Hepatic lipidosis in cats (Fatty liver syndrome)

Feline hepatic lipidosis is a serious disease. So much so that it can be deadly. It is due to an accumulation of fats in the liver. It occurs for different reasons and is primary or secondary.

An early diagnosis and early treatment improve the prognosis. The cat is admitted to provide intensive care that includes medication, hydration and, in the most severe cases, tube feeding.


What is liver lipidosis?

Feline hepatic lipidosis is also called fatty liver syndrome , which provides us with information about the characteristics of this disease. And it is that what occurs in this disorder is, exactly, the accumulation of fat in the liver. Lipidosis can be classified as primary or secondary.

Primary liver lipidosis

This type of lipidosis is also called idiopathic. The accumulation of fat in the liver is due to an alteration in metabolism. But it is not known with certainty what produces it, hence the adjective idiopathic.

It has been found that cats that suffer from obesity are more likely to suffer it as soon as they stop eating for a considerable time . For example, if they are stressed, it is common for them to refuse to eat anything.

Secondary hepatic lipidosis

This is the case of cats that suffer from a previous disease that predisposes them to accumulate fat in the liver. We speak of secondary lipidosis because it is the consequence of a primary disease.

Some of these pathologies are diabetes, hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease or infectious diseases. This type of lipidosis is the one that occurs most frequently.


What cats does hepatic lipidosis affect?

Hepatic lipidosis is a problem that affects, above all, cats with problems of overweight or obesity. Those individuals who already suffer from some other disorder also have a higher risk of lipidosis . For example, diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.

Symptoms of liver lipidosis

The symptoms caused by liver lipidosis are a consequence of damage to the liver. The involvement of this organ promotes the accumulation of toxins and the result is that the nervous system can also be damaged.

The following clinical signs stand out:

  • Anorexia, weight loss, loss of muscle mass.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea Apathy.
  • Dehydration
  • Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the mucous membranes. It is due to damage to the liver.
  • Neurological alterations, which is a sign of intoxication due to the accumulation of toxic substances that the diseased liver cannot eliminate from the body.
  • Characteristic clinical picture of the triggering disease in the case of secondary lipidosis.

Treatment of liver lipidosis

In the first place, it is important to establish whether we are dealing with a primary or secondary lipidosis. In the latter case, it is necessary to diagnose what pathology it is and to schedule a treatment for it. It is usual for the vet to do a blood test to get information about the general condition of the cat .

In addition to the modifications that may occur if there is another disease, such as lipidosis affects the functioning of the liver, it is normal to find that the parameters that are related to this organ are altered. On palpation it can also be noted that it is enlarged. These cats need intensive care, so they are admitted.

The treatment of lipidosis, in addition to the drugs that the veterinarian deems necessary, has two fundamental pillars. They are the restoration of nutrition and the maintenance of hydration. It is possible to cure a cat with liver lipidosis. But it is essential to diagnose and treat it as soon as possible.

Feeding the cat with hepatic lipidosis

As part of the care for a cat with hepatic lipidosis, it is essential to get it to eat again. Anorexia worsens the picture and the prognosis . We assume that a cat with hepatic lipidosis will not want to eat. Getting him to do it as soon as possible is essential.

Always following the veterinarian’s instructions, there is the option of trying to get him to eat by offering him wet food specifically formulated for convalescent cats. It is a veterinary product with high palatability and digestibility. In addition, its texture is very soft, so that it can even be diluted and offered with a syringe.

It is recommended to give at room temperature in very small portions many times a day. Some foods like cooked chicken or ham, tuna or sardines are other options to pique your interest . If we cannot in any way make him eat, we must never force him, as it could be counterproductive. The vet can feed him through a tube.

Hydration of the cat with hepatic lipidosis

Dehydration is common in cats with this disease. If it is not solved, the cat will die. That is why he is admitted to administer, in addition to the corresponding medication, intravenous fluids.

The vet will try to rehydrate him as soon as possible so that he can be sent home. It is important that it be as soon as possible, since cats in clinics tend to stress, which is not positive for their recovery.

Prevention of liver lipidosis

Not all diseases that lead to lipidosis can be prevented. But we can control the well-being of our cat, which includes veterinary check-ups at least once a year. In this way, it is possible to detect multiple diseases early.

Moreover, it is desirable to keep it at its weight . Obesity is a risk factor for liver lipidosis. The food, whatever our choice, must be of quality. It is necessary to avoid an excess of fats and carbohydrates.


Encouraging him to exercise and offering him an enriched environment in which he feels stimulated are other measures we must follow. It is also very important to avoid stress, which can lead to loss of appetite and lipidosis.





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