Cleo's Progress

One Cat's Struggle with Feline Hepatic Lipidosis



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Force-feeding another cat

Four years ago, Cleo had just recovered from her bout with feline hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. After force-feeding her for four weeks, it was such a relief when she started eating on her own.

Now my other cat, a 12 or 13-year-old neutered male named Prince, is not eating. He has never eaten much, always weighing around 7 or 8 pounds, so when he started getting skinnier we didn't notice at first. It wasn't until recently that we realized he had reached 5 pounds.

I started force feeding him, and took him into the vet. They ran a blood panel, but everything came up relatively normal — creatinine (which is related to kidney function) is slightly elevated, but only one-tenth over what it should be, so no cause for concern quite yet. His potassium levels were also low, but again, just barely.

I knew he didn't have fatty liver syndrome, because he wasn't at all jaundiced. Hepatic lipidosis seems to happen most often in overweight cats, so I guess because he was already fairly lean to begin with, it didn't happen to him. But it occurred to me that tooth problems could definitely be a cause of fatty liver disease, so be sure to have your vet check your cat's mouth when you are trying to determine what made him or her stop eating!

The first vet who saw my cat observed — though only after I insisted he double check — that his teeth were probably causing him some pain. However he wouldn't do anything about it, he said, until Prince started eating on his own. I tried to tell him I think that may be what's causing him to stop eating, but he wouldn't listen to me.

So I took him to a different vet. Prince is now scheduled for a dental cleaning and tooth extraction (one is loose and obviously sensitive) on Wednesday. In the meantime, I am force-feeding him using the Hills A/D and the potassium supplements I got from the vet. Prince is obviously weak and somewhat lethargic, which may have to do with the low potassium levels as well as lack of nutrition. I'd forgotten how hard it can be to get a full day's calories into a cat via force-feeding.

I'm going to try to make a video showing how to force-feed a cat, so stay tuned!

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