Hepatic lipidosis is a liver problem that can affect cats of any age, breed or sex. It is also called fatty liver disease or fatty liver syndrome. HL occurs when a cat suffers a decrease in appetite or stops eating completely. The decrease in caloric intake triggers mobilization of fat stores from other parts of the body in order to maintain metabolic requirements. The fat is processed by the liver and in some instances it overwhelms the liver’s metabolic capacity to metabolize it. Fat then begins to accumulate in the liver and starts to impair liver function.
There are certain risk factors that can predispose a cat to developing HL and certain “triggers” that may alert you to the potential for a problem. Cats that are overweight are at a higher risk for developing this disease. Changes in diet, environment and development of another illness may also predispose a pet to a decrease in appetite and development of HL. It is possible not to ever find a reason for the development of HL in which case it is termed idiopathic hepatic lipidosis (IHL). In order to reach a diagnosis of IHL however, other problems need to be ruled out. Recent information suggests that some cats may have intestinal disease (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) as a predisposing factor. If that is the case long term therapy may be required.
Some of the first signs that people will notice is a loss of appetite, depression, sporadic vomiting. Some owners may even notice a yellow tinge to the tips of the ears or the whites of the eyes as a first sign. If the problem is severe or not addressed, patients can progress to stupor, salivation, bleeding problems and death. The earlier the disease is caught, the better the chance of successful treatment.
The best thing that can be done to avoid the possibility of hepatic lipidosis is to keep your cats at or near their ideal weight. This seems to be a much more common problem in cats who are overweight and suddenly experience a weight loss for any reason. It is also important to observe your cat's eating habits and to remember that even 3 or 4 days of not eating can lead to this condition. Any cat who is not eating should be examined by a veterinarian to determine the cause, if possible. Good health maintenance can limit the number of possible things that might lead to inappetance. A palatable, yet low calorie diet is significant in reducing the risk of Hepatic lipidosis.
Article Courtesy of I-love-cats.com