and required only about two weeks of force feeding before she started asking for food again.

Olivia's owner commented on my blog after her cat had already made it through the worst part — the force-feeding. She wanted to know how long recovery would take, as Olivia was still weak from losing so much weight.

Olivia's owner said in her comment, "Thanks for the website, it is support I need right now."

Add Olivia to the list of cats who have survived feline hepatic lipidosis!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Changing my cats' food

Remember back when I was contemplating taking Cleo off of dry food? I was concerned about the signs that dry food was not the healthiest thing for her. Besides, wet food seemed the best way to keep her eating and avoid another bout of feline hepatic lipidosis.

Unfortunately, Cleo became very picky about her wet food, and started to boycott everything but the whitefish and tuna flavor. I've read about cats being in danger of mercury poisoning from only eating fish-flavored wet food, so I decided it was time to take Cleo off of the wet food.

This time I decided to go with the absolute best of the best — Spot's Stew — and put both of my cats on it. Cleo was uncertain at first, but with the incentive of a little of their canned food as a topping, she seems to like the new dry food okay.

My biggest concern right now is Prince, my other cat. He has been on kitten food (to keep his weight up, since he doesn't eat enough to otherwise) for at least a year, and is boycotting the new food determinedly. We're going to try mixing his kitten food with the new food and gradually switching him over, but I am worried about him not eating enough.

It is important to keep a close eye on your cats' eating habits, and make sure they never go more than a few days without eating their usual amounts. Now that I know how easily fatty liver disease can happen, I can tell you how important it is to keep tabs on how much your cat eats!


Googling feline hepatic lipidosis

It is three years ago this month that Cleo first became ill with feline hepatic lipidosis, a.k.a. fatty liver disease. My husband and his dog moved in with us at the very end of September 2005, and unbeknownst to us, Cleo stopped eating. We think it was because she felt she couldn't access her food with the dog always hovering over her, checking her out.

I started keeping a website about Cleo's condition almost immediately after she was diagnosed. Later I transferred everything into a blog with its own URL, as it was easier to maintain and update, not to mention easier for visitors to find and interact with. I've received many comments and emails since I transferred everything to this blog — I only wish I had done it sooner!

One thing I have noticed is that most people find my blog at a certain point in their cat's illness — usually when they have reached the pinnacle of frustration and hopelessness. So the good news is, if your cat has feline hepatic lipidosis and you have found this blog, things are probably the worst they are going to get — it's all uphill from here.

Even once you start providing treatment — i.e., force feeding and giving fluids intraveneously — there is a short period in the beginning where your cat will seem to get worse before s/he starts improving. I saw it with Cleo, and I've heard about it from others: At first, you'll have a difficult time getting your cat to keep food down after you force-feed him or her, and you'll start feeling like your cat is never going to get through this.

I remember holding Cleo and sobbing, and all I could think was, "My kitty is dying." Another reader said pretty much the same thing: "I had to hold her while she heaved because she was getting fluids, all the while crying and telling her I was not giving up, and she couldn't either."

So if you have found this blog, chances are it's because you are feeling so hopeless about how the treatment is going that you felt compelled to seek out additional information on how other cat owners coped with feline hepatic lipidosis. If you are anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks into the force-feeding, I would say that you are probably right now at the worst part, and soon you will start noticing improvements. So don't give up hope!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cats with fatty liver disease: Evie's story

This post is the first in a series about actual cats with feline hepatic lipidosis, commonly known as fatty liver disease. Fatty liver is a completely curable condition, so all of these stories have happy endings — in fact, I haven't heard from a reader yet whose cat has died of the condition. If your cat has or had feline hepatic lipidosis and you'd like his or her story to be included, please contact me.

Months ago, I exchanged several emails with one of my readers. Her cat, Evie, was sick with feline fatty liver disease, and she was looking for hope.

Evie most likely stopped eating because she didn't like another cat in the house — he had recently returned after a long time missing, and her owner thinks that was what caused her to stop eating and develop fatty liver disease. (Remember, feline hepatic lipidosis occurs when the cat stops eating, or stops eating as much, and the liver gets bogged down from trying to process fat stores as energy.)

Evie's owner commented on my blog shortly after her cat was diagnosed with feline hepatic lipidosis. Like many vets, Evie's vet did not believe she would pull through, and so her owner researched the condition on her own. Thank goodness she did! Otherwise she would not have known that the only way to cure fatty liver disease in cats is to force feed them enough protein-rich foods that their liver starts working again.

After about three weeks of force-feeding, Evie started eating on her own. She started drinking on her own about a week or so after that. The scary thing is, none of this would have been possible if her owner hadn't been proactive about doing her research and providing the care Evie needed.

Evie's owner said to me in an email, "Without your website, I might have given up hope. I followed your links, and read the other kitty's story (and followed their links, also, lol)."

Don't give up on your cat — if Evie and Cleo can both recover from fatty liver disease, so can your cat!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Visitors looking for info on feline hepatic lipidosis

I get comments and emails all the time from people who have cats with feline hepatic lipidosis. Usually they are feeling upset and helpless, wondering whether their cat is ever going to get well again, and start Googling for more information. They're looking to have their fortunes told, in a way.

The good news is that the people who comment on my blog or email me usually find my site extremely helpful to them while they are dealing with feline hepatic lipidosis. They thank me for giving them hope and information.

I just wish my blog was ranked a little higher, so that more people would see it: Most people never look past the first page of search engine results. I think the only ones who do are the ones who are really desperate — which I suppose many people are when they have cats with feline hepatic lipidosis.

I am going to publish a few more blog posts in the next couple of weeks: Stories of recovery from feline hepatic lipidosis (complements of several readers' emails), and some observations of my own. Stay tuned!